New hymnals, a.k.a. “Worship Books,” are forthcoming from numerous church bodies, including two Lutheran groups (among them my own ELCA). Having studied none of these books, I write with vincible ignorance about the details. Having studied church history, however, I write with invincible knowledge of how all of them will be greeted in some sectors of each church group. Those old enough to have savaged the books being replaced will now mourn their loss, just as they will—if they live long enough—grieve over the shelving of the ones they are now trashing.
What do you get for the bride who has everything? It’s unusual these days for a couple not to have all they need before they marry. They don’t need dishes or kitchenware—unless they hope to upgrade. Their grandparents may have started out in a small apartment with a used stove and an icebox, but the 21st-century couple already owns a Viking stove and Sub-Zero refrigerator.
He was not the young man they had known before. They were sizing him up, as people in small towns will do, when he stood up in the synagogue to read from the prophet Isaiah. He read a fantastic and otherworldly passage, plainly not about Nazareth, but about some other place. And then he startled them all: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Was he talking about them? Or himself? And what did he mean by proclaiming right there, in his hometown, “the acceptable year of the Lord”?
When I run across texts like these from Jeremiah and Luke, I’m always asking, “What kind of community does it take to raise prophets like Jeremiah and even Jesus?” Being a Baptist, I have few doubts about God calling prophets, preachers, missionaries and everyday Christians. The call of God tends to be very personal, but it is not private and does not come in a vacuum.
Wages of war: No one can predict the long-term consequences of war, but not until last summer did the U.S. stop collecting a 3 percent tax on long-distance telephone calls that was begun in 1898 to help pay for the Spanish-American War—a war that lasted only several months (Vital Speeches of the Day, December).