A week ago it was my sister’s birthday. She would have turned 57, only she died at 31. As I do every year on her birthday, I talked about her with that kind of wistful memory marked by both joy and pain.
Selected posts from around our network of affiliated bloggers
When I was in middle school and high school I wanted to go to one of the service academies. In order to help secure an appointment, I joined a military cadet program in seventh grade. In many ways it was a good experience, and so I am not naming the specific program here, as I believe it does teach many young people about leadership, self-discipline, and teamwork. But it was also through this program that I had an experience that taught me a lesson I have never forgotten.
As my sweet little church joins me in a Lenten journey through the history, meaning, and purpose of evangelism, I found myself with a peculiar thought in my head. Being a part of a church is a relationship, much like the kind of relationship you have with another soul.
I appeared at a press conference several weeks ago at the state capitol building to support a legislator’s proposed bill to ban assault weapons. The legislator knew the bill wasn’t going anywhere in the house, but she expressed a desire to “start a conversation” about the role of weapons in our culture. She came with life-sized photos of the weapons in question, to ask whether these objects belong in homes. Immediately after the press conference ended, a representative of the gun lobby swooped in to address the press.
It’s a busy street, Walnut Street. I have to cross it to get to the Shalom Community Center.
I turned 30 earlier this year, and I can see the difference age has had on my body—and not just on my bald head, because, as my loved ones and old friends would tell you, that started over a decade ago.
“You know, in Germany there are hordes of young Syrian men raping German women.” The statement hovered in the air menacingly. I suspected that I was in for an interesting encounter as I watched him stride determinedly toward me after I gave a presentation on the Syrian refugee crisis, and how a group I'm part of has sponsored two families now living in our town in Canada, at a local church recently. His jaw was set and his brow was furrowed.
It is probably in my top five favorite scripture passages in the whole Bible. We are reading it this Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent. It comes up every three years. It is from 2 Corinthians. "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!"
In a nation where, increasingly, belief in God cannot be assumed, and where Christianity is losing more and more of its sway in public discourse, what does membership in a church offer? Or, to put it another way, how might we say that church matters? I’m curious how faith leaders might answer these questions because I recently ran across a very difficult sort of answer.
For all of my life in church I have noticed that one of Jesus’ basic formulas for the parables was to begin with, “A certain man had two sons . . . ” and, almost inevitably, the story had to do with how the brothers responded differently, and, on occasion, how they responded to each other. I am the older of two brothers.