Here's to all the people who give their last coin. Brian, my husband and the co-director of Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center, got a text message late at night. I didn't get all the details. I just know that there was an addict who was overdosing at a crack house somewhere in Atlanta. The person needed a pastor.
Monday lectionary email, archived here on Friday.
I was a little girl, sitting near the front row of the church. My legs could not touch the floor, and I had to hold my hands laced in my lap so that I could remain still. I stared at the coffin before me.
After enduring Job's calamities, his howling laments, the speeches of his "friends," a hymn to wisdom as an entr'acte, Job's plea of innocence, an awkward interruption by Elihu, and then four chapters of the LORD speaking from the whirlwind, we finally arrive at the 42nd and last chapter of Job. We discover that no one much agrees what it means.
Alfred Lord Tennyson called Job "the greatest poem of ancient and modern times." Excerpts are regularly included in anthologies of world literature and religious poetry. It is an undeniable literary classic. Why is it rarely preached in Christian churches?
The decline of mainline Protestantism is clear. What's less clear is what the church should do about it.
Scripture doesn't just shape the life of the community of faith. It also has a powerful effect on the lives of those who maintain distance from traditional religion, even those who explicitly deny religious faith.
According to Jesus, chances are good that there's not going to be much left of us once we've admitted to just how often stumbling blocks stand in our way. Whether others put them there or we find ways to place them ourselves, they trip us up, keep us from moving forward, get us off track.
Our proclivity for greatness is rather embarrassing, isn’t it? No wonder the disciples keep their mouths shut when Jesus inquires about the topic of their conversation on the road. We want it, and we want it big time—recognition, sway, importance—but we also get that we shouldn’t admit this out loud.
Each time I read these words from the beginning of Proverbs, I can't stop thinking about how much I would like to hear a child read them in worship.
In the Talmud, there is a story of a group of rabbis arguing over the status of a particular clay oven. Is it clean or unclean? Rabbi Eliezer stands alone against the interpretation given by his fellow sages, and he begins to call upon nature to confirm him.