In 1991 I attended the ELCA National Youth Gathering in Dallas with thousands of other high school kids from across the country and around the world for worship, service and Bible study. In addition to being fun and exciting, the trip expanded my view of and encounter with the church.
What is it about theological educators that allows them to get along with civility and respect in spite of wide theological diversity? I attended the recent biennial meeting of the Association of Theological Schools and was impressed with the spirit of friendship there.
Reading through the gospel for this week is sort of a horrific treat. The beheading of John the Baptist is nothing if not a great story—drama, intrigue, tension, conflict, resolution. Even as a flashback (“John, whom I beheaded, has been raised!”) to explain Herod’s response to Jesus’ ministry, it’s the kind of story one doesn’t want to read and yet cannot stop reading. But compelling as it is, I don’t necessarily want to preach about a head on a platter.
Two Sundays ago, my congregation watched as pillars of smoke and flame spoiled the view of Pike’s Peak from our sanctuary windows. After that, our city—Colorado Springs—experienced mass evacuations that had people gathering a few possessions and heading into smoke-choked streets to hotels, shelters and other people’s homes.
In the chaotic days that followed, I sat down to prepare a sermon. I didn’t know where it would be delivered.
“No religion” is now the single largest group in England and Wales, according to British Social Attitudes data. Consisting of nearly half of the population, this group is twice the size of those who identify as Anglicans and four times the size of the Catholic population. A similar pattern prevails across Europe. The decline of Catholics in Britain would be more severe were it not for Christian immigrants from Africa and Asia. The data show that the church is poor at making converts and at keeping cradle believers. The Anglican and Catholic churches lose at least ten members for every convert (Guardian, May 27).