It's Thursday afternoon or later, and Sunday is coming. For a pastor, the push is on to compose a sermon with application that's relevant to its hearers, along with compelling stories that illumine the connection to daily life. I do not disparage these pressures; I know them myself.
and Nicodemus might as well be speaking different languages. Jesus speaks of
birth from above; Nicodemus is befuddled. Jesus speaks of the spirit as wind
blowing where it will; Nicodemus wonders how this can be. They are like a
creationist and a paleontologist comparing notes on fossils--they simply can't
fathom each other. Their organizing assumptions are too different.
when we sense that Nicodemus begins to understand what Jesus is saying: when
Jesus reinterprets the story of Israel in the wilderness, drawing from the
language that has oriented Nicodemus's life and thought. It doesn't seem
likely, after all, that the series of puzzling metaphors Jesus begins with
would push Nicodemus to understanding. But something clearly does.
Pat Robertson had a ready explanation for the Haiti earthquake—he said that it was an expression of divine wrath at a centuries-old pact with the devil. Robertson's explanation may offend many of us, but attempts at offering a theodicy have a long pedigree.
What do young people look for in church? In research done in 250 congregations among people ages 15–29, respondents repeatedly said they were looking for congregations that were “welcoming, accepting, belonging, authentic, hospitable, and caring.” The researchers began to call this set of concerns the “warmth cluster.” Worship bands and ministry programs are not a priority, nor is busyness. Even “niceness” doesn’t work with young people. What they apparently seek at church is a sense of family, which calls for intergenerational relationships (Washington Post, September 6).