Make A Donation
Click Here >
Princeton Abaraoha was a carefree 13-year-old boy when he was snatched by soldiers and taken to a military training camp. Two weeks later, he was carrying a gun as a soldier in Nigeria’s civil war.
When we wade into Job 1:1, 2:1–10, the theological waters get deep very quickly. So many challenging questions float up to the surface, and any one of them can threaten to upset our balance. This part of the Scriptures might as well come with the warning “here be dragons,” which was a phrase used by 18th century mapmakers to warn risk-averse sailors away from uncharted, dangerous waters. Yet the Revised Common Lectionary asks us to swim along in this passage’s currents — and on World Communion Sunday, no less.
When you hear about a congregation’s hospitality, you might picture people greeting one another after Sunday services. Or you might picture people chatting around a table in the fellowship hall during a church potluck. Chances are, you wouldn’t picture people delivering dog toys and dish towels to a camper parked in the church’s parking lot.
My day started with a call alerting me of a death that had occurred at dawn and requesting the presence of a chaplain for comfort. I had met the family the previous week and knew they were accepting of the prognosis and nearing transition.
First Presbyterian Church in Dickson, Tennessee, was in a rut. The pastor of more than 30 years had retired a year before, and the six-member session was keeping the church together. But they were barely surviving. It was all they could do to keep up with their regular tasks, let alone start any new creative ventures.
As a pastor, I am reminded weekly during Sunday’s prayers of people that life is not easy. I listen as those in the pew ask for comfort, guidance, healing and hope. I listen, and then I pray for our laments to turn into songs of praise.
When racially insensitive photos surfaced at Cal Poly University in the spring, Front Porch, a coffeehouse and 1001 worshiping community in San Luis Obispo, California, began engaging students — many of whom were disgusted by what they saw.
When the #MeToo hashtag exploded on the social media scene in October 2017, no one could have predicted its continued impact on the treatment of women both in and out of the workplace. For a while, #MeToo seemed to be more about bringing down famous people in big corporations or enterprises, like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer. Hollywood is one thing, but harassment isn’t supposed to happen in churches, right?
Faith is not just personal; it’s political. Our leaders pass laws about how we treat one another, laws about money and finances, laws about how our resources are allocated and more. The Bible addresses these issues as well in Scriptures like the Ten Commandments, the parable of the sheep and the goats, Sabbath rules and Jesus’ advice to the rich young ruler to sell his possessions and give to the poor. To say the Bible and Jesus are not political is to deny their influence and relevance to our lives in the 21st century.
A freshly ordained, energetic new pastor arrives to the resounding “Alleluia!” of a grateful congregation. Two years later, she leaves in fury, blaming a toxic environment, with her health in tatters.