I was having a conversation with a friend the other day at our church who is a longtime member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Our church hosts a variety of Twelve Step groups like AA, and I was asking my friend for some advice on how we, as a church could do a better job of promoting them, as I didn't see them listed anywhere on our marketing materials.
Whatever age you are (unless you are the oldest person in the world) there's someone in your life who was here before you were that has seen more than you've seen, experienced more than you've experienced, and knows more than you know.
Finding the information for this post wasn’t difficult. A simple search on any Bible site or in any Bible software will spit it out this same data for you in a matter of nanoseconds.
Though many Americans identify as Christian, we often cherry pick Bible passages to support our prejudices. Many of us don’t read the Bible to be challenged, changed, or deconstructed. We read it to reinforce what we were already thinking.
There's a memory from my childhood that I will never be able to get out of my mind.
One day, outside of Flint, Michigan, my Mom and I were stuck in terrible traffic. The traffic was backed up it seems, for miles. As we eek'd our way down the highway, we could see what was causing the traffic jam up ahead. There had been some kind of accident.
Lying in bed with my eyes closed, I wondered if I was the victim of a cosmic joke. A few days earlier, I had celebrated a few moments of silence, but four days of looking at nothing but the inside of my eyelids was starting to feel like a bit too much.
The Sunday before, our entire church was silent just before the sermon. Everyone was reading the white text on the black screen in front of us. Among other thoughts of discomfort, the text said, “It’s too quiet” and “For the love of God, this is anguish.”
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
A colleague of mine told me a funny story once about his early days as a young assistant pastor. He was working at a large, influential megachurch in suburban Indiana at the time.
Each year during the Advent season, the church would set up a giant manger scene out near the entryway to the property so that passers by would be reminded of what Christmas is all about. There in the manger, nestled in the hay, my friend noticed something far too common in the suburban midwest. The baby Jesus figurine was white, blonde-haired, and blue-eyed.
Late on Saturday night, I came down with a horrible head cold. Luckily, living in the city, one can go to the store to purchase almost anything at any hour of the night, so I threw on my clothes and shoes and headed downstairs to the pharmacy to pick up some NyQuill.
I entered the pharmacy only to witness an alarming scene. A man was screaming, cursing, and threatening the cashier behind the counter. The words he was using were so violent, sexist, and cruel that I can’t repeat them here.