Regarding the discipline of practicing Sabbath (Jews prefer the Hebrew word “Shabbat”), I have read and written many sermons and articles. But nothing brings this floating, vague theological notion down out of the clouds like spending time with real, living, breathing Orthodox Jews who lovingly practice their faith.
There is an axiom among those who study world religions: In exploring other faiths, we see our own with fresh eyes. I recently returned from a pilgrimage to Israel. In a very real way, my trip enabled me to see the oddness of us, the Jesus followers — not oddness in a bad way, but rather oddness in a way that is strange to outsiders.
Our oldest child had a birthday recently. She is now grown and married, with children of her own. But you just never forget the birth of your first child. I was a pastor, so can you guess where we were when my wife went into labor? At a Wednesday night church fellowship supper! If I had been paying attention, I would have realized that this event was a portent. Our children’s lives would be forever impacted — for good or ill — by the church.
The recent passing of astronaut John Glenn has revived interest in our country’s early space flights. I remember as an elementary student being herded into our school library so we could all watch this brave man in an oversized tin can hurtling through the inky black void.
In 1787, so the story goes, a Russian named Grigory Potemkin erected a portable, fake village in order to impress the visiting Empress Catherine II.
Thus the phrase “Potemkin village” has come into our lexicon to describe anything literal or figurative that is constructed in order to deceive others into thinking that the situation is better than it really is.
Last Father’s Day I received a gift from my wife and children more precious than I can describe. Without my knowledge, they had repurposed some wood from my late father’s workshop and built a kneeling bench, or prie-dieu, for my study at home.
Words like privilege, entitlement and equal access have suddenly taken on enormous significance in our culture. Until recently, I viewed myself as very egalitarian. But on board a recent commercial flight, I learned something disturbing about myself: Maybe I’m not as committed to equality as I thought I was.
I don’t know what you were doing the week of Aug. 15, but I had a ringside seat, watching a bit of local history right before my eyes. The Medicaid 23 trial took place just a block from my church office, at the courthouse in downtown Jefferson City, Mo.
Reflecting on the recent annual gathering of the Baptist World Alliance in Vancouver, British Columbia, I was struck by two things: The deep hunger in my own life for corporate worship and the centrality of worship in our common life.