Monthly Archives: March 2014

What’s “The Story”?

What’s “The Story”?

Now in this condensed bible which my church has been reading since September, we enter the New Testament. Who chose which segments to leave out of this version? I’ve read of all the kings and killers, warriors and prophets, but now in the New Testament I do not get to read of the great friendship between two relatives, Mary pregnant with Jesus visiting Elizabeth, also pregnant, with John the Baptist. The honor and understanding that Elizabeth expressed in her greeting to Mary showed her to be the first person of the New Testament to acknowledge Jesus as Lord. Surely the first we hear proclaim him her Lord. Had anyone up to this point in time, ever pronounced a baby in the womb her Lord?
So that was omitted. Oh, what we women are up against in being viewed as inconsequential by the powers that be in the world of the learned Christian publishers.
Surely there are other wonderful things left out of the bible so why “quibble?” We can’t include them all! Yes, surely true. So why complain over this Elizabeth? Because she was one of the infinitesimally few women named and with a speaking part. That she appeared at all is a miracle against the grain of that historical period in which the scripture was being saved and handed down. No other religious writings this ancient contain ordinary or extraordinary women in any role, they are absent, nonexistent from the sacred writings of other religions. That is why the few portions such as Mary and Elizabeth’s visit are of import. They shine with the true message of inclusion, love, humility, and upsetting the apple cart of snobbery and arrogance of this world system that was and is, what Christianity is all about.

That these two women’s relationship is disregarded in this new edition which many churches are reading together today in 2014 shows me that some who speak for our true faith, are not able to appreciate the message of God. We have to speak up or the message is lost.


Numbers and Lent Don’t Add Up!

My title needed an arrow pointing up instead of an exclamation mark. The proverbial sign for heaven, up there above our heads, where who knows what numbers add up to?
Our church’s special letter for Lent encourages all to come back to adult Sunday School class where we are studying the Story, the Bible in manageable form. It makes sense to do this. “Let’s make this the biggest SS class in our church’s history!”

Why not also encourage attendance at the very same study on Monday nights for those unable to make the Sunday morning class? A very capable intern leads that class. We usually do have a midweek Lenten study so this could be it, instead. But then, that could detract from the big numbers they are looking for on Sunday morning.

My gut said Lent and numbers don’t mix, but I could be wrong. After all the mainline church is decreasing in numbers daily, while our pastor’s doctoral studies focused on building up the church in all ways yet pointedly in its numbers. So do numbers and Lent go together??
Heavenly coincidentally, here’s what happened next.

My holy reading this morning was Christian Century Magazine, Editor’s Desk. John Buchanan writes in his article Being Christ’s Body, about feeling like Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey, watching the downsizing of his beloved estate.
In his last paragraph he shares, “I have a proposal: Let’s call a moratorium on counting members. Let’s consider that we are called to witness to God’s love in Jesus Christ and to do everything we can to be Christ’s body in the world, to do what we believe he would be doing and is doing through us.

Numbers abound in scripture….the multitudes Christ fed, the Pentecost crowds, “make disciples of all nations,” Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars. How hard the task of a minister to discern the appropriateness of his images. I felt that Lent was holy and sad and yet the source of our life’s ultimate gladness and rejoicing. So is it good to mix numbers and lent? Maybe it is a bold move on our minister’s part and I am just envious I am not an insider leader of my church, helping to grow great numbers of followers. Or maybe I am a critic who sees that our focus on numbers can be unholy at times. Are numbers a kind of score that is a shallow measurement in Christian life or are they a kind of Hallelujah!?

For me they can’t be a Hallelujah. Here’s why.

If my Christian church taught that homosexuality was not a sin, that historical analysis shows that Paul’s admonition of how it was “unnatural” really is not based on the known reality of nature, since homosexual creatures exist in nature, then, then, I think I would shout, ” Yes, grow in numbers!! Publicize these numbers during Lent!”

Until that happens I won’t care about numbers any time of the year all that much.
One unpleasant tickle still remains, though, and that is, why not shout out for an increase in the numbers of the Monday night class, too? Make it the biggest evening class in our church’s history?