At church, my six-year-old son’s Sunday School teachers talk about the importance of being respectful in the building since church is a holy space. Their lessons go beyond just reciting rules — like be quiet during the service, no running in the hallways, no taking money from the offering plate and no throwing toys across the room. His teachers did a much better job by providing a theological foundation to the idea.
“God lives at church,” my son echoes often as we head to church.
In the U.S. context, we often hear laments about the decline of Christianity, how younger generations are walking away from faith and about our culture’s increasing embrace of immorality. If we hear such stories of doom and gloom enough, perhaps we start to believe them. But what if there’s more to the story?
It seems that since people could write, we’ve had stories warning about powerful people using their power to abuse others and to gain or preserve their power, assets or lustful desires. Homer’s “The Iliad.” Plato’s “Apology of Socrates.” And, the Bible.
In May, I trekked to North East India on a trip in partnership between Word&Way, Future Leadership Foundation and Transforming Leaders in Asia Ministries. My first trip to India, I enjoyed meeting Baptists there and learning about their culture and ministry context. I also learned a bit about driving in India.
Each weekday as I drop my son off for school, my last words to him as he grabs his backpack and hurries out of the car are “I love you!” I hope those words can carry him through his day. There are some days I want to also grab him, hug him and say those words over and over.
There is a scene in the biblical Christmas story that bugs me. I didn’t notice it for years. But one Christmas as I was preparing a couple of sermons, I was struggling with how to talk about the same stories we all know and love (without causing the congregation to saw yule logs during the sermon). I fear that sometimes we know the stories so well that we do not really pay attention to the mystery and magic of them.
As a journalist, there are stories I love to write. Like the stories from the annual gathering of the Baptist World Alliance last month in Bangkok, Thailand. These types of events inspire me and deepen my faith, so I’m excited to share them with others.
There are other stories I feel a responsibility to write about, even though I wish the issues I must address did not exist.