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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Awaiting the Festival of Homiletics

Here at Luther Seminary, St.Paul, MN I am waiting for a festival of preaching to begin in a few hours over in Minneapolis, MN. I was thinking about preaching the other day, not only because it is my job, nor because I'm at this festival, but rather because a friend sent me an essay which he wrote on Cormac McCarthy, and the movie done recently from one of his novels, "No Country for Old Men."
His premise, and one argued well, is that our American culture is flawed in its relentless pursuit of "mammon." Since "mammon" is a theological term, we have here a theological argument. In short, do we seek wealth (the usual synonym for mammon) at the expense of everything else? At some level this seems true...consider...
*Health Care...people are checked out of hospitals, not on the basis of wellness, but on the affordibility of care...
*Energy...alternative energy sources are often not considered on the basis of cost and profitability...rather than environmental protection. (Even now my beloved Rocky Mountain Elk are losing out to energy companies and their need to drill for oil rather than build windmills or solar towers...a tower may ruin a landscape view, but it has much less destruction of the land in the short and long run.)
I have no desire to run out a longer list, but it does seem that mammon is the primary motive and reason for many of our decisions these days....
So our Christian heritage runs against this stream...In Scripture it seems that Jesus never considered the cost of anything to be a motive to act or not act. In fact, if the story of the temple tax is to be believed, he is downright dismissive of money and its effects. So how does the Church respond to this? There is a lot of money in churches, and a lot more to be made.
But here's the thing...Christianity can never be about the money...it can be about faith, people, love, hope, or anything but money...You know in scripture we're reminded that the "love" of money (mammon, wealth, etc.) is the root of all evil. It's the idolatry, not the money, that's the problem...
So that's what we're about...where's your focus? Where's your power come from? As Christians, we hold that God died, and somehow that cross has to be your energy, your faith, your love. That's tough sometimes because who wants to die...? But without it, who wants to live? I wonder if that preaches?

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