Must Read Monday: Rural Superiority, Struggling Churches, and Learning to Say Hello AgainJanuary 8, 2018
Welcome to a new year of Must Read Monday! One reader asked, “How do you choose what to include in these lists? Why these stories and not others?”
I choose from among those stories that cross my personal radar but then I’m also actively looking for stories that are either explicitly about life, religious liberty, or the Christian faith or stories where moral, ethical and theological concerns are hiding just beneath the headlines.
My brief commentary on each story is offered to get the juices of thoughtful conversation going with the goal of equipping the reader to engage these conversations of the day in ways that honor Jesus.
Thanks for asking! – Carmen
How is your local church equipping members for the complex ethical medical decisions we face today? Do the pro-life conversations in your church include end-of-life preparations?
In two weeks the March for Life will take place in Washington, D.C. Life and pro-life concerns have broadened significantly in recent years. While concern for the pre-born remains central to the cry of the re-born in the pro-life movement, abortion is no longer the only issue being addressed by pro-life advocates. Broadly described as concerns for human dignity and human flourishing, pro-life for all of life includes conversations about foster parenting, adoption, food security, refugees, immigration, healthcare, family leave, education, welfare, and end-of-life concerns. This article touches on that conversation and provokes each of us to ask what our local churches are offering to members and families facing the terminus of this life. In a time when the “death with dignity” movement is a thinly veiled euphemism for suicide, Christians need to be equipped before we are confronted with a medical professional who is presenting all the options as if there are no moral consequences to choosing life or death.
Are more kings and queens the answer to ailing nations? Unsurprisingly, monarchs think so..
Remember when Israel wanted a king so they could be like all the other nations around them? God reminded them that they already had a king, God himself. But they wanted to be like the other nations and God gave them the desires of their heart. First Saul, then David, then Solomon. The rest is history.
Monarchies have been around a long time. Some of them are relatively good but many prove to be mostly bad for most of the people in the kingdom.
Christians, no matter where we live and under what form of government, have a King. We are citizens of a Kingdom. Our King is great and He is good. His Kingdom endures forever. He is enthroned in Heaven and He is enthroned as Lord in the hearts of His people. He is not like the kings of this world. Entrance into His presence is made possible by Jesus Christ, His Son.
Just this weekend, Christians around the world celebrated the coming of the kings of the world to pay homage to the King of kings. It’s called Epiphany. May we be like those first wise men who sought out and bowed down to King Jesus.
Who is supporting the churches that are in turn supporting the community?
Here is an opportunity for Christians to think and work creatively for a solution that brings the gospel and incarnational ministry into areas that cannot fund it. “Churches, especially new churches with young leadership and young congregants, seem to be a feature of stable and upwardly mobile communities. The disadvantaged communities that are most in need of the services churches exist in part to provide cannot afford to start and sustain those churches—and thus they are not getting them.”
The myth of rural superiority or why we cannot write off cities in the national narrative we’re all writing together
God is glorified by the farmer and the corporate CEO. Neither our zip codes nor our occupations make for holier living. This articles calls out the common tendency to glorify rural living and gives cities their due. “…Cities lead to things like cooperation, specialization, and trade. These things make us rich. Cities are the areas where these things are magnified. More people — constantly bumping into each other — leads to all sorts of inventions and human flourishing.” Christians know that both cities and rural communities are filled with image-bearers of the living God and are places where work is meaningful and human flourishing is of concern.
One worthy pursuit in 2018: Learning to say hello again
Be that person. My guess is that over the holidays, at some point, you watched some version of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. We watched the Muppets version, the version with Patrick Stewart and one more I can’t quite remember this morning. From 1901 right through 2017, new adaptations of the old classic continue to be produced. One thing remains consistent: Ebenezer Scrooge is transformed from a guy people avoid on the streets to one who is warmly greeted as he warmly greets others. The “man on the street” version of the man is a public testimony to the internal transformation he has experienced.
This article is about being the person who says hello and greets people as people. Make eye contact, smile, say hello. In short, be human.