Notes on 1 Corinthians 1, Week 2

In Search of Sanctuary: a lengthy profile of a UCC congregation facing decline. (The Boston Globe) An accompanying Big Picture feature here has some incredible pictures.

But the conflicts continued, exposing a divide between people who had been there for decades and more recent arrivals. In 2005, the church council advised the clergy couple to begin searching for a new church. They were already looking.

After they left, the infighting metastasized. An interim minister and associate minister clashed about how to lead the church forward. The congregation split into factions. Some people stopped speaking to one another, avoided one another’s eyes at coffee hour, even the passing of the peace.

Matt Marino discusses what it means to be “spiritual but not religious” at his blog The Gospel Side.

I recently walked the final leg of the El Camino de Santiago in Spain. Before leaving I was in a coffee house having a conversation about the trip. A guy behind me asked, “Why Spain?” My response, “It’s a spiritual thing.” Today a lot of people, particularly millennials, care about “spirituality.” 250,000 people walked The Camino in 2015. More will this year.

…Too often the evangelical church has dropped surrender for wish-fulfillment. Conservative churches have often settled for a message of self-help … diminishing God to one who exists to meet our desires. While the conservative church has lowered God, the progressive church, on the other hand, has tended to elevate humanity … purging our documents of the words of surrender: Father, king, Lord…if a symbol might be deemed “oppressive” or “problematic,” it is not to be understood in its’ redeemed context, but struck from our hymnals, prayer books, and bibles. But God is not known either by shrinking him or elevating us.

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis imagines two demons discussing how to use conflict within the church to their advantage:

I warned you before that if your patient can’t be kept out of the Church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some party within it. I don’t mean on really doctrinal issues; about those, the more lukewarm he is the better. … And all the purely indifferent things-candles and clothes and what not-are an admirable ground for our activities. We have quite removed from men’s minds what that pestilent fellow Paul used to teach about food and other unessentials-namely, that the human without scruples should always give in to the human with scruples.

Finally, in The Guardian, an article about how (of all things) McDonald’s is “the glue that holds communities together.”

Walk into any McDonald’s in the morning and you will find a group of mostly retired people clustering in a corner, drinking coffee, eating and talking. They are drawn to the McDonald’s because it has inexpensive good coffee, clean bathrooms, space to sprawl. Unlike community centers, it is also free of bureaucracy.

…Most importantly though, McDonald’s provide many with the chance to make real and valuable connections. When faced with the greatest challenges, with a personal loss, wealthier Americans turn to expensive therapists, others without the resources or the availability, turn to each other.

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