These are typically considered “lean” times for the church. NPR has recently finished a series featuring the “nones” – the increasing number of folks, especially young adults, who profess no religious affiliation. There is growing interest in what is sometimes called “new atheism.” Many former church members now consider themselves “spiritual, not religious.”
In the church, many argue that it is time for us to grieve the end of Christendom (all the centuries when the church held a favored place in society) – and then get on with what we’re truly called to do, which is to gospel (yes, hear that as a verb).
Douglas John Hall, a respected theologian, writes that the receding of religion has left large numbers of Westerners an emptiness that neither consumerism nor social activism nor entertainment nor sex nor any other substitute for religion can fill. He believes they are waiting for something to correspond to the spirituality so many of them insist they have even when they loudly disclaim any religious affiliation.
The challenge for all serious Christians, Hall says, is not whether we can devise yet more novel and promotionally impressive means for the transmission of ‘the Christian religion’…it is whether we are able to hear and to proclaim…gospel!
For Hall, and for us, this doesn’t mean the simplistic, feel-good evangelism of so many of the new evangelical churches. It means a message that really goes to the heart of life, where the big questions are.
Lent is a good time to get back to basics, as the church follows Jesus in his journey to Jerusalem. This year, a Sunday series called Something to Say will focus on a contemporary look at such things as grace, repentance, and justification as pieces of Gospel that are deeply needed today. How can we speak and live them to a world that has often rejected “religion” but is hungry for the truth carried by the church?
Here’s a look at the scripture, and themes. Why not have a look ahead of Sunday?
February 17 Luke 4:1-3 Temptation of Jesus What’s happened to sin?
February 24 Genesis 15: 1-12,17-18 God’s promise to Abram Covenant foundation
March 3 Luke 13:1-9 A call to repentance The joy of ‘I’m sorry’
March 10 Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 The prodigal son Grace amazes
March 17 John 12:1-8 Mary anoints Jesus But what about dying?
Let’s have a good season of reflection together.