By creating welcoming threshold places and training members to practice good Christian hospitality, congregations can help people to feel comfortable as they move from the outside world to the inside of the church for the very first time.
Assuming my speculation is accurate -- that gun zealots in the U.S. tend to be religious and conservative -- I wonder if they ever pause to ask themselves what would Jesus do in reaction to the sporadic, yet persistent incidents of violence in the country.
Decades ago Catholic schools moved children of immigrants up the social ladder through education. Today, they provide a different form of alternative education, giving parents at all economic levels a choice to send their children to a school that is right for that child.
Challenge a Christian to make one single argument for homosexuality being wrong that doesn't quote or reference the Bible, and suddenly they're in a house of mirrors; suddenly the only thing they can only point to is themselves.
The question of whether we see the world through the eyes of Javert or Valjean amounts to our understanding of justice. For Javert, justice is retribution in the interest of maintaining an abstract order; for Valjean, justice is solidarity in the interest of personal love.
Although there exist several differences between the two traditions, if we hope to love our neighbors as ourselves, then collectively we need to make an attempt to cross these bridges instead of just standing on one side looking across.
Six years ago, I ditched New Year's resolutions in favor of choosing one word to be my focus for the year. Just one word that represented what I most hoped God would do in and through me in the 12 months to come.
Advent should be the season for us to reflect, not just on the tenderness of the manger scene, but of what that scene represents below the surface. It should push us to understand that God became incarnate in the world of the poor and oppressed and shared intimately in that reality.
Jesus showed us that there are times when we must stand up and express truth to power in constructive, meaningful, unyielding ways despite the possible consequences. Just as God is righteously angered over oppression and injustice, so should we be.
When soldiers come to arrest and execute Jesus, one of his closest friends defensively picks up a sword to protect him. Jesus' response is stunning: He scolds his own disciple and heals the wounded persecutor.
I want to be the kind of person who awaits the end of the world like a little kid waits for Santa Claus. If you have that kind of hope, then the only thing funny about the apocalypse is the idea that anyone could predict when it might happen.
Where is God? He is here on this street, laying naked in the gutter. He is here on this street, homeless. He is here on this street, in all the lonely and unwanted, waiting for our love. I wonder, what will it take for us to notice Him?
Parents, children and teachers woke up last week in Newtown, Conn., and had no idea that life as they knew it was over. But what I must say this morning is this: Darkness does not win. Jesus was born, lived and died so that darkness does not win.
I write about real-life because that is where I live with three active boys at home -- one curious 9-year-old Gus and 15-year-old twins, Wesley and Mickael Josef. And now my college-age son Ryan and his fiancée Larissa are home for Christmas as well with my daughter Rachel and her husband!
If we are being honest with ourselves, we must admit that our national histories, our ethnic histories, our religious histories, our family histories, our personal histories, all take precedence over the Bible.
Certain Christians seem compelled to speak for God in disorienting moments like these, and the results are frequently terrible. The rest of the church has a responsibility to get angry and repudiate such statements.