Rev. Joel Hess is the fortunate pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Cadillac, MI, where God’s reality pierces through our illusions by His Word, flesh and blood and gentle waters. He is the author of many half-written projects; a talented musician and artist. His contributions to The Jagged Word deal with the intersection of theology, culture and the arts.
Recently, Francis Chan made headlines for stepping down from leading his very large church. To explain his decision he wrote a book, A Letter to the Churches, where he makes some very good critiques of American Christianity. Perhaps a driving critique can be summed up with his comment to an interviewer, "Too often we add in our own voices, thinking that if we just offer just the right services or package the gospel in just the right way so no one gets offended, we can convince people to stay. By catering our worship to the worshipers and not to the Object of our worship, I fear we have created human-centered churches.”
People have questioned Jesus’ love life for centuries. Why did He never marry? You have already probably heard of Dan Brown’s answer: Jesus did marry; He married Mary of Magdelene.
An intriguing video appeared on social media recently entitled, “Last of his tribe, Brazil releases a video of the ‘lonely man.’ The short video contains shaky, handheld footage of a single man cutting down wood in a forest with a narrator whispering in a combination of fear and awe.
A young man, new to serving God’s beautiful forgiven and life-given people, expressed his deepest frustration to me a short while ago. He recently had a conversation with a young woman who had just completed two years of learning about Christianity.
I vividly remember the first time I was asked to preach to a bunch of preachers. Not just preachers, but preachers whom knew the Gospel well and preached it well. They were the ones who taught me the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There was a time when everyone thought Jesus was nuts, His mom included. The Pharisees accused Him of being possessed and His family thought He was insane. They actually wanted to take Him away, maybe get some help, or hide Him from the public for a little while.
You have probably heard of the widow’s mites. Sadly, we focus on the pennies of the old lady, but forget the old lady, nameless and formless. We crucified those braggadocios Pharisees who loved to be popular, in the spotlight, let alone rich.
Surely we have all heard of the horrors of the holocaust too many times to count. How the Nazis treated people like animals literally blows our minds. Yet American slavery surely comes close to such inhumanity.
Often times friends of mine complain about our practice of baptizing infants. I used to take time arguing the fine points of why. But now I just tell them, “We only baptize infants.” It’s true.
As many of you sadly know, early on in the movie, “The Lion King,” the lion cub Simba loses his father. Fortunately, throughout the movie, we get to hear a theme song called “The Circle of Life” to make us feel better about death.