In Search of a Better Country

Annotations, February 2023

No Flippancy, No Superiority, No Presumption

Because life inevitably becomes serious for all of us at some point. Those big things Larkin mentions—marriage, birth, and death as well as illness and loss and injury—will come knocking. A church that exists primarily for the self-help of its congregation is not setting itself up to deal with the weightier matters those members will face. If we keep it light all of the time, it is hard to turn up the dial at a moment’s notice.

Toby Coffman, A Serious House on Serious Earth

Where we lived in the US, my wife and I had often marveled that most (if not all) the churches in our city had replaced cemeteries with parking lots. The recontextualization of the church building, even on its own property, has a remarkable effect on how it is perceived by the congregation and the community in general.

On one hand, the weight of mortality is lost on those who enter the doors. Additionally, we also miss out on the imminent reminder of the resurrection to come, which we will share with the church of our forebears.

God Knows Where the Battle Is

We finished up our tea and walked back out to the gravel lot, where were met again by the first mustachioed official. He now learned who I was, and as he walked us into the main building to see the judge, he dropped back to walk beside me.

“If we work together, I bet we can change her mind,” he told me under his breath. “She’s not as set on divorce as she appears. I can tell.”

A. W. Workman, How a Christian Marriage Was Saved by a Wise Guerilla Leader

This is not only a good story, it is a small reminder of the ten thousand ways that the Lord is at work in a single event perceived largely and generally as a misfortune. For example, we had to “delay” Christmas morning with our family twice. The day we were finally able to celebrate, there was a thick snowfall, a rare event in our city. We were given the gift of a White Christmas!

Art as Incarnation

In addition to cultural objects, traditional clothes worn by the people in the illustrations bring the stories closer to the local viewer. But perhaps most appealing are the people themselves: their familiar facial features and expressions, which mirror a whole range of different emotions they are experiencing.

Teija Greed, Communicating Bible Stories the Siberian Way

There is a lot of good discussion material in this article, but the short takeaway is that contextualization is inevitable. We should guide the process with fidelity to Scripture, but also celebrate the “ownership” of the biblical narrative by the receptor culture.

He Has Not Come to Call the Righteous

Whatever you gotta say about Russell Wilson as a QB, this is a pretty joyful moment, worshiping the Lord with these inmates.