There can be no off days. There are no times when a preacher can just mail it in, saying, “I’ve covered this all before. I’ve said it all before. Perhaps this once, we’ll do something different. Perhaps, this Sunday I will take the opportunity to lay out a vision for the future of this congregation. Perhaps, this time I will get creative and show my prowess for finding the hidden connections of a particular text and how they matrix with the greater Scriptures. Perhaps, I won’t worry so much proclaiming the Word. Just this once, I won’t focus so much on the distinction of Law and Gospel and instead I’ll give some good lessons for reading the Word at home.”

By Joel A. Hess

Lions don’t make good pets. Every year we read a story about some poor fool who wanted to have a wild animal as a pet. A couple of years ago, a woman’s monkey mauled her friend. I remember trying to have a raccoon as a pet. It didn’t work out for either of us. Then, of course, there are pythons sneaking in the neighbor’s bushes, alligators in New York sewers, and from time to time a Lion leaping over his owner’s fence and rambling down Highway 131. Wild animals don’t make good pets. Yet we can’t help trying to domesticate them.

By Paul Koch

When you go to a church, not just this church but really any church, you enter a place that is intentionally designed and laid out for a specific purpose. There are places to sit, these days padded pews or even chairs that are designed to keep you engaged and comfortable but not drowsy. There are the places where music is played and where the word is preached. There may or may not be various symbols of the faith in a church, there to give the wandering eyes something to focus on. Often times there is a large cross that serves as a focal point. There could be screens upon which images are projected that are used to help convey the message and set the mood, to keep the hearers up to speed on what is coming next. We have things like air conditioning for the warms summer days and heaters to keep us toasty during the winter. All in all, church is something we’ve come to see as a comfortable, predictable, reliable place—something that is well established and controlled.