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Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Chicago Tribune reported today that thousands of families that were given “right to return” vouchers when they were forced to move due to CHA’s Plan For Transformation have been taken off the list now that few of the promised units have been built.  Many Lathrop Homes residents have been impacted.  Read more….


Thoughts by Pastor Bruce Ray

Today, I received an unsolicited email announcing the creation of a new Christian television network.  I’m omitting the name of the network so I can’t be accused of promoting something I know little about.  What caught my attention was the following: 

“Our ultimate goal is to provide a powerful new Christian entertainment option for the world while also helping to grow churches like yours.  We’ve been blessed with a great response so far and are on track to reach 1 million viewers this month.  I wanted to let you know that we’ve recently launched our Sermon Spotlight show, which features 20 to 30 different sermon clips from across the country on each episode.  This is a free way to get national exposure for your church and help get your message out.”
It was the boldface words that got to me.  Christian Entertainment Option (for the world).  Sermon Spotlight show.  Is this the state of American Christianity?  Is it no more than an entertainment option?  Are sermons now reduced to shows and “clips”?  
I’m sure there has been a certain element of showmanship and entertainment throughout the centuries of Christianity.  I think of people traveling to the Jordan River to get a glimpse of the crazy guy who eats bugs and rants.  I’m sure that was entertaining.  I think of others gathering around the base of a pillar to watch the hermit, Simeon Stylites, sit for 37 years.   That’s entertainment!  More recently, evangelist Billy Sunday’s frenetic delivery was about the best show in town (and it was free to boot.)  And the word “televangelist” is almost synonymous with “showman”.  
I try my hardest not to be boring when I preach, but I am uncomfortable with the idea of my sermons being turned into an entertainment commodity.   When sermon equals entertainment, something is lost.  That Something is the Word of God that fundamentally challenges us and our culture.  Plenty of people followed Jesus until he said, “eat my flesh and drink my blood.”  Suddenly, he wasn’t so popular.  The messages of the Bible and Jesus’ teaching are often intentionally difficult and require serious reflection and self-evaluation.  Just ask the rich young ruler with the right answers and the wrong priorities.  Sermons shouldn’t be evaluated by how many times they make me laugh but by whether God moves me toward becoming like Christ.  
What do you think?

Thank you, Pope Francis, for speaking truth to power and for calling us all to prayer for a negotiated settlement in Syria.  In his address on September 1, the Pope unequivocally condemned the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, but also strongly expressed opposition to the military response proposed by the US and France.  He raised his voice and declared, “War brings on war! Violence brings on violence.”  Amen!  That is why we are joining our brothers and sisters at the Logan Square Eagle monument (Milwaukee and Kedzie) on September 11, at 7:00 pm to pray for peace in Syria and to pray that our national leaders will pursue a response that does not result in more destruction and loss of life.  We invite everyone who desires and pursues peace to join us.

For more on Pope Francis’ address, follow the link.