People, Get Ready

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Cristo Rey turns out to be a pretty popular church name, actually

Luke 1:68-79 A few years back, I spent a weekend in Los Angeles. I spoke at a large congregation up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, large enough that their chapel is in a separate building, itself big enough to accommodate my current congregation's entire sanctuary. I also went to visit the new cathedral of the Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles, right in downtown LA. It's built on a truly monumental scale, like what I imagine the cathedrals in Europe must look like, albeit in and archly postmodern form. Yet it's an oddly intimate space as well, with small side chapels and a nave that allows regular members of the congregation to sit near the archbishop or whoever is presiding at worship that day. It was late in the day when I visited. The lights were mostly off, and the building almost empty. There were just a few other tourists and myself, and an organist playing the enormous pipe organ. It was peaceful and meditative, but also a bit lonely, a bit lifeless. I was killing time before a dinner date, so I walked down to Olvera Street, the historic center of the city. There is an adobe mission church there called Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Angeles, called "La Placita" because it used to be the little church on the plaza. I want to tell you about La Placita. A Spanish-language mass was going on in their historic chapel, so I stopped in. As it turns out, »

The Church Belongs To The The Grandmas, The Rest Of Us Just Play In It

Luke 17:5-10 & 2 Timothy 1:3-7 I want to talk this morning about a subject that has been on my mind—on the mind of every decent pastor—for the past few years, which is how to keep the next generation in the church. It is, as you know, far from guaranteed that our children and grandchildren will grow up to become sustaining members of the community that helped to raise them. There are many possible reasons for this change. The favorite suspect is usually Sunday morning sports, but as I like to point out, that really only came about after many people decided their sabbath days were free for activities other than worship. The reason I'm thinking about this subject is a survey that came out this week that took the radical step of asking people why they left Christianity behind. The survey's authors begin by pointing out that many of the people we call millennials were children of divorced parents in the 1980's and 90's. When parents split, it becomes more difficult to maintain a consistent religious practice, with the result that many families simply stop going to church altogether. That may be why we're seeing religious disaffiliation exploding these days. But if you ask people about why they left, they come up with some surprising answers. Surprisingly few say their church became too focused on politics. Some say the clergy sex-abuse scandal pushed them out. That's mostly in the Catholic church, of course, but it »