The May 14 issue of Christian Century carried a brief notice of a curious happening in England. A church in Oxford filed for a permit to sponsor a Good Friday passion play. The Oxford City Council apparently declined to approve their request. The reason? The Council members thought a passion play was a live sex show. In a statement of apology, the Council said it “did not appreciate that this was a religious event.”
I rather doubt this misunderstanding would occur in most American localities. Most Americans retain a general sense of the Christian story. So when a church uses the word “passion” to publicize an event the week prior to Easter, at least one person in most groups would understand it is a reference to Jesus’ journey to the Cross.
It is, however, a portent of what happens when a culture treats worship, Christian education and spiritual formation casually. Stories that never get a hearing soon lose common comprehension or acceptance in the minds and hearts of the public.
The author of an article in a recent publication of a Christian organization quoted the phrase “to whom much is given much is required,” and attributed it to John F. Kennedy. Nice try, but no. It was spoken by Jesus.
The dumbing of our populace toward Christian words, themes, traditions, and stories is the underlying motivation for much of what we do at River Road Church, Baptist. It explains our reason for reading two selections from the Bible in worship each Sunday. It explains our rationale for holding Sunday school classes for the youngest child to the oldest adult. It tells why we hold special services during seasons holy to Christians, why we plan Vesper services in summer months and why we are already hard at work on Vacation Bible School.
It also explains why we don’t take the summer off around here. Our relationship to the Divine is too important to ignore for three months while we seek a respite from the routine. Look for ways to stay involved, so we do not become a people who “knew not Joseph.”
If the above phrase isn’t familiar, you have some remedial work to do.