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The state of the Church can be considered along with the State of the Union and State of the State

Holy Cross Catholic Church, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Celebration Church - all in Green Bay metro area


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State of the Church

This was the week for President Obama’s first State of the Union message and Governor Doyle’s last State of the State address. It is also a good time to consider the state of the Church.

Joblessness and the sagging economy were the overriding themes of the federal and state messages. What would be the theme for God’s “State of the Church”?

Followers of Christ are simply commanded to love others as they love God. Does the state of the world economy reflect such love for others? No. The sad state of the economy shows how poorly church members are loving others. This would be God’s theme for a State of the Church message.

“Last year's economic downturn highlighted our need for one another,” according to Walter Brueggemann, professor emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia. In his article in the Jan-Feb edition of Health Progress: The Journal of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, entitled The Bible, the Recession and Our Neighbor, he sees the recession as a “big wake-up call” for the US:

In a generative economy and an atmosphere of prosperity, our culture had tended toward complacency and self-indulgence inching toward selfishness.

Brueggemann puts forth six lessons:

  1. All people are connected and interrelated. Christians are to love neighbor as self. And every person on the planet is a neighbor.

  2. The poor are among those most in need of care (love).

  3. Providing basic human needs for others is a form of worship.

  4. Greed is not good. It is attained at the expense of the common good.

  5. Greed breeds anxiety. “Generosity  beats anxiety every time.”

  6. To be truly human means to have empathy and compassion for others.

These lessons give rise to profound questions:

  • Is the American attitude about joblessness selfish?

  • If God provides all anyone needs, why is there not enough?

  • Are Americans stressed out unnecessarily?

  • Are Americans as generous and compassionate with their own homeless population as they are with Haitians in their present need?


Walter  Brueggemann is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a past president of the Society of Biblical Literature.

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