On August 15, we are returning to in-person worship at our three normal times: 9:01, 10:00, and 11:00. You probably already knew that since we’ve been announcing it over and over. But what you may not know is that another “return” is in the works starting that same day, a return to the basics of the Christian faith. We’re calling the sermon series “Christianity 101.” Several of our elders and deacons named it as a topic of interest, something we should address from the pulpit.

It’s a four-part series, with Carla preaching the first three weeks and me the last one. And there’s the problem: How does one decide on just four aspects to name the basics of the Christian faith? The moment you settle on a list, other items beg to be added. If you say “love” should be included, what about “faith”? Sure, love is the greatest, as the Apostle Paul put it, but “faith” and “hope” were on his list as well.

Before I even started my list to compare with Carla’s, I recalled just how Jewish this thing we call Christianity really is. Jesus was a Jew, and the two great commandments to love God and neighbor are from the first testament in the Bible. Still, we’re calling the series Christianity 101, not Judaism 101. But other questions arise, like should the list name that which is distinct among Christians as opposed to other world religions? If there is such a thing as 101, doesn’t that imply a 201 level of thinking is also needed? (That’s why I’m going to offer a three-part Monday night class on the topic, to keep pursuing the question and to engage in dialogue with those gathered.) In the meanwhile, we have this sermon series.

Earlier last week, I had an idea. What do you and others who attend our church think is the essence of the Christian faith? What would you say? One of the images Carla and I played with is the so-called elevator speech. I’ve never had this happen, but it’s a fun image nonetheless. With a few floors to go, someone on the elevator with you asks about the basics of Christianity. Before you hear the ding and the doors slide open, what do you say? We would love to hear your list.