Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: March 2018


I feel in a reflective mood, which isn’t always good. I was reflecting on an interview where a woman was asked why she voted for Donald Trump. Her answer, “So I can say ‘Merry Christmas.’”
That made me reflect of something I haven’t heard lately, that America was and should always be a Christian nation. Some like the “Merry Christmas” lady, may feel it has finally become one.
It hasn’t. It never was. It never will. I’m glad it won’t. Why? Because it would cease to be America. You see, “nation” and “Christian” are not compatible. A nation is an area with boundaries. Christianity is universal. Nations seek their own partisan agenda. As Jesus noted, “Nation shall rise against nation.” (Matt. 24:7) Christianity’s agenda is a ministry of reconciliation among all nations.
A nation is built on self-preservation by military might. The Church offers itself upon the cross of suffering love. It is not seeking survival, but spreading the good news of God’s love. And, historically, nations have come and gone, but Christianity, at its worst and at its best, after two thousand years plus, still can be a power for good.
Citizens of a nation are, in a general sense, simply those born there, like it or not. No one is born a citizen of the Church. It is by choice that one becomes part of Christ’s purpose on earth.
I don’t want to spend much time on the history of America and its Constitution, but some things need to be remembered. America was never a Christian nation by those who shaped the Constitution. “Christian” nor “God” is mentioned. “Creator” and “Supreme Judge of the World” is, but these are Deist statements which can mean anything. “Religion” is mentioned and everyone is free to choose what that religion is. Article IV.
The Treaty of Tripoli (1797) stated that “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
There is not enough space nor need to mention everything Thomas Jefferson said about the Bible or religion. However, moving forward in history it was 1954 when the Eisenhower administration added “Under God” to the pledge of allegiance. It should also be noted that President Eisenhower also said, “Our government makes no sense unless it is founded on a deeply religious faith–and I don’t care what it is.”
The idea of a “Christian America” distorts Christianity. It’s the idea that America cannot be a good and significant country unless it is “Christian.” Who is America? America is the people, all people, not just Christians. In fact, often enough it has been “America” which has taught “Christians.” Two examples are racism and patriarchy, both of which were strongly held views by the majority of Christians in earlier periods of America’s development.
Before I go any farther, I should explain the title of this article. In 2016 the state of Tennessee House and Senate pushed a bill to make the Bible the official state book. The Governor, having more civic and historical understanding of America, vetoed the bill. Hence, they missed it by that much. Thank God. By the way, Louisiana also tried and failed, for now.
It’s not that the Bible is not important. It is. But a nation or a state is first of all lead by it’s constitutional law.The Bible is about God, the Jews, Jesus and Christianity.
Jesus, as the leader of Christianity was about a suffering, giving, love for all, even the enemy. If we lay that beside America, the idea that this is a “Christian” nation is a failure.
Jesus said the teaching of the kingdom of God was to be like salt and light. It was like leaven. It was like a mustard seed which grows in the soil (of any country) and brings forth in abundance.
If it becomes captive to any one people or country, it loses its universal value. It becomes identified with a certain ideology, rather than the loving, divine power penetrating the whole of creation. As such, the teachings of Jesus (Christianity) belong to and can thrive in any country, in any culture, in any situation. A Christian church can produce Russian Christians, African Christians and socialist Christians, among others. Democracy, however it is defined, is not Christian, even though at its best it employs the teachings of Jesus.
The Jews (Hebrews) were led by prophets, not kings, at least that was the ideal. It was to be a theocracy. Reading the Old Testament shows that didn’t work very well, as kings and politicians (religious leaders) took power. What would have worked? The easy answer would be if they kept the Law of Moses i.e., and the prophets (God). Did they? Not very well.
Who were the voices of God in the Old Testament? Rarely a king. The record of kings is up and down. But at all times there were prophets. Moses is called a prophet. Nathan guides David and so on. The Jews felt everything hung on the law and the prophets, not on the kings. That being true, what were the guiding principles of the prophets? Take my word for it, they are consistent.
Amos can speak for all them. “Let justice roll down like waters.” 5:24. The rich trample on the poor. 5:11. The poor are driven out or cheated by rigging the scales and currency and the floor sweepings were sold for wheat. 8:4-6. Amos’ message is summed up in chapter 5: “I hate, I despise your religious feasts: I cannot stand your assemblies.” v.21
Isaiah, working in Judah says God denounces the elders and princes of his people and saying “the spoil of the poor is in your houses” Isa.3:14 .
In summery: the powerful treat the poor, who make up most of the populace, as sources of wealth and underpaid labor, using coercion, dishonesty, legal technicalities, and even violence. Justice is the opposite. See Ezek. 18:5-9.

CONCERNS: Judy Hall is in room 116 at Raleigh Court. She is making headway and as soon as she can walk she will go home. Jim Hunter is having pain. Prayers are asked for the Scotts who lost a three month old baby to apparent SIDS. Also for Carlo and Silvia Baltedano in Montellano, Guatemala. Deanna McRoy is cancer free at this time,but the type she has is very aggressive and can return. Keep The Beach’ parents in prayer, as well as a niece, Jamie Cole. Also Del Bolin’s mother, Teryn Gaynor’s mother, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

Today’s service will be lead by Wayne Flora. These third Sunday services give us a chance to listen to the gospel from those of the congregation. Be sure to thank Wayne for his service.

This is also Super Sunday, which means we will enjoy a meal together in the annex following the service. Visitors are considered our guests. Please stay.

Del Bolin has been serving as the team doctor for Radford University and traveled to Dayton Ohio with them where they scored their first tournament win in several years. They went on to Pittsburgh and at the time of this printing had not yet played, so if Del is here it means they lost.

Just kidding a little. It was mentioned that since we are now required to pay for trash collection, we could now begin to clean up the area at the end of our property and the city would remove the brush placed on the curb. You may notice the pile Len Jordan worked up is gone. Yeah! However, a call was received from the city saying they do not do that for businesses, and we are a business. So all we get for the money is that other refuse except brush will be picked up. But some nice man did pick it up. We can fill the dark can with brush, or haul it away. Such is life in the big city.


“Never again will I curse the ground because of man.” Gen. 8:21
I’m not going to write about the flood, but I am going to mention a rainbow.
As you may know, the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida have labeled one of several organized protests against the lack of political movement to quell gun violence, especially with assault-type weapons, “Never Again.”
When they returned to that school on Monday to retrieve what they had left behind in the wake of the shooting, which left fourteen students and three faculty dead, they were greeted by a rainbow in the sky.
The school hockey team lost one member to the shooting. They were to play in a tournament to decide the state championship and they were not expected to move up in the brackets. They won the state with seventeen players.
Let’s recap. Seventeen people killed. Seventeen players won the state hockey championship as underdogs. One protest movement chose “Never Again” as their slogan and a rainbow greeted them on Monday as they went to the school for the first time since the shooting.
If I were a person who looked for omens and signs, and I was one of those the students feel have dragged their feet due to political pressure, I’d be worried. In fact, they need to be worried regardless.
I was in my mid twenties when the civil rights movement was gaining momentum. I remember a preacher passed out literature with a black man’s face super-imposed over a monkey, which contained all the dangers of rape and sexually transmitted diseases and social chaos blacks and black/white marriage would bring into the populace if they were granted equality. A discussion took place and one preacher offered what he felt was the calming word. He said something like, “This can’t be pushed on people. You can legislate it. It will take time.”
“Now is not the time to talk about it.” “We’ve got to move slowly” That has been said after every mass shooting or social crisis. But there comes a time when, as Victor Hugo said, “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” Get ready, that time has come, just as it did with integration and a long historical list of other such events.
There are those who see the students at Stoneman Douglas as immature and not able to make decisions on such an important issue. On one social media outlet, a retired teacher for 24 years, wrote her solution to Parkland’s shooting. She told the students not to protest, but to go back to school and find the lonely, ignored, etc., person and make friends with them. It was long letter offering some good advice. It seems she was sure this would solve the problem. Her solution never addressed the fact that some damaged people do not kill others, in fact, in many cases they go on to become leaders. The mystery of nurture or nature and evil has not yet been solved. Her suggestion misses the urgency. While reaching out to the “loner” or lonely, nothing is done to stop the one not yet reached, or can’t be reached, who has a killing machine in their hand.
Where would we be with racism in America if no one had stood up and said, “Enough”? I’m not sure where we would be, but it wouldn’t be where we are, and we’ve not gone far enough.
Those who see the students as being children, not mature enough to understand the big picture, might want to remember the quiet line of black children walking in protest in Montgomery Ala., who were met with fire hoses and police dogs. It was seen around the world and the power of Jim Crow and Bull Conner cracked a little more.
These young people in Florida were met with round after round from an assault rifle. It also was seen around the world and the survivors can hear the political powers cracking.
Throwing in a little Bible, we might remember David and Goliath, which has become the standard for the little guy beating the big guy. Or even the words of the prophet Isaiah, “And a little child shall lead them.”
Students across America are making their voices heard. They will march on Washington and they will not even have to march around the Capital seven times, if you listen carefully you can already hear the foundations of self-interest, greed and power cracking. The time has come. Sadly once again, at the cost of children.
Finally, the words of junior Sheryl Acquarola, as she gave her emotional protest speech at the State House in Tallahassee: She said her little brother told her as he left for his grade school following the Douglas shooting, “Don’t worry, I won’t be murdered at school today.” Think about that.

3-Vivian Dugan 5-Bonnie Blessing
12-Buster McRoy 13-Bill Albert
29-James Downing 31-Erma Williams

10-Alan & Joni Beach
19-Bill & Martha Alb

CONCERNS: Judy Hall was to be transferred to Raleigh Court Nursing Care on Friday. Mark McRoy asks prayer for a colleague, Keith Scott and his wife who lost a three month old baby to apparent SIDS. Also prayers for Carlos and Silvia Baltedano who live in Montellano, Guatemala and are part of the Health Talents team at the Ezell Clinic. Deanna McRoy has been given a cancer free at this time. However, her type of cancer is very aggressive and can return. Teryn Gaynor’s mother is still being treated for cancer. Both Joni and Alan Beach’s parents are experiencing health problems as is Del Bolin’s mother. Continue to remember Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, Marjorie Wilson Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Rat and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jamie Cole, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

March 11 (next Sunday) starts Daylight Savings Time. Be sure to set your clocks ahead an hour before going to bed on Saturday.
Each year, usually in March, a member of Gideons International speaks to us about the Gideon’s work of distributing Bibles throughout the world. Richard Perkins will represent them this year. He will speak briefly before the sermon and will take an offering in the foyer after the service from those who wish to contribute.
Thanks to Len Jordan for cleaning up the lower end of the parking lot. It had been overgrown with ivy creeping out from the yard. Lyn is also interested in cleaning the lower end of the yard between us and the apartments. Since we now pay for refuse collection all be have to do is stack it on the curb. However, large trees will have to be cut in smaller sections. A day will be planned for this work as the weather gets milder.
The Wednesday Evening Class continues in the Gospel of John. This week we will start chapter 4, where Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well.
March 18 will be the next Super Sunday. Plan now to attend.
If you are graduating from any educational school or training center, let Erma Williams Know. The banquet will be in May.
Vivian Dugan will be away for the next few weeks.