Is the glass half empty or half full? We all know people who say only an blind and diluted person would say half full. In fact, there are those who think the glass is quickly emptying. It’s not a matter of time running out, though it might, it’s a matter of civilization becoming a moral cesspool. Take a room of a hundred people and ask about the future and my guess it will be about 50/50 as to if it will be better.
There is truth in the phrase, “That’s how I see it.” How we view the world around us is the result of how we see it. It is also a fact that two people may see the same world and come away with different opinions. How is that possible? That’s the question philosophers and social scientists have been studying for centuries.
Was Jesus a half full or a half empty guy? I can almost hear the gears of scripture grinding. The prophets paint a pretty dim picture in the Old Testament. But they also speak of the restoration of Israel in glowing and utopian terms. But what about Jesus?
If you look on the internet about Jesus being pessimistic or optimistic, you will find multiple ideas. Some laughable, to say the least. There are lots of quotes from the prophets about how the Messiah would not be someone who would attract us, a man of sorrow, despised and afflicted etc. Poor Jesus, with all those descriptions he didn’t have a chance. “Be careful not to look like you’re having too much fun out there eating and drinking with the sinners, Jesus!”
Some say Jesus was neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but realistic. Who can define realism? Is there such a thing as realism? Is realism the end of hope and faith?
The dictionary definition of realism and all its associated words, does not really define reality. “The practice of accepting a situation as it is and dealing with it accordingly.” Great. Is the situation really “as it is” or is it as I perceive it to be? Is it possible that the big black thing coming at me in the dark woods is not a bear, as the accepted situation appears to be, but rather a big black dog? We tend to define reality according to our situation, even if the situation isn’t the reality we assume it to be. (Even my head is spinning after saying that!) So let’s get back to Jesus.
I confess I’m looking at Jesus from a half full philosophy of life. That doesn’t mean I am never pessimistic, like how I feel about the way things are in the political climate of the country. But as a follower of Jesus, I want to know as best I can in my somewhat prejudiced mind, how he viewed the world for which he was going to give his life. Did he see it as a lost cause? Did he know that even though he would die trying to bring about the kingdom of God on earth as it was in heaven, it would never happen? When I say the kingdom of God on earth, as Jesus did in his prayer in Matthew 6, I mean the earth as God would have it to be. Did Jesus believe that was possible?
This begs the question of why he did what he did. Did he know what God wanted was not possible, even though he would teach it as though it was? Did he, as many do, see himself as simply a sacrifice to pay God for the dept of the world’s sin?
Here is how I see Jesus. His life was to teach people the will of God. No better summation of that can be found than in the sermon on the mount in Matthew and the sermon on the plain in Luke. Any life that lived out those moral and ethical teachings would be the life God wanted for humankind. Doing it would be the kingdom of God on earth as it is in the mind of God i.e., “heaven.”
Did he know that he, as the prophets before him, would be rejected and even die? Yes. Did knowing that stop him from teaching the will of God? No. Did knowing that he would be rejected mean that he had failed? No. Failure is to do nothing. Success is to know that each one who teaches the nature and love of God, will change the world. Did Jesus do that? I think so. That’s why I believe he knew his life and death was worth it, and that in doing what he did would keep the world in balance. Evil would never be more powerful than God (good).
So when I get pessimistic I find the news stories about random and unusual acts of kindness. I experience a young person holding open a door for me with a smile and a “Hello.” I remember a little boy in a Chinese restaurant who wished us “Happy Thanksgiving” as we paid our check.
Do I feel that way all the time? No. But I believe in God’s world, if nothing better, it stays balanced.
CONCERNS: Debbie and Buster McRoy’s daughter-in-law, Deanna, has had a reoccurrence of cancer. Judy Hall was hospitalized for about all of last week with a painful blocked saliva gland. She is to be released today, 12/3. Scott Blessing weather related has back problems that has kept him at home. Both Joni and Alan Beach’s parents are having health problems. Remember also Joni’s niece, Jamie Cole. Gary Overstreet is now home. Continue to remember Teryn Gaynor’s mother as she has cancer treatment. Del bolin’s mother, Tolly Nicklas, Leena’s cousin, is in hospice care with late stage ALS. Abby Keeting, the little girl being treated for leukemia. Josh Thirston, recovering from a kidney transplant. Laura Schreiner has been unable to be out lately. Melisha Scruggs friend, Jeanie, who has a small child with various health issues. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
We are both happy and sad that Ben Robertson has found a job in his field. However, it will take him to Manassas. He will start on Dec. 11. Over the years Ben has been with us, he has been a part of every part of the church life. With his kind and quiet strength he made us all better.
CHRISTMAS SUPER SUNDAY DINNER
As we did last year, our special Christmas dinner will be the Super Sunday meal on Dec 17. Plan to bring a special dish and enjoy the decorated annex.
THE NEW ENGLAND VILLAGE
Judy McWhorter has set up her New England Christmas village in the annex. She does this in honor of her mother’s memory.
This year it looks especially beautiful due to the hanging quilts she has hung along the walls. Stop by the annex on Super Sunday and look at it.
Over the years we have met on Christmas Eve for a Christmas service. This year Christmas in on a Monday. It has been suggested that we do the Christmas Eve service at the morning service on December 24, rather than in the evening.
That service, for those who haven’t attended a Christmas Eve service, will consist of singing the songs of Christmas and hearing the corresponding scriptures read.
The communion service and offering will be at the conclusion and the final song will be “Let There Be Peace on Earth”
Thanks to Holly Wagner for setting up the Christmas tree in the annex. Also to Leena Bolin for the beautiful decorations both in the auditorium and the annex. To Wayne Flora for helping hang the quilts and Adam Fleming for replacing the annex lights.