IMAGINE The title of the beautiful and probing John Lennon song. Of course, the Christian community isn’t too keen on imagining there is no heaven or hell. On the other hand it is a call for peace and loving one’s neighbor as oneself. That is Christian. However, I wonder if we as Christians can imagine a world where the teachings of Jesus, and the rest of the ethical principles of the Bible are lived out? Or, secretly do we see Jesus as a hopeless romantic on the same level as Lennon?
Perhaps we see Jesus as one who knew it would never happen, but wanted to get the world as close as possible so the “Many are called but the few are chosen” could be saved. By the way, that passage in Matthew 22:14 must mean something other than what it seems to say. Jesus has just told a parable about a king who had a wedding feast and no one came. So all kinds of people, both the good and the bad were invited. In fact, Many are called (chosen) and get to stay, it is the one man, the “few” who is thrown out.
But the question is, “How do we really feel about the ethical teaching of Jesus”? For example, how do we feel about what we sometimes call “the golden rule”? Do we dare ask what would happen in the halls of congress, business, and around the world, if people began to practice that principle? Do we come and praise the Lord, while all of the time we think he was a little naive.
When we read the words, “Love you enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, do we smile and say it’s a nice thought but it won’t work? If we were asked what approach to life was the best, of course we would say the Christian life. But if we were asked which way of life was the most powerful, would we say the same thing? Do we worship an all powerful God and then live in such a way as to say God’s power is less powerful than whatever other power stands against the ideals and life of Jesus? Are we so “other worldly” that we have given up hope on the “God so loved the world that he gave his only son to die” for?
Am I looking for a utopia? No. But can I hope for and even imagine a world without conflict? By that I mean a world that is without war. Not a world where everyone will always agree or even get along. Just a world that has learned to settle differences without killing. A world where we have finally come to realize that we are all one family.
I can almost hear (because I’ve heard it over and over in my life) someone quoting Jesus’ saying, “There will be wars and rumors of wars.” That’s a good example of “pull and paste.” In context, in both Matthew and Mark, Jesus is talking about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Those with him have asked how they will know when it’s coming, so he tells them.
Are we hopeless romantics when we sing “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me”? Are we just going through the motions when we say the words of the commonly called “Lord’s Prayer” when we say, “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? Is that a prayer we expect to be answered? Thankfully we have stopped saying the prayer is invalid because the kingdom has already come as the church. The prayer plainly calls for us to ask that God’s will will be done on earth. The question is if we think that is a valid request? If it isn’t, why would Jesus think it was?
So much of the Christian’s life is going to church, keeping some commandments, singing the songs and feeling good. Along with that we read, or hear read, the scriptures and nod our heads in agreement. But when asked what we really believe in about the power of God and the teachings of Jesus, we get a little uneasy. And I can understand it because I do too. I have to dig deep to find those in history who practiced the principles of Jesus. When I do I am then threatened as to if I really want to be like them. It seems all of their work was only recognized after they had either died or been killed.
I can bring whatever peace and good I can to my own little world, but that’s not the question. The question is whether I believe I’m just doing it to satisfy God, or because it really makes a difference in a future that can go on longer than I can imagine. I want to imagine it does.
CONCERNS: Wayne Phlegar is recovering well from knee surgery. Ron Matney also had surgery on his leg and is doing well. He will have to stay in for a few weeks, especially during slippery weather. Martha Albert’s new grand nephew is growing stronger each day. Remember little Isabel, the daughter of friends of the Bolins who has leukemia. Tamala Beach will soon be finished with radiation treatments. Julie, a friend of the Phlegars in Texas, is recovering slowly from a stoke. Polly Altice is about the same. Her son. James, is not doing as well as before, as he deals with cancer. Chris Phlegar has returned to a war zone, and we will know more about where later on. Continue to remember Jo Wagner’s mother, Jewell Racer, Teri Burks, Trixie Long, Roger Fisher’s nephew in Florida who has cancer. Barbara McCauley, Lureline Ferguson, Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder and the work of Health Talents Int. And Bread For A Hungry World and those suffering in Haiti and those who are trying to alleviate that suffering.
OUR DAILY BREAD: FEB. 8-13
Monday: Ephesians 1:3-14
Tuesday: Philippians 1:3-18
Wednesday: II Corinthians 9:6-15
Thursday: Luke 5:17-26
Friday: I Timothy 6:1-10
Saturday: Psalm 111:1-10
OUR DAILY BREAD: FEB. 15-20
Monday: John 1:1-18
Tuesday: Luke 18:1-14
Wednesday: I Corinthians 5:1-8
Thursday: II Corinthians 1:23-2:11
Friday: Job 1:13-2:11
Saturday: Psalm 97:1-12
Because of the weather we have not been able to set a Sunday when we will take up a special collection for the earthquake victims in Haiti. We are also looking at which organization to send the funds to. From what we have received it seems most of the funds have been going to Helping Hands in Nashville. More on that when we are able to have services again. We may have another winter storm this weekend so watch either channel 10 or 7 for updates.
THANK YOU CARDS
In December folks from Blue Ridge Behavioral’s Project Link used our annex for a Christmas party for some of their clients. We have received two cards from several of the women who were here. About nine women signed the cards and commented on the lasting impression they have from our kindness. The cards are on the downstairs bulletin board.
As we’ve been announcing, the troops we have been sending goodies and other things to in Iraq are being sent to Afghanistan. So until we find a contact, either with the chaplain, or if and when Chris Phlegar arrives, we are going to hold up on what we’ve been sending. However, when we do resume we will have perhaps an even deeper commitment with some donated things we will have to prepare for shipping. The fact that a single idea given to us by Wayne and Susan has grown to this point is a wonderful thing and an example as to what God can do when we do good things ourselves.
Several of our young folks will be attending Winterfest in Gatlinburg, TN on the weekend of February 20,21. This “happening” gives them a chance to see other friends from around the area, as well as from farther away in an atmosphere of learning and song. Keep them in your prayers as they travel.
JUST A REMINDER
One of the new opportunities we have been given is helping settle immigrants in our area with such things as household goods, etc.. A list of those things is on the table in the foyer. Also remember the Samaritan Inn and the Rescue Mission.