Wed 27 Nov 2013
It’s obvious by the sights and sounds that the Christmas season is upon us. And we know it is all about the birth of Jesus.
There is no rational doubt that Jesus was a real person. Avowed atheists admit he lived. Jews who do not believe he was God’s Messiah admit he lived. It should be no threat to anyone to admit there was a Jewish rabbi-type named Jesus. Muslims admit that.
The rub comes when the declaration is made that he was the Son of God, born of a virgin, and raised by God from the dead.
I want to look at Jesus, void of any of the things used to make him divine. I want to ask what it was about him that more or less took the world by storm.
First, it was not because he promised “pie in the sky.” Jesus did not introduce the idea of life continuing after death i.e., the resurrection of the dead. While the Sadducees represented the more conservative Jews, just accepting the “books of Moses” as authoritative, and therefore rejecting the resurrection, (Mk 12:18) the Pharisees taught the resurrection of the dead. Hence Martha could say to Jesus, concerning her dead brother, Lazarus, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection of the dead.” Jn. 11:24.
Neither were the Jews the only ones who believed in existence after death. The Greeks and Romans had their own ideas, as did other people all over the world. On this continent “the people” believed in the Great Spirit and buried necessary things along with the dead to be used in the “happy hunting ground.”
While the resurrection is a central theme in the letters of Paul, it seems there was something else. Perhaps it was that in Jesus there was an inclusion that did not exist under Jewish law, an inclusion that did not involve any law, Gentile or Jewish. It seems that in Jesus, Paul saw that relationship with God was not based on rules, genealogy and purity regulations, but on who God is, as revealed in the life and teachings of Jesus. In Jesus, the weight of thinking God could never really be pleased because of our constant failures, i.e., sins was removed. In Jesus, Paul and the others saw God in a new way. They saw a God whose very nature was love and kindness. They took Jesus at his word because it made sense. When he said to love the enemy and be good to them, he tied it in with God, saying that God “is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Lk. 6:35-36)
If I believe in God, (or the gods) then I have to decide what form that belief will take in my life. If the gods are fickle, as were the Greek gods, then I am left to the “fates”, or the particular whims of the gods at that time. I can never really know.
Even if I believe in the one God, am I going to live under the weight of constant disapproval because I am constantly impure or unclean (sinful) because that is my understanding of God? Can I find some salvation in offering sacrifices, even though I’m not sure how the blood of another living thing removes my guilt. That’s pretty much the law of Moses.
Looking at the Old Testament I think there is a progression away from the strict requirements of the law of Moses, to a more personal relationship with God. Such as in the Psalms. But it seems to be a bumpy road which got even bumpier by the time of Jesus.
I don’t think Jesus’ miracles (others did them as well) were the glue that stuck the early Christians together. I think it was the good news about the nature of God. That good news changed everything. Now relationship with others was based on God’s relationship with them. The love of Christians for others became their hallmark and is recorded in Roman history.
It might be said that the early Christians lived in the excitement of the expectation of Jesus’ quick return. That’s true, but when he did not return, while they had questions, they did not stop living the life he had taught. Why? Because when they lived out Jesus’ words, life was better. Did the teaching become corrupted at times? Yes. But wherever the ethical teachings of Jesus were practiced, the world saw the value of the words from this carpenter’s son from Nazareth. That’s one reason why we remember the time he was born.
CONCERNS: Stephanie Dixon had surgery on her arm and received a good report on another test. Regan, the ten year old boy with brain cancer is blind and slipping away. His grandfather, Richard is the one who lost a leg recently in an accident. Wayne and Susan Phlegar are both having health problems. Teryn Gaynor’s uncle has lung cancer. Zona Fisher has been dealing with back pain. Leena Bolin’s uncle is recovering from a near fatal surgery. Her brother Nick is now in hospice care. Ron Matney had to have his lower leg removed and now has a prosthetic leg. Keep the following people in your prayers as they deal with various problems. Gary Overstreet, Rich Crites, Mary Smith, Jim Hunter, Hannah, Gil Richardson, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigny, Marge Greenwood, Sharon, Connie Crite’s brothers, Jenni Cullum, Helen Nicklas, Alma Martin and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: DEC. 2-7
Monday: Isaiah 53:1-12
Tuesday: Matthew 28:1-20
Wednesday: Ezekiel 34:1-16
Thursday: Acts 21:37-22:16
Friday: Psalm 14:1-7
Saturday: Revelation 20:11-21:9&22-27
OUR DAILY BREAD: DEC. 9-14
Monday: Psalm 139:1-24
Wednesday: Matthew 12:1-14
Thursday: Colossians 2:8-19
Friday: Revelation 2:1-11
Saturday: Matthew 16:13-28
THE ADULT CHRISTMAS PARTY
This year’s adult Christmas Party will be Saturday, December 14 in the annex. Appetizers at 5:30 and we’ll eat about 6:00.
This year it will be an old fashioned Christmas. Please bring a $5.00 or so gift for the gift exchange, and as in past years, if you can, make it something made locally or in America. Home made is even good. If you haven’t signed up yet, please do so. Next Sunday is the last Sunday before the party.
Super Sunday is the Sunday following the Christmas Party. That means any leftovers will still be fresh! Plan now to stay for the fellowship meal.
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, those of you who receive the bulletin locally via mail, may not get it before Sunday. However it was mailed a day earlier than usual.
The steering committee talked about the plans to upgrade the worship service with the songs scriptures and other announcements via a visual system. We are checking to see which would best serve our needs and will began to work on this as soon as possible.
The cost of buying the equipment for this improvement has come from money donated for that purpose beyond the regular contributions.
The steering committee has decided the budget for 2014 will be the same as this years. When copies are ready the congregation will be asked for its approval of that budget, or suggest any changes.
It is easy to forget the work we have been doing for the troops winding down the war in Afghanistan. Try to remember to bring mixed cereal (assorted small boxes) granola bars, breakfast bars, pop tarts, instant grits, instant oatmeal, Little Debby’s but no chocolate. Also, coffee, creamer, sugar, and artificial sweetener.