Imagine if you will, two Roman men talking at a local watering hole sometime in or around AD 56. Of course, they wouldn’t know it was AD anything, because Dionysius Exiguus hadn’t decided to call it that yet, which he did in 525 (AD).
Androclies says to Antonious, “Tony, have you heard about that new sect of Jews that’s spreading across the world?”
“No. Don’t tell me more are coming! I’ll never understand why the government decided to bring them here in the first place! You know what they did to property values! I’m hoping the Emperor will see how wrong that was and decide to send them all back where they came from.”
“I know, and I hear rumblings that he is getting a little nervous about them. But this is a whole new breed of Jews. As you know, the ones who have been here stick to themselves. They don’t bother us or try to change our beliefs. I’m pretty sure it’s because they think they’re better than us. You know, that chosen people thing.”
“So what’s with the new bunch? What are they all about?”
“I’m not sure, except they claim the king of the Jews has come in a guy named Jesus. Some of them call him the Messiah, which as you may know, is the Hebrew word for king.”
“Well, that won’t fly well with the Caesar. But I don’t see any reason to worry about him. He will be gone in short notice.”
“Oh, they took care of him about 23 years ago over in Jerusalem. They crucified him.”
“So what’s the big deal?”
“They say he rose from the dead.”
“You mean alive? Not just a spirit?”
“So they say.”
“Who’d believe that, and why? We all know about life after death. That’s what the Elysian Fields are. Why would anybody want to improve on that?”
“Well, you know we got most of that from the Greeks. I’m not saying it isn’t true, but it does have some complications. First it was said that the fields were reserved only for the ones chosen by the gods, and then only through some kind of relationship.”
“Yeah, I remember. But the new teaching is that you can earn entrance by living a good life. But it’s still not clear how that happens. It seems the gods can still vote you out. Besides, I’ve seen a lot of dead people, but I’ve never seen any of them after they went under to the hadean world. Have you?”
“No. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true. After all, according to the scholars, the Elysian Fields are at the western edge of the world where nobody has gone. It is supposed to be a place where everything is wonderful with everything you need for happiness.”
“Do you think I failed temple school? I know all about what is supposed to happen! I’m just saying I have some doubts. The Greeks have their own way of thinking about things like that. So how are these new Jews different?”
“From what I can tell, they want everyone to believe in one god, not many.”
“That’s crazy! How could one god take care of everything? You have to have a god for each life event. That way you get the full effect of their individual power.”
Androclies looks up and sees a friend coming. “Hey, there’s Aeneas. He’s been known to talk to these new Jews. Let’s ask him.
“Aeneas! Come on over and I’ll buy you a drink. Me and Tony have some questions about these new Jews. What do you know about them?”
“Well, they’re called Christians now. I hear it started in Antioch. I guess it’s supposed to mean followers of the king, or something like that. They believe that a Jew named Jesus, from some podunk town, is the son of their god. Like all Jews, he taught that there is only one god. However, he was different. They say he wanted everyone to know this one god was loving and kind, not like the precocious gods we know. In fact, love is the main attribute of their god.
“He also welcomed people to this god who were not seen as welcome by the standard Jewish teachings. And, because he was seen by some, as the fulfillment of their Messianic prophesies, he was considered a danger to both nations. So he was killed by both the Jews and the Romans. By Rome, mostly because he was accused of sedition. However, they say he rose from the dead and is alive in the heavens.”
“Ok. But what’s so bad about that? We have freedom of religion in the empire.”
“As I hear it, most of the opposition is coming from among the Jews themselves. It seems his followers, particularly a Jew from Tarsus named Paul, are saying under this new Judaism, people they call Gentiles, people like us, don’t need to be worried about circumcision and all those food rules and the wrath of the gods to be granted entrance into an eternal paradise. Many of the Jews who want to believe in this Jesus guy aren’t buying into that. It seems most of the ones who do are Hellenistic Jews. You know, the ones who found value in both the Jewish and Greek culture.”
“I can see how this can be a danger to us. If we all become Christians all of our temples will be empty. And you know how much we love what goes on at the temple! It will disrupt our family values. Not only that, it will destroy the economy. How will the temple craftsmen stay in business?”
Aeneas said, “This has already happened at Ephesus. The metalworkers almost got him there, but he got away. Now I hear they are bringing him here to Rome to stand trial. On the other hand, the idea of one god who doesn’t want anything from us except love and kindness toward one another can be an attractive proposition”
“So that’s how they earn their eternal life?”
“No. They don’t earn anything. They say it’s a gift they receive when they live like the Jesus guy lived.”
“Not to worry. If they kill this guy, Paul, it will die out quickly.”
“You’re probably right.”
CONCERNS: Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones. Abraham Sirgy’s brother is recovering quickly from a heart attack. Judy Hall is having eye problems. Teryn Gaynor’s mother is receiving cancer treatment. Bill Schreiner is Hospitalized for treatment. He may be home by today. Marjorie Wilson, cancer. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Melanie Gentry, Joni Beach’s parents, as well as her aunt, Pat Voss and a niece, Jamie Cole. Wayne Phlegar has been unable to attend lately. Jim Hunter, David Albert, Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, Sandy Blanchard and those caring for her. Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder. Jenni Cullum is having an eye problem.
OUR DAILY BREAD: MAY 16-21
Monday: Genesis 15:1-22
Wednesday: Mark 5:1-20
Thursday: Hebrews 9:6-14
Friday: I Thessalonians 4:1-12
Saturday: Psalm 130:1-8
OUR DAILY BREAD: MAY 23-28
Monday: Exodus 3:1-15
Tuesday: Matthew 9:14-34
Wednesday: Ecclesiastes 12:1-14
Thursday: II Corinthians 5:11-21
Friday: II Samuel 11:1-27
Saturday: Psalm 121:1-8
Today, May 15, the worship service was arranged by Susan Jordan. Del Bolin will be the speaker and he will tell us about his recent medical trip to Nicaragua.
Today is also Super Sunday. You are invited to a fellowship meal in the annex following the service.
If needed, the steering committee will meet in the library after the meal.
We received a call from a doctor in Memphis who is coming to Roanoke to complete a residency in pediatrics. They will arrive around the first of June.
The contact with us came from David and Stacy Maharrey, who went to college with them. David and Stacy gave them a glowing report about how much they loved Roanoke and the Roanoke church. They presently attend at the White Station congregation, a church which has a similar view of the New Testament as do we.
They have twin toddler girls and are looking for a three bedroom house to rent or buy. It needs to be in a neighborhood about twenty minutes from Carilion Clinic Hospital. They have a local realtor helping them, but if you know of such a place, tell Keith and he will let them know. Also, pray about them coming to Roanoke
Thanks to Wayne Flora for fixing the toilet in the annex men’s room. This must be the time for such repairs. A fixture in the main building’s men’s room had to have a major overhaul about a week ago.
SOME NEEDED WORK
In talking about the need for some work to be done around the building, it should be mentioned that some of it does not need to be a part of a scheduled day. If you want to know what you can do on your own, at a time convenient for you, see Keith. Or in some cases, some of you have seen areas which need tending and have taken it upon yourselves to come on an evening and do it. If you need a key to do some inside work, see Keith. If you need supplies, some are already here and others can be purchased.