Bimonthly Bulletin

In 1961 or 1962, the Bering Drive Church of Christ was formed in Houston, TX. Its first minister, Pat Harrell, was my mentor. He died of cancer at fifty years old, after serving for several years as the Director of the Institute for Christian Studies. Now the Austin Graduate School of Theology. For years after his death I’d received the bulletin, “Bering Today”, with its catchy double-meaning title. I no longer do. However, over the years several ministers have served that church. One of them was Bill Love. Bill also died young from the result of a stroke.
In one of Bill’s bulletins (as I remember) he was talking about his daughter moving to Cincinnati. He was talking to her about churches. She said, “Remember dad, today it’s about relationship.”
I thought about that during these last weeks of freezing cold and snow. We had to cancel on the 15th due to the frigid cold, and then on the 22nd because of a late Saturday snow.
Like many of my age, my memories of church was not about relationship. That is not to say there were no relationships built at church. There were. But the main thrust of church was obedience to God. Attendance was checked, primarily so there would be no backsliding.
As an act of obedience, church attendance was to be endured, like it or not, and I don’t mean that from a child’s point of view. Church was just done. Period. Which is not to say it was bad. It wasn’t, at least most of the time. However, church fights always stand out more than the good things which happen.
What I’m talking about is, if we had to close due to the weather, (which was seldom because it was in the city of Cincinnati) it seemed to be more about either displeasing God, or not caring enough about God. As a child, neither of those things entered my mind, any more than when school was closed.
Neither do those feelings trouble me today. My first and second thoughts when we have to cancel church are not about God’s displeasure, or guilt that I’m slacking off. My first thought is about relationship. I miss being with the people who make up my faith fellowship. I’ve found, as have you, that there is a void in my life when I am not with those who worship together here. There is a sense of emptiness in the week that follows, like something is missing. Is it that God is not around? No. God is everywhere. It is that those I know who bring a special meaning to my life are not there in the same way as they are when we are together.
I am reminded of the title and opening line from one of John Donne’s poems, No man is an island. “No man is an island, Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
Since he was also awarded an honorary degree in Theology, one might assume the line and title was influenced by Paul’s statement in Romans 14:7. “For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.” Of course, Donne was reading that from the King James vernacular, which carries the meaning more toward his point in the poem.
I think Paul and Donne caught the flavor of life. It is lived in its fullest when it is shared with others in a mutual love and respect. Ideally, the Church should be the lighthouse which guides people to such a place.
I’m not playing “My church is better than your church” when I say I’m glad to be part of a church that shines a light of welcome to all people. A church who’s atmosphere is such that when we are not together, something is missing from our lives.
After the announcement that once again we were going to have to cancel the service, some of you emailed me about needing their ‘fix”. There was one who said we should develop skype, so we could all be together. Another talked about the sermon on video. The last one lacks the essential ingredient; being together. As Susan Jordan said a few years ago, “I know God loves me, but I need to feel some flesh.”

CONCERNS: Betty Billings, Keith Wagner’s sister, is in the Raleigh Court Health Care Center. She is in Room 112A She will be there at least three weeks. Roger Fisher got a good report from some tests. Bill Albert’s son, David, is still in very serious condition. Good news. Wayne Flora’s postmaster, Todd Baumgardner, received both a kidney and a pancreas transplant and is doing well. Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas (leukemia), Kim (Hall’s) friend, Mary (MS), Sue Huels, Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson, Rich Crites, Jim Hunter Deana McRoy, Stephanie Ridney, Marge Greenwood, Jenni Cullum, TimElder, Mary Smith and Mrs. Mataro.

Monday: John 10:1-18
Tuesday: Matthew 13:24-33
Wednesday: Psalm 90:1-17
Thursday: Luke 14:15-24
Friday: Amos 5:18-6:1
Saturday: Psalm 71:1-24
Monday: Matthew 7:7-11
Tuesday: Romans 3:21-31
Wednesday: James 2:1-12
Thursday: Mark 2:1-12
Friday: I Peter 1:3-12
Saturday: Psalm 105:1-45

Just a reminder since we have had to cancel services two weeks in a row due to the weather, if you are part of this Sunday morning study, read Matthew, and be prepared to discuss why Matthew uses the “Kingdom of Heaven” so many times, rather than the “Kingdom of God”. Coffee time is at 9:15 and the class starts at 9:30.
Melisha Scruggs is now with Richfield Wellness & Rehab in Salem. She will also be moving closer to her work there soon.
The weather has delayed the taking of new pictures for the directory. Neither has Erma been able to fact-check all the information to be sure we have it right. Hopefully she will be in touch with some more of you on Sunday. In the mean time, if a birthday or anniversary is missed in the bulletin please call attention to it.
Since we’ve been talking about how the weather has upset things, add the work to restructure the return air vent in the adult classroom. The heating and air conditioning folks have also been very busy helping people who lost their heat during this cold spell. So because their needs are more important than something we’ve put up with for maybe fifty years, work will start as soon as possible.
Our involvement with the Ronald McDonald House continues and several “new” folks from here have recently gone and helped prepare the Sunday evening meal, as well as interacting with the parents of the children who are in the hospital. Each person who goes who has not been there before should take a tour. It will make you feel good that such a modern and well equipped place is available to parents during a time when a child may just be hanging to life in the neonatal unit. Thanks for all of you who have helped and had the experience of what the Ronald McDonald House is all about. And if you haven’t gone, do so.

In a recently discovered document found in an ancient Greek church, there is a record of a council meeting among early church leaders concerning wrinkles in doctrine.
It appears to have taken place after the death of Paul and most, if not all, of the original twelve apostles. The date may have been near the end of the first century. The issue is the authentic message of Christianity. In a word: What was the gospel?
The first issue (at least in what was left of the original document) appears to be the introduction of Luke and Acts. A man named Festus is recorded as saying: “Does anyone know anything about this fellow named, “Luke”? He also recorded the writings called The Acts of The Apostles. Reading it makes one think he was influenced by both Peter and Paul. The problem is, he never once, in either writing, has Jesus or any preacher say Jesus died for our sins.”
Someone named Justus asked, “What about the place where Luke recorded the last supper? It says Jesus said about the Passover bread, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ And again with the cup; ‘This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’ What do you do with that?”
“Jesus said the bread was his body, given for them. If he meant for their sins, why not say so? And the cup was to bind a new covenant. Nothing was said about his blood and sin. The covenant was like any other covenant ratified with a blood offering.
“When God made covenant with Abraham, the blood sacrifice had nothing to do with Abraham’s sin or lack there of. It was God’s promise to bless him and his decedents. Even the offering of Isaac was not about sin.
“The Passover lamb was not a sacrifice for Israel’s sins. It was the final sign of deliverance from Egypt.
“Even the blood sprinkled on the people by Moses to ratify the covenant at Sinai had nothing to do with their sin. It was about their promise to keep the law of God. So why are we to believe Jesus was talking about sin, but didn’t say it? ”
Justus interjected, “What about Matthew? He says Jesus said it was for the forgiveness of sins.”
“That’s right. But what about those who haven’t read Matthew? How many people died without connecting Jesus death to their sins? So, what about the Acts of the Apostles?”
“It covers about thirty years, and not once does it mention Jesus’ death as a sacrifice for sin. Twice he says that through Jesus forgiveness of sins comes, but nothing about through his blood.
“Even when Paul was in Athens, his sermon on Mars Hill said nothing about Jesus death and sin. He said Jesus was the one God had sent as judge of the world, and the proof of that was that God raised him from the dead.”
A third fellow named Petros asked, “What about Peter’s sermon to that Gentile named Cornelius? He never mentions death on the cross as a sacrifice for sin. He tells Cornelius that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and appointed him to judge the living and the dead. He never says his death on the cross was a sacrifice for sin, even though he does say belief in Jesus brings forgiveness of sin, but does not say it was because of Jesus being a sacrifice.
“Then there’s the issue of God honoring Cornelius’ prayers and gifts to the poor. Does God honor anyone’s righteous prayers and gifts to the poor, or just Cornelius? If it’s just Cornelius, doesn’t that make God a respecter of persons, as Peter said he realized God was not, but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right? And when he talks about the forgiveness of sins, he says the prophets said it would be through his name, not his blood.”
“What about the letters of Paul?’ , said Justus. “He mentions that Jesus’ death was a ransom from death. He also says salvation comes through Jesus. In some letters he does speak of the sacrificial blood of Jesus. And most of the churches that are growing are those beyond the boarders of Judaism. Even we are Gentile converts. So it might be safely said that Paul’s teaching is accepted as authoritative for the church.”
“True, “said Petros. “I’m not worried about the teaching of atonement. My concern is being sure when we can get all these writings together, that the atoning act of Jesus does not become the definition of all Jesus was and did.
“The writings of Mark, Luke, Matthew and John tell the story of Jesus, and none of them center the story on Jesus’ as a sacrifice for sin.
“As I see it, They saw his death as the way God would fulfill the promise of the kingdom of God on earth, just as all the prophets had predicted. Of course, the prophets, and just about everyone else who spoke from the Spirit of God, said the Messiah would redeem Israel. They envisioned a society where the Messiah would bring about Justice and the end of oppression for the poor and all people. Even Jesus, in his first sermon, said he was the one Isaiah was talking about when he wrote, ‘The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind and to release the oppressed.’ That was his purpose for coming.”
“But it didn’t happen”, said Festus.
“Yes it did,” said Petros. “He gave his life to bring about the kingdom of God, here on earth, as it is in Heaven. And if we look at the church we can see how it is to be done. It is a community where no one goes hungry or without clothing, and all are seen as equals. That’s the good news. And as I see it, we have to be sure, as the years pass, that Christians not forget Jesus’ purpose and end up throwing him out with the baptismal water.”

CONCERNS: Bill Albert’s son, David, is near death due to kidney and liver failure. He lives in New Jersey. Bill is dealing with a detached retina. Remember those who have lost loved ones recently. T. J. Hall is dealing with some heart issues. Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas has leukemia. Teryn Gaynor’s sister’s tests came out well. Betty Foy’s sister, Sue Huels, Kim Hall’s friend, Mary has MS. Remember also Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson, Rich Crites, Jim Hunter’s toe is getting much better. Deana McRoy, Stephanie Ridney, Marge Greenwood, Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Mary Smith, Mrs. Mataro, and Todd Baumgardner.

Monday: Acts 17:16-34
Tuesday: Colossians 3:1-17
Wednesday: John 11:17-44
Thursday: Romans 4:1-8;5:1-11
Friday: I Thess. 5:12-28
Saturday: Psalm 118:1-29
Monday: Psalm 46
Tuesday: John 14:1-11
Wednesday: Psalm 23
Thursday: Isaiah 26:1-4
Friday: Matthew 5:1-16
Saturday: I John 2:7-11, 15-17

Erma has the list and she’s checking it twice. She will be asking small groups of us to meet with her to verify the directory information you placed on the cards. Things like addresses, phone numbers and email can change in a matter of days. So we want to be sure we have the very latest information as we start the directory.
You will soon be asked to have your picture taken. The outdoors has been used, but due to the weather an alternate place is being sought. Have any ideas? See Erma.
This Sunday, Feb. 15, is Super Sunday. At this moment, it looks to be the coldest Sunday of the year. So you can be sure a nice roaring fire will be built in the fireplace, as well as good warm food on the table. Plan to stay and enjoy a warm place with warmhearted folks.
For a number of years we have been talking about having someone justify and verify our accounting system. Susan Jordan has been doing that, and has agreed to continue to do so. Thanks Susan.
As soon as we can be worked into the schedule, our heating and cooling and maintenance folks will start the improvement of the air flow in the large basement classroom. As it is, the noise from the air flow vent makes it very hard to hear during a class. It will be enclosed and vented into the hallway. This will not only stop the noise, but do a much better job circulating the air.
It is nice to see an increased number of folks attending Sunday School and getting involved in reading the New Testament as if it were written like a book. The discussions have been both interesting and beneficial.
Remember, 9:15 is a coffee/tea time. The class will start at 9:30.
If you enjoy inspirational movies, you might enjoy “McFarland USA”. It’s the true story of coach Jim White. Jim and his family are members of the Church of Christ.

In an amazing and unusual discovery, a small segment from the gospel of Luke was found stuffed in the face mask of a dead third century Pharaoh. It seems material for mummification is hard to come by, so any piece of parchment will do. In this case, it was a lost part of the gospel of Luke. Luckily, with my secret informant in Cairo, Abdul Bar Nero, I have been allowed to share it with my readers. It follows Jesus’ story of the Samaritan Jesus used as an example of someone who lived out the commandment to love one’s neighbor as oneself, as found in Luke 10. It is as follows.
As Jesus and his disciples made their way to Bethany, a discussion arose among them concerning the Samaritan. They were afraid to speak to Jesus about the matter, because Jesus had seemed so clear about his reason to tell the story. James was the first to speak. “I don’t know about you brothers, but I’m having trouble with that Samaritan story the Master told back there.”
“Tell me about it brother!” said John. “We just got tossed out of one of their villages, which is the highest social insult, and he says their kind can have eternal life! He wasn’t born yesterday! He knows they are heretics who are not part of the people of God. That was settled centuries ago!”
Peter said, “Look, maybe it was just one of those shock stories he uses to put somebody in their place. You know how those experts in the law are. You know he was just trying to make Jesus look bad. Don’t take it seriously. Once a Samaritan always a Samaritan.”
Matthew said, “Well, if I ever decide to tell about our adventure with the Master, I’m not going to tell about that guy! If we’re going to have any credibility as followers of the Messiah, we can’t be aligned with Samaritans! It would make Ezra and Nehemiah turn over in their graves! They wouldn’t even let the returning exiles keep the wives they married in Persia.”
“Forget all that,” said Judas. “What are we supposed to do if Jesus meant what he said? You let the camel stick his head in the tent and the next thing you know, you’ve got the whole camel! Do you know what this will do to the purity of Judaism? Okey, so you treat a Samaritan the way you’d want him to treat you. Then what if he invites you over for dinner? It’s one thing to treat them right, but it’s another to socialize with them. You’ve seen the signs on the hostels that say ‘Jews only’. And those Samaritan women! Would you want your son to marry one?”
Andrew said, “I know what you mean. The rabbi’s say the devil lives in Samaritan women.”
Peter said, “Quiet down! Jesus is starting to wonder why we are lagging behind. Let’s get something straight. Jesus just said we had to treat them right. He didn’t say anything about eating with them. He didn’t say we had to worship with them. All he said was if we found one beaten up, we should help. That’s all. You have to be careful not to see more in what the Master said than he actually said. When Jesus says something, don’t add to it. All we have to do is treat Samaritans right. We do not have to believe they are the same as us. You just let them know there is a line that can’t be crossed.”
Andrew said, “But what if Jesus means this is how it will be in the coming kingdom? What if he meant everybody? You know, Gentiles?”
“That will never happen,” said Peter. “And if that’s what Jesus meant, it will take centuries. You can’t make changes quickly.
Bartholomew was listening to the rest of them and finally spoke. “But what about the lawyer’s question? He asked what he could do to have eternal life. The Master said the Samaritan did what it takes to have eternal life. That was the question. Remember? It seems to me the Master is basing relationship with God on how we relate to others, not rules and teachings. I think he said the Samaritan did what it takes to have eternal life.”
James said, “Bart, you’ve been eating too many fermented grapes…”
The text broke off at that point.

CONCERNS: Teryn Thompson as asked prayers for her sister as she has tests. Judy Hall hurt her back, and T. J.’s heart has been monitored. Remember those who have had to deal with recent losses. Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, (leukemia) Kim Hall’s friend, Mary (MS) Betty Foy’s sister, Sue Huels, Sandra Anderson and Gil Richardson. Jim Hunter is making some progress. Rich Crites, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood. Remember also Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Mary Smith, and Mrs Mataro, and Wayne Flora’s postmaster, Todd Baumgardner, who is awaiting a kidney transplant.

Monday: Joshua 4:14-18
Tuesday: Acts 9:1-9
Wednesday: James 5:1-18
Thursday: I John 5-2:6
Friday: Hebrews 12:1-14
Saturday: Psalm 38:1-18

Monday: Job 38:1-18
Tuesday: Isaiah 25:1-5
Wednesday: Psalm 37:1-17
Thursday: Luke 18:35-19:10
Friday: John 18:1-14
Saturday: Hebrews 13:1-21

The new directory is being formulated. If you have not turned in an information card, the information about you will be taken from the old copy.
Pictures for the new one will be scheduled soon.
We’ve learned that Nathan Beach got married. He and his new bride live in Spain. Joni was able to fly over for the wedding. We wish them the very best.
Dear Roanoke Family
Where do I begin? First, thank you for the spectacular floral arrangement you sent to Oakey’s. Mom would have loved it! Flowers were such an integral part of her life; such a lovely arrangement was truly a fitting tribute.
Thanks also to everyone who provided all the delicious food after the funeral. We were reminded of your love for us with every bite.
Finally, words cannot express the depth of my gratitude for the ongoing love and support you have shown me and my family throughout our journey with mom, most especially during these last difficult months. Your prayers buoyed us, your words encouraged us, your offers of help warmed our hearts and your hugs reminded us we were not alone. We remain forever grateful.
Love you all, Leena and family
For years the adult classroom has been plagued with noise from a recirculating air vent in the back wall. No one is sure why it was placed there. In the coming weeks it will be vented along the wall and out into the hallway. This will take away the noise as well as provide better and more efficient air circulation.
We are in the third week of the adult class where we are reading the New Testament as if it were written in book form, with Luke and Acts being read first. If you want to take part and need a book see Mike Branch or Susan Jordan.

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