Roanoke Church of Christ

Bimonthly Bulletin


by my friend, Ben
It were still right dark when me’n ol’ Blue got to the gate at Hickory Ridge Cemetery. It were. It would be nye on to an hour before I’d see the dim light of the risin’ sun off to the East. It would.
When the headlights on my truck shined on them big iron gates they was already open. I reckon Elwood Gibbs’d done been here an’ gone. Elwood were the caretaker an’ it were his job to be sure the gates was open, specially on Easter mornin’. It were.
I reckon you could call Elwood a kinda hermit. He were a miner til he got a little crippled-up in a mine cave-in. He did. It weren’t bad enough to keep him outta the mines, but he never went back. He didn’t. He told me one day when I were visitin’ ma an’ pa’s graves, that when he saw them rocks comin’ at him he told God iffen he lived he’d never go back in the mines. He did.
Folks what knowed him all his life say it changed him. He started stayin’ off to himself. He did. So when the job takin’ care of the town cemetery opened up, he took it. He did.
He lived in a little house on the backside of the cemetery what went with the job. Since he stayed to his self, an’ didn’t talk much, the kids here an’ about thought he were kinda spooky. They did. Folks in town said they sometimes saw his flashlight goin’ in an’ out of the graves late at night. They did. They reckoned Elwood were lookin’ for trespassers. Some folks said he mighta been talkin’ to the dead. They did. As for me’n ol’ Blue, we got along fine with Elwood. We did. Fact is, since he knowed I’d had key to the gate for years, iffen he’d see me’n ol’ Blue at ma an’ pa’s graves he’d come by to pet Blue an’ sit a spell. He would.
It’d been a right mild winter, an’ this Easter mornin’ were as warm as any I could remember. It were. So when I parked my truck I dropped the tailgate an’ sat there lookin’ out over Hickory Ridge. I did. I reckon there couldn’t be a better place in the whole world to live. Hickory Ridge were all I could want. It were.
As I sat in the darkness, a gentle breeze come along an’ made me think of spirits. It did. I don’t mean them ghost-type spirits. I mean the ones what remind us of folks we love. Kinda like they’d kissed us.
It made me think of Ma, an’ I reached into my truck an’ got my guitar. I did. I nearly always brought it with me when I come up here. I do.
Thinkin’ of Ma made me think of them Easter mornin’s when she were up before dawn, fixin’ a special Easter breakfast for me’n Pa. It did.
There were this one time I woke up an’ found her sittin’ on the porch in her rocker, holdin’ her favorite cup of coffee. She were. She smiled an’ held out her hand an’ took mine. She did. She said, “Benny, can you imagine what it were like for the Lord to have woke up on Easter mornin’? Do you reckon he were scared, bein’ all wrapped up in them cloths what they’d buried him in? I wonder what it were like, it bein’ dark an’ all, an’ him not knowin’ where he were.
“I reckon by the time he got his self unwrapped, the stone were already rolled away from the openin’ to the tomb. An’ I reckon as he sat up he said, ‘Thank you Father! Thank you!’ That’s what I woulda said. I would.
“I wonder where he went after he was able to walk? The Bible say’s the tomb were empty when them women got there to finish his burial. Do you reckon he walked around that there garden, an’ maybe found a place to sit an’ pray? I reckon he needed to know what to do next, bein’ alive again an’ all.
“Do you think he saw them folks what come to the tomb, but decided not to let ‘em see him right then? I wonder iffen when he saw Mary cryin’ that he just couldn’t stay away? An’ I wonder what it were like for her when she heard him say her name?”
I told Ma I reckoned some day she could ask him herself. I did. She smiled an’ rocked back an forth lookin’ at the sun what were just startin’ to come up. She did. Iffen I’da knowed she were gonna get sick the next year, I reckon I wouldn’t a said what I did. She never saw another Easter Mornin’. She didn’t.
Down in Hickory Ridge I could see some folks stirrin’ about an’ I knowed they’d be headin’ up this way for the Easter sunrise service perty soon. I did. So I strummed on my ol’ guitar an sang one a Ma’s favorite songs.
“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; and the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”
Ol’ Blue come back from whatever he were doin’ an’ jumped up in the truck beside me. He did. He got real close to me like he did when he wanted some attention. He did. As I rubbed his chest I wondered how many times Ma had imagined walkin’ in that garden alone with the Lord? I did. I don’t know nothin’ much about what happens after you die, but I can see Ma openin’ her eyes an’ sayin’, “Thank you Father. Thank you.” An I reckoned maybe the next thing she would see is the one Mary saw in that other garden all them years ago. I did.
The mornin’ sun would soon be breakin’ over the hills an’ I knowed it would move across ma an’ pa’s graves. It would. Ma’d picked them grave spots cause she said when the time come she wanted her an’ Pa to be lookin’ toward the farm an’ the risin’ sun. She did.
As I stood by Ma an’ Pa’s graves I said, “Happy Easter Ma an’ Pa. I reckon when the time comes I’ll open my eyes an’ I’ll see your smile an’ your eyes all sparkly -like, the way they were on the porch that Easter mornin’ years ago. I will.

CONCERNS: Mike Branch while he is in the Sudan. Steve Gaynor’s sister, Betty, is still unresponsive after falling as the result of a stroke several weeks ago. Judy (Shivers) Edwards is slowly recovering from the result of a brain aneurism, as is her sister, Ann, due to a broken leg. Keep Del Bolin’s mother in your prayers. Jim White’s mother came trough heart surgery and is recovering. Sheila Jansen and Daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Tolly Nicklas, Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

Monday: John 8:21-47
Tuesday: Luke 22:14-30
Wednesday: Luke 12:13-34
Thursday: Psalm 51:1-19
Friday: Acts 4:2-5:11
Saturday: Psalm 99:1-9; 100:1-5
Monday: John 17:1-26
Tuesday: Revelation 19:1-16
Wednesday: Luke 16:19-31
Thursday: Matthew 9:1-13
Friday: I Corinthians 10:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 106:1-48

Today is Easter Sunday. It is also the third Sunday, which means we have an alternative service. Today’s service has been arranged by Wayne Flora. Our thanks to Wayne for his willingness to serve in this way.
Today is also Super Sunday. We will be eating together in the annex after the service. If you are visiting with us, please consider yourself our guest for the meal.
Since it is Easter Sunday, and some folks are gone or have family visitors, the steering committee will only meet if necessary. However, copies of the latest financial statement are on the library table.
Due to the age of the toilet in the women’s restroom in the main building, it was unable to be repaired. A new one has been installed, as well as in the women’s restroom in the annex.
Total Action for Progress, a local service, as sent us several pieces of information concerning programs they offer related to domestic violence.
You can find pamphlets on the foyer table and more information on the downstairs bulletin board. On the downstairs information there are tear-offs with needed telephone numbers. If you know someone who could benefit from this service, please take notice.
James Downing , who developed our website, has sent the results from March. For a small congregation, the results are good. 377 visited the site. 126 used Google Maps to find us. 16 asked for directions, and 1 called the church.
The banquet for our graduates will be held on Super Sunday evening, May 21st in the annex. The time will be 6:00.


If you look up the statement, “God created us in his image, and then we returned the favor”, you will find it is attributed to more people who claimed to have said it than those who claimed George Washington slept here. The best guess may be Voltaire. Regardless, it’s a pretty true description of how we view and relate to God.
Have we created God in our own image? Yes. And in saying that I do not mean there is no God beyond our own creation. What Voltaire and the others mean is we have taken the concept of God and shaped it into something which looks and thinks like us.
Historically this “shaping” has taken on the form of something powerful which can be seen, usually an animal. The golden calf of Egypt is an example. We still say, “Strong as an ox. Wise as an owl. Swift as a dear. Sly as a fox.” Even Jesus referred to Herod as a fox.
On a higher level, since God is invisible, (spirit) we tend to transfer our creative ability to Jesus. For those of European descent, Jesus becomes the famous Warner Sallman painting of Jesus with flowing golden hair. The Asians have him looking Asian. Rarely do you see an African Jesus, but there are some and the list is growing.
While each group understands the other, each one is a little (or a lot) put off by any representation but their own. So we create Jesus in our own image. There are those who see Jesus as the great warrior on a white horse, as depicted in John’s revelation. Clint Eastwood knew about that concept and incorporated it in several of his Western movies. However, perhaps one of his best was in Gran Torino. While not portraying a Jesus-like person, the main character gives his life to save a young man.
It goes without saying, even though I’m saying it, that the image (character) of Jesus in most Christian circles is that of a middle class man who minds his own business and stays out of any public controversy. A good example of this is the reaction toward those ministers who joined the freedom marches in the South as it struggled to throw off the chains of segregation. I can still remember the criticism toward those ministers who marched. They were told to go back home and preach the gospel. Even worse were those who protested the Viet Num War. Am I saying Jesus would have marched with Martin Luther King Jr.? If I say yes, it seems I’m making Jesus as I want him to be. If I say no, it seems I’m making him like most of us who preach. I can’t think of anything he did like that except the clearing out of the sellers in the temple. On the other hand, I believe he was cut from the cloth of the prophets, since the prophets also declared the will of God. So if I look at the prophets, I see very visible, public challengers to anything which allowed the powerful to deny justice and mercy to those who had no power.
If I look at Jesus I see someone who publically exposed the hypocrisy of the religious leaders who were also the local politicians. I see him cause public controversy when he violates the traditional view of the Sabbath. I see him expose himself so much to controversy that he is executed as an insurrectionist.
So how am I to see him as he is? I will try to see him in action and see what he speaks out against. I will listen to what he says is the will of God. I can find God’s will in what he said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, as well as the sermon in Luke and in his other teachings. I can also see God through Jesus. In John 14:9, in response to Philip’s asking Jesus to show them (God) the Father, Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” So in the character and nature of Jesus I can see the character and nature of God.
Jesus also so told Philip, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (V. 10)
Voltair and all the others are right when they say we create God in our own image. It’s next to impossible not to, with all the influence and teaching that goes on around us. We see far more Pharisees than we do those who look like Jesus. In using the Pharisees, I mean those who see keeping the rules and tradition as the most important thing. The ruler of the synagogue was right when he said there were six other days on which healing could be done, rather than practicing medicine (healing) on the Sabbath. (Lk. 13:14 ) The woman had been bent over for eighteen years, one more day wouldn’t have made a difference. Why push the rule? Good question. The answer tells us a lot about Jesus and God.

CONCERNS: Steve Gaynor’s sister, Betty, has had a stroke. When it happened she fell and hit her head. It has been over a week and she is still in a coma. She lives in Delaware. Judy (Shivers) Edwards is recovering mobility from a stroke. Her vision is also slowly returning. Her sister, Ann, is recovering from a broken leg. Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones, had a heart attack last week. She is at home, but the outlook is not good. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Tolly Nicklas, Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

Monday: Matthew 18:10-20
Tuesday: Romans 14:1-18
Wednesday: II Thess. 3:1-16
Thursday: Genesis 45:4-28
Friday: Mark 10:17-31
Saturday: Psalm 105:1-45

Monday: Ephesians 1:1-14
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

April Birthdays 23-Maggie foy 25-Del Bolin

Thanks to Lyn Jordan for trimming the shrubs in front on the annex. He also took some of the wood from behind the annex as well. Since the winter was so mild, we had an excess of wood which we had not yet split. It was going to rot if not used.
The spring banquet for graduates is fast approaching. If you haven’t let Erma know if you have a child, or you are graduating from high school, college, or a vocational/training institution, do so now.
Judy McWhorter has been taking communion to Jan and Gary Overstreet. If you can help by doing in one Sunday a month, let her know.
Congratulations to Jack Thompson and Nick Bolin. Jack has been accepted at VT and is also looking at the Naval Academy. Nick has been accepted into the VT Graduate program.

If you see red water in the toilet bowls, it’s not a plague. We have had problems with a water leak that has been hard to find. It seems to have been in the main building downstairs women’s restroom. It has been checked and repaired, but we want to be sure. So if you red water, don’t panic.

We have had visitors from here in town as well as from Georgia. One of them wrote on the back of the visitors card how much they appreciated this lovely church family and looked forward to visiting with us in the future.
We also had a returning local woman who has moved here and said the reason she came back was that she received a follow-up call from her last visit from Connie Crites. These kindnesses do make a difference.


(Since many of our bulletin readers are former members of the Roanoke church, this issue is dedicated to the memory of Roger Fisher, who died March 2.)
Union West Virginia is a little over a hundred miles west of Roanoke at the convergence of WVa . Route 3 and US 119. It’s one of those small towns where everyone knows everyone else. It sits on a slight hill in the rolling hill country of the mountain state, in an area full of salt springs and other long closed health resorts.
From Roanoke, at the intersection of Rt.3 and 119, turning right and then right again, is Green Hill Road. It ends at the top of the hill at the Green Hill Cemetery. Most of it overlooks Union. The graves are a collection of history, with many of them dating back before the Civil War. Just over the top of the hill, we laid Roger to rest. The following is a condensed version of Roger’s eulogy.
Roger was a quiet man who never knew how great he was. He was the youngest of eleven children. Life wasn’t easy. He told me he could remember working in the field and garden when he was younger than five. Work was in his blood, and he never stopped
In time, he met a girl named Ruth Fox, from Hinton, Wva. They married and gave their lives to Christ. She was a nurse and suffered from the effects of polio. He became a barber and in 1977 they moved to Roanoke. They were an active part of the Roanoke Church of Christ.
They raised two sons, Steve and Shawn, in the Rainbow Forest area east of town. Even with Ruth’s health problems, their home was always open to the boy’s friends. Each year before church camp they hosted a picnic for the young people.
In the sixties and seventies, when men began to let their hair grow longer and started getting curly perms (something I’ll never understand) the barber business suffered. Roger went to work as an over-the -road truck driver for United Parcel and stayed until he retired. It was in retirement that he started barbering again.
His favorite route was from Roanoke to South Charleston, WVa., across the West Virginia Turnpike, especially in the fall. He would tell me how peaceful it was to look out and see all the fall colors on the mountains.
Their son, Shawn, moved to Erie, Pa., married, and made his home there. Steve stayed in Roanoke, married Carol and together they gave Roger and Ruth two grandsons, Mitch and Rem. They were the delight of their lives.
Roger would never believe what a tower of strength he was. I remember sitting in a hospital room with him when Ruth, who was to go home the next day, suddenly died. He sat by her bed, took her hand, and with words I can’t remember, told her goodbye.
The days and months which followed were hard. We all worried about him. But he kept busy. Work was his therapy. He never missed church, but the light had gone out of his eyes.
Then we saw the light come back. He’d met a widow named Zona, and he saw in her someone with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life. She saw in him what we saw, a truly good and kind man. A man who loved God and let that love flow out to everyone he met. Together they built a lovely home in a newer area of Rainbow Forest, within walking distance of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Many of us have enjoyed being in their home and eating Zona’s wonderful cooking. I remember one of those times when a veritable feast was spread before us. For desert I spied a large coconut covered cake. It was great, and I told her so. She laughed and said she’d run out of time and bought it at Sam’s
Roger loved to fish, and he was good at it, except when he took me. We never caught anything when I was along, though I think he caught a little brim. I think the fish knew, as a preacher, that I would extend mercy, and stayed away.
Actually, just getting out on Smith Mountain Lake was good for him, as it was for me. We’d talk and eat peanut butter and crackers, and on the way back to the dock we’d go fast. So fast that the wind went between my glasses and made my eyes flutter so much I could hardly see.
Roger never missed church unless he was sick or out if town. Children loved him. He gave our grandson, Aidan, his first haircut. And even though they now live in Florida, he would try to hold off getting a haircut until they came to visit so Roger could do it.
I’m sure you can’t find anyone who knew Roger who didn’t like him. I never heard him talk down about anyone
As I said before, he wouldn’t believe the strength others saw in him. I could almost think of Job. Not only did he lose Ruth, but in more recent years, he would lose both of his sons. I don’t know how he dealt with it. Part of it was how he dealt with life, he just kept working and giving himself to others and trusting God.
About two weeks before he died, he’d had a spell of being confused and ended up in the Emergency Room. While there, he had a heart attack and was rushed into surgery where they put three stents in his arteries. He did fine and was anxious to get home.
The day before he died, he came in the office and told me he wasn’t sure he could stop working part time as a barber. He said he planned to keep going to the Rescue Mission once a week to give free haircuts. At one point he said, “Keith, when I was in the hospital, I had a feeling of peace, and I told Zona and Carol that I was ready to go. They didn’t like it much, but right now, I feel the same way, I’m ready.”
In the days before he died he’d asked Zona to get a copy of Vince Gil’s “Go Rest High on the Mountain.” She said he played it over and over. His service ended with the playing of that song. He is now resting with Ruth, high on the mountain, back home in West Virginia.

CONCERNS: Judy (Shivers) Edwards is dealing with several issues as the result of a brain aneurism. Her sister, Ann, is in therapy recovering from a badly broken leg. Del Bolin’s mother has been having some health issues. Joanne Elder now has a new job. Remember Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones, also Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Tolly Nicklas, Ray & Darnel Barnes, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

Monday: John 1:1-18
Tuesday: Luke 18:1-4
Wednesday: II Corinthians 1:3-11
Thursday: I Corinthians 5:1-8
II Corinthians 1:23-2:11
Friday: Job 1:13-2:10
Saturday: Psalm 97:1-12

Monday: I Timothy 6:11-21
Tuesday: Psalm 119:89-112
Wednesday: Mark 2:15-3:6
Thursday: Acts 8:4-24
Friday: Luke 22:39-53
Saturday: I Corinthians 15:42-48

For our special third Sunday service, we have Doug Bolin, Del’s brother as our speaker. He will be speaking on Modern Parables. Doug and his wife live in PA.
Today is also Super Sunday. Plan to stay after the service for the fellowship meal.
Congratulations to Judy McWhorter upon winning first place in her Quilt Guild Challenge. The theme was “Pieces of Our Lives” and Judy’s was “A Window into My life.”
Judy McWhorter is taking communion to Jan and Gary Overstreet. She is asking if there are those who will help. If enough folks will help, it would only be one Sunday a month or less. See Judy or Keith if
you will help out.
Remember, we will be honoring our graduates at a spring banquet. If you or your child will be graduating from high school, college, or a vocational/training institution, please let Erma Williams know. She may have a list by now but we don’t want to overlook anyone.
The Gideons received $445.00 in their appeal for funds from us to buy Bibles.
We now have a new copier in the library. The steering committee has approved leasing it for five years, with a renewable contract. This means all repairs and toner is covered for the length of the lease.
Due to the completion of a second apartment building, Chester Larry Foy has a new address. It is 1010 Pines Circle, SW, Apartment 421, Roanoke, VA. 24018. Everything else stays the same.


When I use the word “religion”, I’m not just talking about Christianity, but all forms of belief in a supernatural, controlling power. There are many such beliefs. More than I have room to discuss here. However, they range from terror and fear to love, peace and tranquility. In general, as practiced, Christianity is infected with all of that, of which some of it good and some not.
For example, in a recent news article, the Word of Faith Fellowship Church in North Carolina was accused of both sexual and physical abuse (including children) by some former members. Of course, you can read a denial of those charges on the church website. If they are true or not will be left up to the court.
Word of Faith Fellowship is a mega- church. Their website shows lots of happy men, women and children. So why would we assume the church is guilty as charged? Because it follows a pattern of the distortion of the teaching of Jesus by many churches.
In this case, as in so many others, the doctrine centers on sin, the devil and demons. There seems to be a fascination with casting out demons and the devil by almost medieval means. If the news report is true, that part of North Carolina is a haven for demons.
I don’t know if the charges against WFF are true, but there is a substantial number of accusers who say they are. One young former member who was interviewed told of going off to college and when she returned home during a break, her father opened the door, looked at her and slammed it in her face. She talked about how she was alone and without a family. No doubt the rejection of her was falsely based on a passage in 11 John. She said she is still a believer, just not their kind. I have also seen this same passage used the same way by other churches, including the Church of Christ.
It involves the fear of God. No one wants to have God’s wrath upon them, even though no one is sure what that might be. However, once a person with assumed power convinces others that they know God’s mind, anything can happen to the weak minded. I read of one woman that gave all her money to a church because she was told it was God’s will. Who wants to go against God’s will? Another woman said her husband chained her in the basement for three months to cause the devil to leave her.
This always happens when the individual turns control of their thinking to others. Remember when some preachers were saying the Harry Potter books taught witchcraft and should not be read? You may even remember the couple in Lynchburg who started the story that the Procter and Gamble symbol of the moon was a satanic symbol and it cost P&G financial losses. You may also remember P&G sued that couple big time. (Have any of you played a record backwards lately?)
It’s sad, but there is an abundance of evidence that there are many Christian churches where fear and trembling is the foundation of their teaching.
As I read the stories of people who have given up on Christianity, I find a familiar pattern. All of them center around how the Bible is to be used and understood. “If you don’t believe part of it, you can’t believe any of it.” Which is a way of squashing any questions about the Bible which challenge the “accepted” understanding. In fact, many people spoke about the atmosphere in churches where questions about the Bible were considered to be dangerous. Doubt was something that meant you were in the clutches of Satan. Questions about the things done in the name of God in the Old Testament were answered with “God can do whatever God wants. God is the same yesterday and today and forever.”All of that is theoretically true. How could you argue with that? Of course, you can, and should.
Humankind always understands the meaning of God according to their historical environment. For example, several places in Matthew 5, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said…” He then quotes an accepted teaching from the past. But he then says, “But I tell you…” Did he say those “old” teachings were wrong and sinful? No. They were in some ways part of the law of Moses. But that view of God is gone.
The greatest danger in religion is when people are told they shouldn’t trust themselves, but trust someone else to tell them what God expects from them. What if they just got a Bible and read the sermon on the Mount?

CONCERNS: Judy (Shivers) Edwards is recovering from a brain aneurism. Her sister, Ann is recovering from a badly broken leg. Roger Fisher spent a few days in the hospital, but is out and doing well. Wanda Musgrove is in Lewis-Gale, room 300. Del Bolin’s mother is having some health issues. Joanne Elder and Martha Foy, as they job hunt. Jim White’s mother, Corol Jones, Sheila Jansen and her Daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Tolly Nicklas, Ray & Darnel Barns, and Gil Richardson. Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

Monday: Genesis 12:1-20
Tuesday: I Samuel 3:1-18
Wednesday: Philippians 2:1-11
Thursday: I John 4:7-21
Friday: Romans 7:13-8:11
Saturday: Ephesians: 3:7-21
Monday: Jeremiah 31:23-34
Tuesday: I Corinthians 11:17-34
Wednesday: Acts 6:1-7
Thursday: Matthew 5:21-48
Friday: Psalm 119:129-152
Saturday: Psalm 67:1-7

About this time each year a representative from Gideons International comes to tell us about their work in distributing Bibles.
Today we have with us, John Myers. John will speak before the scripture reading and sermon. Anyone who would like to contribute may do so in the foyer as you leave.

If you will be graduating from a high school, college, vocational/training institution, please let Erma Williams know. Plans are being made for our annual spring graduation banquet.

Remember to set your clocks ahead an hour on Saturday night. It is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time.

Almost new. Susan and Wayne Phlegar became grandparents to Briar Rose Grace Phlegar, who was born in Greenville, SC on January 19.

Vivian Dugan will be away for the next three weeks. She will be visiting with her daughter and son-in law over on the coast.

If you enjoy and appreciate the use of the monitors which show the songs, scriptures and other bits of information on Sunday, stop by and thank Erma Williams. She does a great job getting it ready and Garrett helps on Sundays It has expanded our singing, scripture reading and information. Remember our song leaders, as well as others who serve.


It’s a partial quote from Paul in I Cor. 13 where he talks about rather than thinking like a child, he matures in his thinking. He doesn’t say what thoughts he had as a child he set aside as an adult. I would like to think, because of the context, that he was talking about his understanding of many things about God.
I would love to be able to hear him discuss all the “childish” things he once believed that he no longer did. Can we imagine an apostle saying he had some infantile religious ideas which he was now required by his intellectual growth, to discard? My head swells with the thought of it!
After all, it was his illustration. He must have had something in mind when he said it. Was it something a rabbi said that he came to realize was wrong? Was it the prayer Jewish boys prayed that said. “Thank God I was not born a Gentile or a woman?” Was it that Gentiles should not be called, “dogs”? How much of it was attached to religious prejudicial teaching? For him to use it in the context in which he did, it would seem to me he had the incomplete (childish) ideas about God on his mind.
Did Peter have the same experience when he went to see Cornelius? The (scriptural) teaching about unclean things and people was well known. But when Peter saw Cornelius he said,”God has shown me that I should not call any impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:28)
When did God decide that? Was there a meeting called among the leaders of Israel to amend that law? What an amazing step into maturity Peter took!
Paul was a well trained in Jewish law. He and others like him studied the same books of law and the prophets. How did he become different? What made him become the enemy of those others he studied out of the same books with? You see, that is the question: How can people read out of the same book, in this case, let’s call it the Bible, and arrive at different conclusions? Before you give an answer, remember, Paul believed these ideas about God for years before he had his conversion experience. Ideas I think he now calls “childish.”
All through Christian history, there has been one book read as a guide, the Bible. And yet all those people (religious leaders) had different ideas about how to apply it.
During the Reformation, those who differed with the more powerful were killed as heretics. Remember, same book. In the colonies, there was state religion, which varied somewhat between colonies. However, in the New England colonies, the main religion was a blend of Anglicanism and Congregationalism, better know as Puritanism.
Puritan preachers were said to be well educated and well versed in scripture, the same scripture you and I read. Yet they saw all other Christian groups as “dissenters”. In 1768 one man wrote of the “selectmen” parading the streets compelling everyone to go to church with threats of the stocks or confinement.
What is interesting is that with the coming of Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Quakers and others, the Puritans, not because their view of scripture had changed, but by the sheer volume of the arrivals, became more open. Had they matured?
However, Baptist (and others like them) suffered persecution, because they did not baptize children for original sin. According to court documents in Virginia, Baptist preachers were “pelted with apples and stones”, “nearly drowned by 20 men”, “pulled down and hauled by the hair,” “tried to suffocate with smoke”, “tried to blow up with gun powder”, “Shot with a shot-gun”, and “whipped by the sheriff”, among others.
Another issue which went on for years was slavery. All reading the same book, but there were those who saw having slaves differently than others. Who were those who put away “childish” thinking when reading the scriptures concerning slaves?
What about historical inequality, especially among blacks? Everyone read the same Bible. Black/white marriage was illegal in many states until the late 60s. It was supported with scripture. Looking at today, who do you think put away immature (childish) thinking?
When it comes to discrimination today, all and any of it, using the same Bible, who is putting away immature (childish) thinking?
Let’s take a little trip back through the history of ideas held by Christians (and some still do) that a more mature outlook has dispelled. And as we do, let’s keep in mind that the situation hasn’t changed.
How about working women outside the home? When was the last time you heard a sermon on “A woman’s place is in the home? Back in the 40s or 50s. What about women wearing slacks or worse, pants suits to church? There’s something in the Bible about that. Or, that “second covering” you know, a hat of sorts on the woman’s head. Or long hair on men? Remember the outrage and scripture quoting when men let their hair grow?
From casual dress to dress coats and ties at the communion table, the arguments have all come from the same book, the Bible. If all those ideas were “scriptural truth” where did they go?
Divorce and remarriage. O my, how that has changed! How could it, if the Bible said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” Has the understanding of marriage, divorce and remarriage “matured”? As you look at those who have had to deal with it, who has the most mature attitude? Keep in mind that the Jews always looked at such issues over and over again to see what was best.
Everything about God is about people. Childish ideas divide and discriminate. Childish ideas diminish and promote injustice.
Do you think Paul was referring to some action in the temple worship, or do you think he was thinking about people?

CONCERNS: Judy (Shivers) Edwards (Ralph and Harriette’s daughter, had surgery in Norfolk for an brain aneurism. She is now in critical condition. Her sister, Ann, fell and broke her leg at Judy’s home. Keep this family in prayer. Remember Shelda and Dwight Miller. Gary Overstreet hopes to be home by the end of the month. Rachel Mitchell is having back and neck issues. Joanne Elder is job hunting as is Martha Foy. Remember Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones. Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber Weaver. Melanie Gentry, Douglas Dorn, from the Blacksburg congregation, Wayne Phlegar, Tolly Nicklas, Ray and Darnell Barns, Gil Richardson, Jim & Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
Monday: Psalm 40:1-17
Tuesday: John 8:49-59
Wednesday: Philippians 2:14-30
Thursday: Ephesians 2:1:22
Friday: John 19:1-16
Saturday: Colossians 1:3-20
Monday: John 10:1-18
Tuesday: Matthew 13:24-43
Wednesday: Psalm 90:1-17
Thursday: Luke 14:15-24
Friday: Amos 5:18-6:1
Saturday: Psalm 71:1-24

Today is the third Sunday of the month. The worship service will be sans sermon. We thank Judy McWhorter for arranging the service and Akan Beach for leading the singing, as well as those who will be taking part.

Today is Super Sunday. The weather so far this winter has been unusually warm, and continues to be on Sunday. We have no fires in the fireplace this year. Come and enjoy the weather and the company of good friends.

The steering committee will meet in the library following the Super Sunday meal. Copies of the financial report will be available.
Several of the young people are traveling with Holly to Winterfest in Gatlinburg this weekend. They plan to be back in time to eat with us. Keep them in your prayers.

Each year about this time, a representative from the Gideons comes to tell us of their work distributing Bible across the world. On March 5, someone from the Gideons will be with us. He will give a short talk before the sermon and then take a retiring gift at the door after the service from anyone who would like to contribute.

Thanks to Martha Albert and those who help her prepare the Sunday evening meal once a month at the Ronald McDonald House.


While visiting our son and his family in Florida last month, I had a health issue. I suddenly was unstable and felt weak. My doctor had changed my medicine so I wondered if that was it. I called and he told me that could be it, but he needed to see me as soon as I got home.
During the time before we returned, our family kept checking on me. Hope asked if I should go to the emergency room. I gave her a quick answer, adding that I didn’t want to get trapped in Florida. She asked what I meant. I told her I wanted to come home.
What did I mean by that? Not that our son’s home was not a “home” that cared for me. Not that the doctors there were not qualified to treat me. “Home” was the place I felt secure and safe. Home was where my recliner was. Home was all the familiar things which gave me security. Home was where my extended family, the church, was.
I sometimes think in our rush to make everyone a “soul saver” that we overlook the value in the church being a sanctuary, a place of rest. A place where we know we are loved. A place where we can feel safe. That’s what I meant when I said I wanted to come home.
How would you describe “home”? “Home is where the heart is.” That’s probably the most familiar one. It can be seen in the Psalms written during the Jewish exile. It can be seen in the hymns that were written during certain time in history. The spirituals from the slaves sang of “looking over Jordan” to that better home. The swinging chariot “comin’ for to carry me home.” Or, at a later time, “This world is not my home, I’m justa passin’ through.”
All such songs are written from the mood and the moment. It is not a sin to say they do not express where you are at the moment. I’ve never really liked that last song, I quoted, although I sing it because it has good beat.
Without getting theological, as I read the story of creation, the earth was exactly what we needed. If you want to lean heavily on how we blew it, okey. But it is the place I find a sense of belonging. “I see the stars and hear the rolling thunder” works well for me. I also see the church as that “place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God.”
Regardless, there is power in “home.” When the military person in some foreign land, even with compatriots nearby, the thoughts that fill the brain will most likely be those of home and family.
What about the “church home”? For the Jewish exiles the “church home” was Jerusalem and the temple. They knew God was greater than the temple, but the temple gave them a sense of security and well-being. Was that often misplaced? Yes. But when they were away it made a difference in their lives.
So when I said I wanted to come home, I meant to the place which offered me the most security at the time. For me, that was the rest of my family, my church family.
As the preacher, I look out over the congregation each Sunday. I see you in your usual pew and I see people who offer me their love and support. And I want them to feel the same about me. It makes a difference when we are together. There is strength that flows through “fellowship.”
I’ve said this before, but there have been days when I didn’t feel like going to church. I’ve also said that unless there was some problem or crisis, I always felt better when I came. I hope that is true for you as well.
I hope the smiles and hugs you receive from this family mean as much as they do to me. The church is the place the touch and feel of God can be experienced. It is the place where God can be the most real.
You may be curious about my problem. We had boarded a plane for Florida and the flight went well. When we got off, it was a very long walk to the baggage claim, and I felt it.
The next morning I could hardly walk, and ended up needing a cane. So a trip that started out walking, ended up returning in a wheelchair.
My doctor sent me to a neurologist, and fortunately I was able to see him in four days. After tests he discovered I had Parkinson’s related tremors. It is treatable and I should notice a major difference in about two months. The day after I started the medicine I was pretty much waking without the cane. At this time I no longer need it. My thanks for your prayers and well-wishes, and especially your hugs.
CONCERNS: Douglas Dorn, from the Blacksburg congregation, is suffering from complications of diabetes. He is in intensive care at Lewis Gale. Melisha Scruggs’ friend’s mother, Sue Hall, is in hospice care from cancer. Former member, Shelda (Jean) Miller is recovering from ankle replacement, and her husband, Dwight had back surgery. Rachel Mitchell is having back and neck issues. Gary Overstreet is still in rehab at Raleigh Court. Remember Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones, Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson (cancer) Melanie Gentry, Joni Beach’s aunt, Pat Voss, and her niece, Jamie Cole. Wayne Phlegar and David Albert. Good news: Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, is in remission. She still has other health issues. The Bolin’s friend, Chris Campbell, has recovered from his stroke. Tolly Nicklas remains about the same. Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Stephanie Rigney, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

Monday: Matthew 7:7-11
Tuesday: Romans 3:21-31
Wednesday: James 2:14-26
Thursday: Mark 2:1-12
Friday: I Peter 1:3-12
Saturday: Psalm 105:1-45
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 Thessalonians 5;12-28
Saturday: Psalm 118:1-29

You may remember Isabelle Simmons. Isabelle had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Several of us attended a fund-raiser for her in March, 2010.
Leena Bolin checked on her progress and was told she is very healthy and doing well. The side effects of the chemo plague her with tooth and stomach problems, but otherwise healthy. Thank you Leena for the update.
Thanks to Wayne Flora and Del Bolin for filling in for Keith while he was on vacation, as well the times he was sick last month.
Due to several interruptions, the financial statement and budget has not yet been formed. However, your generosity has made it possible to deal with the needs and improvements as well as the benevolent work of this church.
There will need to be some work done on the sewer at the preacher’s home. Thank you all for believing in the place of God’s kingdom in Roanoke, and the challenges we face in this new year.

We have enjoyed having visitors with us the last few Sundays. Be sure to greet them


You get the idea expressed in the statement above. Are you an pessimist or an optimist? Is the world getting worse or better?
On any given day it would be easy to say the world is flushing itself into the sewer. The news media is full of events which can easily convince us the world has gone crazy. I could fill the rest of this article with examples of that, but that would only add to the despair we feel over the current events of violence, ignorance and fear.
Is there an answer to the half empty half full question? Of course. Which you decide best describes your view of the world and will determine how you see the future. Will the world end in a cosmic explosion (fire) because God couldn’t take it anymore? Will there be a new heaven and a new earth? Will Jesus rule the earth from Jerusalem, as so many believe? Will the earth be redeemed, as Paul seems to say in Romans 8:19,20? ”The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not only by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
Without trying to explain that, it does seem Paul looks to a time when the earth will be “liberated from its bondage to decay.” One can only imagine what he means by that. However, it seems to say God will not give up on the earth, even if it is beyond our imagination.
So what does that have to do with the half empty, half full glass? Just this. Rather than God giving up on the world and humankind, God will finish what God started.
A passage which has been a sort of guide for my understanding of God and God’s purpose in creation, is in Luke 14:28ff. It has to do with counting the cost of being a disciple, but it involves more than that. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, every one who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build but was not able to finish.”
Jesus then tells about a king who prepares for battle, and wisely counts his troops before fighting to see if he can win.
It’s in the context of counting the cost of following him. However, is it not also fair to assume God knew how to complete what God started? If God had an idea in the beginning, did God somehow miss something so that the plan was derailed and would have to be abandoned? Did God count the cost? I think God did. To be God means to be able to finish what was started and win over anything which would attempt to stop it. How could God ask us to be something God is not? If we are able to decide if we can finish what we started, win what we attempt,, should not God do the same?
So for me, no matter how bad things look, I see the glass as half full. It’s not easy when I see the human carnage around the world. I’m not even sure at times the scales of life’s balance are balanced. For example, we see the ugliness in the almost unbelievable beating, hostage taking and humiliating of an intellectually challenged teenager by a “friend” and three others in Chicago recently. As I said, the list could go on and on. However, in such cases there is often the response of those who see the glass half full. In the case of the Chicago teen, a sizable sum of money has been sent to him. Will that remove the trauma of his ordeal? No. But it is a way for people to show him there is another world out there, rather than the one in which he found himself.
I’ve tried to think of the progress of the world over time from a non-God point of view. I’m a believer in the divine force we call God, but I wonder how I would view the world if I didn’t believe that.
What if I believed it all started by some spontaneous combustion of matter and moved through time, (if there was time) each speck gradually moving to a higher order of development? Would I not see that “higher” development as a good thing? Is evolutionary development a good thing? Or is it something which will finally reach a point in which it has no meaning? In other words, will the future be half empty, or half full, or empty? Will human development create better humans, or worse?
I’m not really up on deep atheism, but I would think if I believed as I think the atheists do that I’ve listened to, that as the species adapts to the world around it, it changes for the better. But as I said, I’m not an expert on evolution, so maybe not.
My question is about how I view the world. Can I, looking back through human history, see the cup getting fuller, or more empty? I choose to believe it is getting fuller. As I look back and see the continuing development in all the fields of human endeavor, I believe in a better future. Does that mean we humans can’t destroy what we have? No. I believe there is more to us than meets the eye. I believe there is in humankind the potential for the breath of God. The image of God if you will. It is the part of humankind that seeks justice and expresses love. It is the part that, as Jesus said, would give its life for a friend. It is the part that gives its life for a perfect stranger. It is the part that takes humans into danger to rescue those they don’t even know who are sick, afflicted, and trapped in human suffering.
Is it half and half? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s like the waves of the sea, where there are high points and low, high tides and low. Maybe it’s like light and darkness. The darkness comes, but then there comes the light. And the light drives out the darkness.
How do we know how much darkness we can disperse with “This little light of mine”? All we can do is try and believe it is true, for God’s sake.

CONCERNS: Roger Fisher is recovering from carotid artery surgery. Judy Hall has been dealing with an infection in the eye she had the cornea transplant. Former member, Shelda Miller is recovering from ankle replacement and asks our prayers. Also, her husband, Dwight, will have hip surgery. Rachel Mitchell continues to have back and neck problems. Gary Overstreet is still rehabing at Raleigh Court. Joanne Elder and Martha foy are job hunting. Continue to remember Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Joni Beach’s aunt, Pat Voss and Joni’s niece, Jamie Cole. Wayne Phlegar, Leena Bolin aunt, Lee Nicklas, as well as a cousin, Tolly Nicklas, who has serious health issues. Also Leena’s friend, Chris Campbell who has had a stroke. Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Stephanie Rigney, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

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
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 (1/15) is Super Sunday. After having to cancel services due to the ice, cold and snow, it will be a welcome time to enjoy the warm fire, food and friendship. When we have these times of not being together to worship it makes a difference in our lives. Plan to stay and enjoy the meal.

Since this is the third Sunday, the service will be directed toward readings songs and praise.

With the weather canceling the service last Sunday, the announcement that Keith and Jo would be gone to Florida for a few days was not seen. Their children and grandchildren bought them tickets to go see Todd, Jen and the children. They left on Thursday, 1/12 and will return on Thursday 1/19.

If the steering committee wants to meet and review our financial status, several reports to aid in that will be in the library for the steering committee to review in relation to the 2017 budget if they feel the need to do that. The lack of being able to meet together has hampered getting this done.

The congregation was saddened to hear last Sunday of the death of Lyn Jordan’s brother, Brian, who passed away on December 26th.

Today will be the first day the adult class will enjoy the quiet of the classroom since the cold air return has been diverted to the hallway. Be sure as you go by to look at what a good job Wayne and Nathan Flora did on this project. Again, thank you so much guys.


I saw those words somewhere before they appeared in an article in The Christian Chronicle. The article was written by Erik Tryggestad, a Journalism teacher at Oklahoma Christian University.
“Post-truth” was selected by the Oxford Dictionary as its 2016 word of the year. It is defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” In other words, “Don’t confuse me with facts.”
The phrase “post-war” is a good one. It means the war is over. Post-truth” means truth is over, gone, no more. At least expected truth. “Post-truth” is often directed at the news, TV and radio media, and would also include other outlets such as the internet, Face Book, etc.
I don’t like the Oxford definition. While it makes its point, it disguises the fact that “post-truth” means truth is gone. When truth is gone, what you have left is a lie, or “untruth.” Maybe it was the best Oxford could do, but it seems a sloppy definition to me.
When someone makes a statement with the intent that it be believed, it should be the truth. Does that mean it always is? No. We can all get our facts messed up. But when a statement is made in which the intent is to influence the personal bias or fear of the hearer without a factual basis, that’s a lie. It’s when you make a statement and then say, “I don’t know if it’s true or not. I’m just saying.” Mission accomplished.
Did you ever wonder how many people believed the religious leaders when they accused Jesus of being a glutton and a drunkard? Which for some people would be worse than the accusation that he was a friend to “tax collectors and sinners.” Was a tax collector worse than the “sinners” or vice/versa?
I’ve heard preachers and teachers say the glutton and drunkard thing was just an accusation, that it had no basis in fact. In other words, Jesus didn’t sometimes enjoy eating a lot, or drinking wine. If that were true, the accusation that he was a friend to tax collectors and sinners would have no basis in fact as well.
When we read the gospels we are reading what the writers wanted us to know in order to enter the kingdom of God, as lived out and taught by Jesus. They don’t tell us much about the street talk. John does tell us that after Jesus talked about them needing to drink his blood and eat his flesh, that was enough for many of them, and they lost interest in his message.
How much slander did Paul have to endure? Reading his letters it would seem a lot. Did they out and out lie about him? Yes. But they did it in such a way as to make it sound true. They used the time-worn method of insinuation.
I’d have to ask the social annalists if we are in an actual post-truth period. What I think is, that with the almost unlimited outlets for the dispersion of information, truth is a fleeting thing. So fleeting that when someone lies there is no real price to be paid for it. In fact, the Oxford definition has some of it right. Post-truth is that which appeals to emotion and personal (prejudicial) belief, rather than objective facts. That seems to mean if you can get enough people to believe the lie, then the truth does not matter. Those who recognize the lie are simply unbelievers. Hitler was a master at that.
Any passing on of information is based on a position or subject. Just as this article is based on the Chronicle article. The writer or speaker then makes it a point to add to the discussion. The conclusion is already reached, all that is needed is to fill in the gaps. Is that always bad? No. It becomes bad when the preconceived position is tainted or slanted to make the desired statement. We all do it. The problem is the issue at hand. If the end result means little more than winning a silly argument, it’s not that serious . But when it involves the lives of others, and the dismantling of their dignity and reputation, or the promotion of oneself, that’s another matter. That’s the problem we all face.
When Jesus said the truth would set us free, he was talking about the truth his life and purpose in the world. The hardest part of that for us is not what to do in church, or what to believe about certain doctrines. The hardest part is living out the integrity that lets our “yes” be “yes” and out “no” be “no.”

CONCERNS: Roger Fisher had carotid artery surgery on Thursday. Former member, Shelda (Jean) Miller has asked for prayers as she recovers from ankle replacement surgery. Her husband, Dwight, will have hip surgery this next month. Rachel Mitchell continues to have back and neck issues. Gary Overstreet is still in Raleigh Court for rehab. Joanne Elder is job hunting, as is Martha Foy. Remember Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones. Betty Shepherd got a good report about her cancer. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Joni Beach’s aunt, Pat Voss, and a niece, Jamie Cole. Wayne Phlegar, Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, and a cousin, Tolly Nicklas, who has serious health issues. Also a friend of Leena’s, Chris Campbell who has had a stroke. Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Stephanie Rigney, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

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 20:11-27
Monday: Psalm 139:1-24
Tuesday: Matthew 8:1-13
Wednesday: Matthew 12:1-14
Thursday: Colossians 2:8-19
Friday: Revelation 2:1-11
Saturday: Matthew 16:13-28

The back wall in the adult classroom has a cold air return in it. When the heat or air-conditioning comes on it has been very hard to hear. Several options were discussed and during this time of the year when we have not had Sunday School classes due to the holidays, Wayne decided to take care of it with Nathan’s help. They petitioned off the back wall so the air would be deflected to a vent in the hallway just outside the classroom. This will not only help with the noise, but also with the air circulation.

Thanks to all of you who were able on such late notice, to bring toys for the two little six and four year old boys for Christmas.

There are seen poinsettias from small to large that need a good home since the holiday season is at an end. If you adopt one, be sure to leave the plastic tray it is sitting in. We use them each year.

The regular Wednesday evening service will resume this Wednesday evening.

Sometime this month the congregation will hear the annual financial report as well as setting a budget for this year. Even with those who have moved away, the congregation has been able to maintain its 2016 budget, thanks to your generous giving.

We had a great Christmas Eve service this year. We had decided to upgrade the song books and printed several more than what we normally use, planning to finish the rest later. We needed about six or seven more than were assembled! However, since we can now project the songs, it all worked out well.
Thanks to Karen Branch for leading us in song, and Leena Bolin and Jo Wagner for the window and table decorations. It looked warm and inviting.


by my friend, Ben
Well, it were Saturday an’ Me’n ol’ Blue’d fired up the ol’ Farmall an’ headed out to the back twenty to get us a Christmas tree. We did.
The weather were right warm for December, but I reckoned it would change in a day or two. I did. It just don’t seem like Christmas iffen there ain’t no snow. It don’t.
When we got to the back twenty, an’ it bein’ all warm an’ sunny-like, I sat down in a big ol’ tree stump what pa’d carved into a kinda chair. I did. He’d done it cause the back twenty were one of his favorite places. It were. It were the highest point on the farm. It were. From up here I could see the steam comin’ offen the coolin’ towers over at the Big River Power Station. It were fifteen miles or so as the crow flies, an’ on a clear day you could see it real good. You could.
Ol’ Blue took off through the stand of white pines pa’d gotten from them conservation folks years ago. He had a stand of ‘em on the north forty too, as well as over here. He did.
The smell a them pines trees took me back to all the Christmas’s while ma were still alive. It did. When it come to Christmas, ma were an artist in her own right. She were. She would start savin’ a little bit here an’ there startin’ about the fourth of July. She would. Even though she knowed me an’ pa wouldn’t a touched it, she squirreled it away in a shoe box way back on the closet self. She did. I knowed she knowed pa an’ me knowd all about it. She did. But I reckon it were all part of the joy ma got outta Christmas. It were.
Ol’ Blue come a runnin’ back to where I were sittin’. He knowed every inch of the farm. He did. An’ iffen I’d gone down to the house he’d a come home on his own. He would. There were times he’d just take off on his own. He would. I reckon he needed to have some time just to do whatever he wanted. I reckon dogs an’ folks were kinda alike when it come to that.
He come up an’ put his front paws in my lap. He did. He looked me right in the eye like he were about to say somethin’. Then I heard a deep kinda rumble down in his throat. I did. He’d do that when he were all content- like. He would. So I leaned over an’ got my face real close to his, an’ let out a soft deep rumble myself. I did. I didn’t know iffen we were talkin’ but he got real close an’ rumbled some more. He did. Then he pulled back an’ looked at me as iffen to let me know he were content. He did. Then he laid down at my feet an’ closed his eyes.
As I watched him breathin’, I remembered the day I got him. I did. Pa’d gone over to Pete Sloan’s farm to weld a broken rail on his wagon, an’ he took me along. He did. I liked Pete and Peggy Sloan. I did. Pete were one a them fellers what never met a stranger. He were.
Well, while pa were weldin’ that wagon rail, I were walkin’ in the barn. I were. Next thing I knowed a little pup what seemed only a few days old come yippin’ toward me outta a stall. It did. It were like it knowed me. It were. I picked it up and it were a he. He were. Pete Sloan heard the commotion an’ stuck his head in the barn. He did. He said, “That dagone dog of Kelly Jordan’s got my Molly pregnant. I ain’t sure what I’m gonna do with four pups. I reckon the Hickory Ridge Pound will take ‘em. They’re old enough to be taken away from their ma now.”
I could smell that puppy smell an’ feel him lickin’ my face. I could. It were as iffen he were mine already. It were.
When pa saw me with that pup. I could tell by the look on his face he knowed what I were gonna ask. He did. Pa were a farmer an’ he knowed a good dog were part a livin’ on a farm. So pa said he reckoned I were old enough to have a pup. He did. We weren’t sure how ma were gonna take it. We weren’t. Pa asked what we should name him. Pete said he had a lot of blue tick hound in him. So we called him Blue. The ol’ just got tagged on later. It did.
Well it were as iffen ol’ Blue knowed he had to win ma over. It were. An’ it didn’t take no time before there were a bond between ‘em that were special. It were. Lookin’ back it were as iffen ol’ Blue knowed ma wouldn’t be around too long. Fact is, she took sick an’ died the next November. She did
When I got the tree cut an’ decorated, me an’ ol’ Blue sat as the darkness fell an’ looked at the tree all lit up. We did. Ma’d been gone for years now, but she were alive in everthing about Christmas. She were. An’I remembered one Christmas in particular. I did. It were the one with the train. It were.
Just about Thanksgivin every year, Dan Watson, what owned the feed and hardware store in town would stick Christmas toys in his window. He would. So on them Saturday’s when we went into town, an’ pa’d stop at Dan’s store, I would look at the toys in the window. I would. Well, one Thanksgivin’ Dan put an electric train in the window. He did. It was on a big square track, all black an’ sleek lookin’ with a coal tender an’ five cars. On Saturdays Dan would have it runnin’ real slow-like so you could get a good look at it. It were my dream present. Thing were, we didn’t have no electricity at the farm. We didn’t
Ma knowed I loved that there train. She did. But there weren’t no way I could have it, even iffen we could afford it. So I just dreamed about what it would be like for it to be mine. I did.
Come Christmas mornin’ I woke up to the sound of somethin’ runnin’ an’ a bell a ringin’. Next to the Christmas tree were a train with a tender. It were on a circle track with a bell what rang as it went around. It were a windup train. It were.
An’ I reckon come tomorrow I’ll get it down outta the attic an’ put it by the tree. I will. It still winds up, but ol’ Blue always hated that there bell a goin’ “Ding! Ding! Ding!” He did. So I reckon iffen I wind it I’ll tie up that little hangy-down-thing what hits the track an’ rings the bell. I will. An ma’ll be there too. She will.

CONCERNS: Deloris Johnson, UVA. She is Edgar Blackwell’s sister. Rachel Mitchell is having neck issues. Gary Overstreet, Raleigh Ct. Rehab. Joanne Elder and Martha Foy as they job hunt. Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Joni Beach’s aunt, Pat Voss, and a niece, Jamie Cole, Wayne Phlegar, Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, as well as a cousin, Tolly Nicklas. Also a friend of Leena’s, Chris Campbell, who has had a stroke. Ray and Darnell Barns, Gil Richardson, Stephanie Rigney, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

Monday: Psalm 119:1-24
Tuesday: Matthew 12:22-37
Wednesday: Revelation 3:14-22
Thursday: Galatians 2:11-21
Friday: John 15: 1-11
Saturday: Psalm 112:1-10

Monday: Psalm 48:1-14
Tuesday: Romans 11:33-12:8
Wednesday: Luke 15:1-10
Thursday: Galatians 6:1-10
Friday: Romans 6:1-14
Saturday: Psalm 19:1-14

Today (12/18) is Super Sunday. This year, due to travel and scheduling conflicts, this will be our Christmas gathering this year. The annex is decorated and the fireplace will be blazing, and Christmas music playing. Be sure to plan to stay.
Our Thanks to Judy McWhorter, Leena Bolin, Holly Wagner and others who have worked on making the room look so cheery.
We were sorry to learn of the death of Larry Foy’s sister. She lived in Martin Tenn. and was just over a hundred years old.
A service of praise and readings will be held at the building on Christmas Eve at 6:00. Karen Branch will be leading us in the songs and various ones will read the story to us from the gospels.
In years past, several have gone out to eat following the service. Feel free to join the group.
The following changes in our gathering times will be in effect until after the New Year. On Christmas morning, Dec. 25 we will meet for the 10:30 worship service only. This will also be true on New Year’s Day, January 1st. There will be no Wednesday evening service on December 28th due to the number who will be away who usually attend on Wednesday evening.
This year the poinsettias complement the window decorations arranged by Leena Bolin. They will be “adopted” in January.
A family this church helps on occasion has two little boys, 4&6 years old who will not have much for Christmas. We were asked on last Thursday if we could help. That’s not much notice, but their wants are simple. They like cars, trucks and action figures. If you can help, wrap and bring the toys to the building before Saturday.
We have also given this family some of the wood we have behind the annex to heat their house at this time.


If you read church bulletins you’ve seen those “Bible Questions” where you are asked the name of Jabok’s wife, or something like that. They’re fun, but I never do them. Do you? Probably not, unless you’re envisioning winning a Bible Bowl or maybe Jeopardy. So I’m going to test you, even though I know you won’t take the time to answer. Your answering is not the point. The point is you will read the question. Maybe.
Here we go. What is the difference between “blameless” and “sinless?” There are several places in the Bible where we are told so and so was “Blameless before the Lord.” Does that mean “sinless?” If not, why not? Are you blameless? You may say, as do lots of folks on the “net,” that you are blameless because Jesus died for your sins. So blameless and sin are tied together.
In Luke 1:6, speaking of Zechariah and Elizabeth, it says, “Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the commandments and regulations blamelessly.” First of all, lets recognize the death of Jesus was about thirty some years away. They were “upright in the sight of God.” They observed all the commandments and regulations blamelessly.” All of them? How many is that? Ten, or the whole Law? So, even with all that, they were not really without some blame. Were they sinners and blameless at the same time? How?
Here’s one that asks about your idea of inspiration. Does inspiration mean everything in the Bible is literally true? Take for example Psalm 90:10. “The length of our days is seventy years, or eighty, if we have the strength.” Is that true? Contrast that with Genesis 6:3. “Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal: his days will be a hundred and twenty years.’” Which is true?
Before I go on, let me introject here that I’m not challenging the validity of scripture. I’m asking questions about how we interpret scripture, i.e., hermeneutics. In fact, (tongue-in-cheek) hermeneutic questions might be on the final, like “Who is your neighbor?” How you interpret the teachings of Jesus will depend on how you answer that question.
Look at I Cor. 5:5. Paul is dealing with a case of some sort where, “A man has his father’s wife.” He instructs the church to “Hand this man over to Satan, so that his sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” (NIV) It should be pointed out that the NIV interpreters did some interpolating here. The actual word for “sinful nature” is “body” or “flesh” which is different from “sinful nature”, but is an attempt to help in understanding what Paul meant. What did Paul mean? Some try to link it to II Cor. 2:7, but it doesn’t fit the context.
What about I Cor. 15:29? “Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?” (NIV) What does that mean? If you look, which you don’t need to, you’ll find various attempts to answer it.
Question: When was the Old Covenant replaced with the New? A long-standing teaching of Colossians 2:13 is that the Old Covenant was nailed to the cross. In other words, with the death of Jesus the Old Covenant was over. If that were true, it sure didn’t show it in the early church.
The cross happened about AD 30 or so. The church met in Jerusalem in about AD 50 to discuss the Jew/ Gentile issue. That’s a good twenty years after the cross. It should also be noted that the meeting was in Jerusalem, surely a place where, if the Old Covenant was nailed to the cross, it would be a primary doctrine. However, in Acts 15:21, James says, “For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogue on every Sabbath.” He said this in relationship to how much of the Old Covenant should be required of Gentile converts.
Since Paul was there, don’t you think it would have behooved him to speak up and say, “I’m about to write to the Colossians and tell them the Old Covenant was nailed to the cross. All this talk of Moses and the law is a moot point. Those nails removed the law, even from we who are Jews.” (The letter to the Colossians is said by some to be written sometime in the 50s.)
I apologize for answering that last question. I just couldn’t help it. Well, I didn’t tell you what was nailed to the cross. I’ll leave that up to you, if you’re interested. But maybe I’ve asked enough questions to make you realize how easy it is to let other people tell us what the Bible means, rather than digging for our selves.

CONCERNS: Rachel Mitchell is having back and neck problems. Gary Overstreet is in Raleigh Court undergoing rehab. Scott Blessing is just about over a bout with gout. Martha Foy and Joanne Elder are job hunting. Former member, Betty Shepherd had cancer surgery and is now at home. Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Joni Beach’s aunt, Pat Voss and a niece, Jamie Cole. Wayne Phlegar, David Albert, Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, and a cousin, Tolly Nicklas. A friend of Leena’s, Chris Campbell has had a stroke. Ray & Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Stephanie Rigney, Jim and
Mary Smith and Tim Elder

Monday: Genesis 15:1-21
Tuesday: Psalm 2:1-11
Wednesday: Mark 5:1-20
Thursday: Hebrews 11:1-18
Friday: I Thess. 4:1-12
Saturday: Psalm 130:1-8

Monday: Genesis 2:15-3:7
Tuesday: Exodus 4:1-17
Wednesday: Hebrews 11:1-18
Thursday: Ephesians 4:17-32
Friday: II Cor. 4:7-18
Saturday: Psalm 47:1-9

Due to scheduling problems, the Christmas “Party” will be more of a Christmas celebration which will take place on Super Sunday, December, 18th. There will be no special menu, just the regular pot luck of Super Sunday. Neither will there be a gift exchange. However, the annex will be decorated and music provided.

A Christmas Eve service will be held at the building. More details in the next bulletin. However, the time will be 6:00 P. M.

Mike Branch is starting a class on the prophet Isaiah on Sunday mornings. There is always good discussion in that class.

The Roanoke County Sheriff’s Office has sent out notice of a scam going on in the Roanoke area. They have asked that we make note of it for our members.
The scam involves someone placing calls and impersonating a law enforcement officer. The caller claims the victim has failed to show up for jury duty. Jail time is threatened if a fine is not paid. Most of you are aware of this scam, but the Sheriff’s Office says it has increased recently and wanted us to put out the word.
If you should experience such a call, the best thing to do is refuse to speak to them and then call the Roanoke City Police at 540-853-2211

The seasonal poinsettias will be in the windows next Sunday. By the way, those of you who attend on Wednesday evening might offer your help in decorating the tree in the annex.

For some time, Judy Hall has given her talents to placing flower arrangements in both buildings. She has asked Leena Bolin to take over that job and Leena has already started. Thanks Leena.