Every time I reflect back on the events we know as the Civil Rights Movement, I think about how people with Bible in hand, coming from their respective Christian churches, went out to spew racial hatred. How does that happen?
We know how it happens. No child is born prejudiced. Prejudice is taught, either by the mouth or by actions. Sometimes unintentional (and intentional) standards are set. There can be subtle insinuations that one color is better than another. Is the white, driven snow actually pure? The idea that the bride wears white to represent her purity, according to research, started around the 20th century. Historically, in some countries, brides wore white as a sign of wealth.
Biblically speaking, “dark” or “black” is beautiful and mysterious. In the “Song of Songs” (The Song of Solomon, which is not about the church), the exotic lover is dark skinned. Likewise, the list of dark-skinned people in the Bible is notable, and there is no noticeable disparagement of them due to color. Anyone interested in such a list can find an abundance of material on the internet.
The various historical ideas about the origin of black being associated with evil are too involved to go into here. However, that there is discrimination based on feelings of superiority and inferiority based on culture or color, is deeply and insidiously imbedded in human history. It is still very much part of the present. Think the University of Oklahoma fraternity.
One of the troubling things about the history of segregation in the US is how long it took (and takes) to really work on it, as well as Christian (?) opposition to it. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed the bill to integrate the public school system. It would be three years before any action was taken in segregated areas. Then, in 1957, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas saw, under federal protection, its first black students.
Meanwhile, in states like Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, to name the more notable ones, nothing was done. This, along with the general unrest among the black population of those states, led by such men as Martin Luther King Jr., caused a movement for to be born.
As I watched the memorial ceremony at the Edmund Pettus Bridge last week, I remembered one of the things I heard said during those years, while being many miles away.
If you happen to be in Selma, there is only one memorial to a person involved in the Civil Rights Movement there. It is to Viola Gregg Liuzzo. You can read her story on any internet encyclopedia. In short, she was a thirty-nine year old white woman who went to Selma to shuttle those who would take part in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March. While doing that, she was seen with a black marcher in her car by four members of the KKK. They chased her down and shot and killed her. She was married, and a mother of five children.
Here’s what I heard about her from those around me. She got what she deserved because she should have stayed in Detroit. She went there to sleep with black men. As a woman she had no business being a Civil Rights activist, especially since she was from the north. I never heard one good word about her from Christian and non-Christian alike. Her death was her own fault.
However, had she gone to Africa with a religious group and was murdered by the locals for interfering with their way of life by educating girls, she would have been considered by most, a martyr. Some, of course, would say she was not wise taking such a risk, especially if she were the mother of children. Such decisions made by those who are called to take such risks always causes the cautious to wonder. And I admit to being one of them. But I thank God for such people. They are the world changers.
At the Selma bridge, speeches were made about how far we have come since Bloody Sunday. Those advances are thankfully obvious. But even without the speeches saying the work is not finished, we see it on the news media every day. It is a sad truth, that the deaths of those of color, does not resonate the same in the world as do those considered white. (Let each one examine themselves.)
The stress I feel for history, is the place the religious of all kinds have had in it. It is easy to point the finger at any radical group. The problem is to me, that each one of them may be reading from the same (spiritual) guide book. For those of us from a Judo/Christian background, we see people reading the same words and arriving at different conclusions. The Jewish leaders who rejected Jesus’ teaching read from the same works as did he. In some ways, this may be expected, and even understood, at least in some areas. However, when the discussion evolves around the worth of the person or persons, there can be little room for differences. The Bible makes that very clear. Except for some, the clarity is still not the same as it is for others
How could the black race be tied to the curse of Ham? I heard that in my early life and I suspect that it is still around. A close look at the text from Genesis 9:25 shows that it was not Ham, but his son, Canaan, who was cursed. That did not keep an early body of Jewish writings from saying the black race was the cursed race. (See various internet sites)
The constant issue for followers of Jesus is to be as sure as we can, that what he taught is not lost in our own prejudices and presuppositions. Just take the Sermon on the Mount and discuss each teaching and see how easy it is to water them down to fit our own interests. At any time in any discussion about the ethics and teachings of Jesus, the explanations can be worlds apart. And yet, for most, Paul saying that everyone should submit to the governing authorities, (Rom. 13:1) is crystal clear. But that’s what the Selma marchers didn’t do, and those troopers who beat them did. Which do you think was doing the will of God?
CONCERNS: Betty Billings (Keith’s sister) is in Raleigh Court Health & Rehabilitation Center. She is in room 112, bed A. Bill Branch had successful heart surgery and is now home recovering. Bill Albert’s son, David, is now at home, and is on a kidney transplant list. Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, (leukemia) Kim Hall’s friend, Mary (MS) Betty Foy’s sister, Sue Huels, Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson, Rich Crites, Jim Hunter, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Ridney, Marge Greenwood, Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Mary Smith, Mrs Mataro and Todd Baumgardner.

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
Monday: Psalm 40
Tuesday: John 8:48-59
Wednesday: Philippians 2:14-30
Thursday: Ephesians 2:1-22
Friday: John 19:1-16
Saturday: Colossians 1:3-20

Joel Pack will make a short presentation about the work of the Gideons International as they place Bible throughout the world. Those who wish to contribute to that may do so in the foyer after the service.
Today is also Super Sunday. This once a month fellowship meal brings us even closer together as a family. Plan to stay. A special invitation is extended if you are visiting with us today.
Occasionally we are told when people will be away for more than just a weekend. Vivian Dugan will be with her daughter on the coast for the rest of the month while Kathy and Jeff are in Italy.
Jeff Forsyth will be in Boone NC for the a few weeks as part of his training. Karissa is there this weekend.
We are nearing the end of reading the New Testament in book form and out of the traditional order. If you have not been part of it and have the book, come and share what you learned.
You may have noticed that someone took out a section of our fence. This was a dumb thing that had nothing to do with the snow.
Wayne Flora, who installed it way back when, says we can repair it ourselves. He can purchase the needed material when the weather warms and we will plan a day when it can be fixed.
With the approaching of warmer weather, Erma likes to use natural light for the directory pictures. She will be asking you on nice days if you will have your new picture taken. Once the process starts, if you want to wear something special for the picture, just know that from now on, on nice Sundays, you may have the directory picture taken.
ALSO: Erma needs some help with a program she is putting on here in the annex. If you can help see her for the date and details.

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.

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