The God Lottery
New Life Bulletin ~ 5/2/21
Do you remember the “Miracle on the Hudson”? It was in 2009. Cpt. Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger and his co-pilot set US Air flight 1540 with 155 on board down on the Hudson River in New York, when the engines were damaged after striking a flock of birds.
This article was written not long after that incident. In the article I recalled the pilot and crew talk about doing what they had been trained to do, and the great results that followed that training. I remembered all the letters to the editor about this accident in the local paper.
In one of them a woman said God had taken control of the pilot’s hands and guided the plane past the buildings of New York and set it down in the Hudson. In response to that, another woman asked if it would not have been easier for God to have moved the birds. Good point. This, of course did not set easy with those who want God to have complete and total control over everything. The pilot’s training and cool head had little to do with the outcome.
Another respondent said if God had moved the birds no one would have seen the miracle. Yet another said for God to move the birds would have been the easy way, and God never does anything the easy way. I would have to ask God about that.
It seems to me that if God is to be credited with all the things that go right, God should also get the blame for all the things that go wrong. In other words, why would God save a plane one day and let another crash the next? Why would God let a drunk driver kill a family on the way to church and just miss someone in the other car who is not a good person at all?
These tragic moments present us with the question of the ages – why? The answer, or the search for the answer, is perhaps the oldest question in time.
Many ancient people believed God, or the gods (an goddesses) were capricious. A good example would be the Greeks. If something bad happened, it was because the gods were displeased. Or they were fighting among themselves and someone on earth just happened to be in the line of fire. There was no explanation for it, but there was also the constant attempt to appease them.
In other societies when nature came down hard on them, they were sure they’d made the gods angry. Illness ‘was caused by God, or the gods. There were fertility gods that could cause a woman to be baren or fruitful. Since the Bible is a book about human beings, these questions are asked there. In most cases they were answered with the same logic of the surrounding world. Rich. Blessed by God. Poor. Cursed by God. Healthy. Blessed by God. Sick. Cursed by God. Any number of examples of this can be found in scripture. However, as Christians, we believe that Jesus revealed the true nature of God. So, how did Jesus handle these questions?
First of all, the idea of God choosing between people for disaster and blessing to show God’s power is not part of Jesus’ teaching. In fact, he says God has no partiality and sends the life-giving rain on the just and the unjust. He says God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
When the disciples asked Jesus about bad things being a sign of God’s judgement, (Luke 13:1-5) he told them if they didn’t stop thinking like that, (to repent) they too would perish. Of what was he telling them to repent? The thinking that God caused, allowed, did, things like that. They would perish because they would never understand the grace and love of God if they continued to think God acted that way. That should tell us that the idea that God causes human tragedy for some heavenly purpose, is a terrible one that blocks us from knowing God. Yes, I’ve read the Old Testament.
There is a tricky place in John 9 where the blind-born man seems to be a candidate for divine judgement. Jesus refuses to put the “sin” label on either the man or his parents for the blindness. But then (and the translation makes a difference here) he says, “This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (NIV)
Did Jesus mean God caused this man to be blind and live-in blindness all those years just so he could bring Jesus into his life? Hardly. However, there are those who believe that and somehow find comfort in it. Or is Jesus saying these tragedies are the areas in which the true nature of God can be seen and understood? That is, that God does not make people blind. And yes, I know about Paul and the Damascus road. Question: If the blind man or any blind person stayed blind and became a one-of-a-kind musician, filling the world with the wonder and beauty of music, would the work of God not be seen in that life as well? Would Jesus teach that the only way a person could have the work of God in them was if they were robust and in good health?
Did Jesus ever teach that God’s work was to heal everyone via a miracle? No. Of course, there is the advancement of science and medicine that has reached amazing levels of health and well-being today.
This brings up the matter of context. There is an immediate context and then the broader context of the body of teaching. In other words, something may be said that seems to say one thing, but when viewed in the context of the whole teaching of Jesus and the rest of the New Testament, it does not fit. If Jesus seems to say one thing and then either does not do it, or does the opposite, we need to make what he said fit the body of his teaching, not make the body of the teaching fit a single statement. This is especially true in the above examples.
I also find it interesting that when Jesus wanted people to see the work of God, he didn’t make his miracles the primary focus. He talked about the lilies of the field and the birds in the air. Normal stuff. And yet if we miss the wonder of the normal, we will never see God. In fact, what was the clearest, most profound way to see the nature and work of God? Jesus said it was in showing kindness and compassion toward those who need something from us. The sick. Those in prison. Those who are hungry. Those who need clothing. He dared to say that in doing for them we are doing for him. If we want to bring God into the “miracle on the Hudson”, let’s see God at work in the training, care and dedication of a pilot and crew, not as some divine lottery we either win or lose.
THOSE TO SERVE IN MAY
Announcements: Mike Branch
Ushers: Lyn/Susan Jordan
Singing: 2 & 16 Karen Branch
9, 23 & 30 Del Bolin
Scripture: Holly Wagner
Communion:2,16 & 30 Wayne Flora
9 & 23 Keith Wagner
2- Jay Thompson 7-Debra T. McRoy
19-Jake Fuller 20-Sherry Bland
22-Abraham & Kathleen Sirgy
26-Delmas & Leena Bolin
CONCERNS: Wayne Flora’s parents Sylvus and Martha Flora and sister Jan. Newlywed medical student of Del Bolin, Cory, recently diagnosed with rare Cancer. Leena Bolin’s brother Steve’s family members recent diagnosis of ALS and Bi-polar. Alisa & Wayne Flora’s nephew, Ethan Gentry has brain surgery scheduled for May 4th. Friend of Susan Jordan, Lebreska Whitaker is recovering from a bilateral mastectomy. Friend of Mark McRoy, Mr. Calesta Saunders is paralyzed from waist down from a spinal stroke. Susan Jordan’s parents, Kerry and Sula Hay, as Kerry is recovering from heart procedure. Please continue to pray for Judy McWhorter’s sister Jan and brother-in-law, Gary Overstreet, Gary will be having surgery on Friday 4/30. Megan Downing’s aunt Stacey Smith with ongoing cancer treatments. Also pray for Megan’s grandmother Bonnie Beaver has stage 4 ovarian cancer and will have surgery on May 5th. Megan’s grandfather Judd Beaver who has Parkinson’s. Erma’s sister, Lorretta, has serious health issues and is awaiting an oncology treatment plan. Alan Beach is doing well and is working full-time, while continuing Immunotherapy treatments at UVA, keep him and Joni in your prayers. Del Bolin’s mom, Carrie health issues. Alisa Flora’s sister, Melanie Gentry, stage three cancer. Please keep the whole family in prayer. Teryn’s Mother, Brenda Windham cancer. Joni Beach’s niece, Jamie Cole. Pray for Debbie McRoy’s cousins, Linda Alsup and Erica Halford. Deanna McRoy has a kind of cancer that can return at any time.
ALSO REMEMBER: Wayne & Susan Phelgar, Angela Cavalier, Nick Hodges, Martha Albert, Ruby Crosen, Mark & Ellen Tidwell, Donte McCadden, Joni and Alan Beach’s fathers, Jim Hunter, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, Tim Elder.
*Movie Night – Working through the logistics of setting up a weekly movie night for the summer.
* National Day of Prayer – Join me on May 6th at Century Plaza Park at 12:00pm downtown.
SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS
Please join us for the study of “The Acts of God in the Book of Acts. At 9:30 am, in person or online with YOUTUBE.
The Church workday will be Saturday, May 15th from 9:00am to 12:00pm. Need your help to clean up around the buildings.
Saturday May 1st from 10:00am to 4:00pm weather permitting in church parking lot. They will have pottery, jewelry, Gnomes and more.
ONLINE YOUTUBE SERMONS
We continue to provide services online. The Roanoke Church of Christ YouTube channel link below:
RESCUE MISSION TRAINING
The Agape After Care training program will be on May 23rd at 1:00pm. After Church, go to lunch then come back for the training.
Join the Zoom Meeting on the
Matthew at 7pm. Meeting ID:873 6718 6931 https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8736718693
Anna Ferrell has started a new job this week at Carilion. She is asking for prayers, blessings and peace with all the new changes.
Vivian Dugan will be visiting her daughter, Diane for a month.
It was an honor to have Rabbi Karl Mardian with Hope of Isreal Congregation at 3735 Chaparral Dr. Cave Spring, VA 24018 to lead our Service last Sunday 4/25/2021. We really appreciated his time and enjoyed his service. We ask for you to remember his Congregation in your prayers. If you would like to, please send him a thank you note. I will place a thank you card on the table in the foyer for you to sign from our church family.
PICTURES FOR THE DIRECTORY
Lyn and Susan Jordan are needing updated pictures for the new directory. Please send them a picture or be sure to get with them to take an updated picture. Susan Jordan’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org