Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: June 2011


In the last bulletin I used the phrase, “We don’t execute shoplifters”. A man wrote and asked if the “we” meant our congregation, or society? Since he is in prison serving a life sentence, his question certainly has merit.

I meant the “we” to be our society. However, even that is not without challenge. At times it seems we do execute shoplifters in the sense that there can be a serious inequity in court sentences. Of course, we want each case to be judged on its on merits. However, the inequity comes when there is prejudice, or prejudging due to wealth, status, power, or color.

In the letter, the man, whom I have known for at least twenty years, tells of a prisoner who was in a fist fight, was shot by a policeman, nearly died, and was then sentenced to thirty-five years in prison, for a fist fight. He did not say if the other man was seriously injured or killed in the fight. After being in prison all these years he has serious doubts about justice in our courts.

In a recent newspaper article there was this story. I’m holding some details back to enforce the point. After a night of bar hoping in Fort Lauderdale, a man in his car hits and kills two people. He fled the scene, lied to the police and tried to pin the blame on someone else.

Next story. An eighteen year old kid in Rushville, Ind. sneaked into his high school and placed a mysterious package in the girl’s restroom. It was a blow-up doll. The man who killed the people got house arrest at his beachfront condo. The boy was jailed with a $30,000.00 bond and faces what may be eight years in prison. He has no previous record and is an A B and an occasional C student with hopes of possibly becoming a doctor. The man who killed the people was on probation, had a string of traffic violations and a cocaine conviction.

Question: Which of them do you think is extremely wealthy and which one is blue color? Question: Which one is white and which one is black? Why is it that I know you know the answer? In the case of the high school boy they charged him with “terrorist mischief”, and referred to the Columbine shootings.

Is this a race issue? Yes. But is it more? Yes. It is a race and class issue, as Leonard Pitts said in a recent article about these two incidents. It is what the Old Testament prophets railed against and so should we. Before we do, let’s take a little trip down the justice road in the Bible.

How current are these words form Ecclesiastes 5:8 “If you see the poor oppressed in a district and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are higher officials still”. Psalm 82:2-4 asks, “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Ezekiel 22:29 says, “The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice. The use of “alien” may be the closest thing to racial discrimination in the Bible. In Amos 2:6, 7 the Lord says about Israel, “They trample on the hearts of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed.” Had enough? There’s lots more, especially if you go to the “poor” section of you concordance.

I find it not surprising but frustrating that the Christian folks out there who talk about the eventual doom of this country and the world, always base what they say on sexuality and to a lesser extent some philosophical view of government. I just don’t hear them blaming injustice in the courts due to class and race. I don’t hear them talking about big banks and shoddy mortgages that ruined the lives of the “poor”. I don’t hear them talking about greed on Wall Street and taking advantage of the disadvantaged. In a word, I don’t hear the Word. And if that isn’t the Word we preach, what is the gospel?

CONCERNS: Wayne Phlegar is recovering from a fall as well as his broken knee cap. Connie Crites brothers are receiving treatment for cancer. Martha Albert’s brother is recovering well after giving one of his kidneys to a person who needed one. The recipient is also doing well. Eleanor Crush (cancer), Randy Conner(cancer, Connie Crites’ father (heart issues) Helen Nicklas, Jenni and Wilma Cullum. Wilma has been treated for bronchitis. They have found a knot on Tooney’s neck and are doing a biopsy. Tooney is the daughter of a friend of Judy McWhorter. Bud McWhorter cut three of his fingers rather severely, but they are healing well after surgery. Erma Williams is still out of work. Remember Tim Elder and those working to relieve suffering throughout the world.

Monday: Matthew 22:23-40
Tuesday: John 2:13-25
Wednesday: Proverbs 3:1-18
Thursday: Jonah 2:1-10
Friday: Matthew 23:23-39
Saturday: Psalm 127:1-5

Monday: John 5:19-47
Tuesday: Philippians 1:19-24
Wednesday: Genesis 7:1-24
Thursday: Lamen. 1:8-16
Friday: Romans 8:12-25
Saturday: Psalm 133, 134

Panda Mania, this year’s Vacation Bible School starts in just eight days! There are still some “Panda needs” on the foyer wall. If you can help with any of these things please take a panda or two. Please set aside some time on Saturday, July 10, to assemble all the decorations in the auditorium.
If you haven’t invited any children by now, do it this week. Mailed invitations went out last week.
Check with Erma and see if there are any areas of the week of VBS she needs help with.
The dates are July 11-15, 6:00-8:30 each evening.

That’s the name of the “FEEDING AMERICA SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA” food drive. Feeding America, formerly known as Southwestern Food Bank, is once again asking us to participate in a peanut butter drive to help feed the poor in our area. So each time you shop, pick up a jar, medium will work, of your favorite peanut butter and place it on the downstairs table, or in the foyer and at the end of the month when the drive is over it will be delivered. A flyer is on the downstairs bulletin board.

Once again this year, Mike and AC Branch, along with Susan Jordan, will be going to Guatemala to work with the Health Talents Ezell Clinic. They will be leaving in August and will be able to take some items with them. Susan will give us a list of things they can take.

Also. Judy McWhorter will be going later in the year, so if we miss getting some things ready for this trip we can send some with Judy.

We now have blinds on the foyer windows. This will allow us to block out the sun and make it easier to cool the building. In the winter months we can open them to let in the sun’s heat.

Due to the work of Susan Jordan, the Titmus Foundation has granted monies to be used to help send two Guatemalan students to medical and dental school. This was not an easy task to get done. Good work Susan!


Deciding the meaning of scripture has been going on since scripture was seen as authoritative. The simple statement, “It says what it means and means what it says”, betrays ignorance when it comes to understanding scripture.

Even the Old Testament law had along with it an explanation about the application of many of those laws. Jewish scholars could see that the Law of Moses had to be reasoned with. For example, when it came to an eye for an eye, one scholar said the size of the eye should be considered. If a small eye had been lost, it did not seem fair or just that a large eye would have to be given up to satisfy justice. You may find that a little silly, but it is not. Fairness in law requires that all things be considered. In other words, you don’t execute someone for shoplifting. The idea of equal value was, and still is, important.

So arguments such as how many angels can stand on the head of a pin will continue. Such discussions should not, but do, cause division and even violence. We take religion seriously, especially when we line up on opposite sides and shoot scripture at each other. It happens all the time and it usually deals with the “letter” of the law versus the “spirit” of the law.

The problem is that “law” and scripture are not the same thing. There are principles and guidelines in scripture as well as direct instructions. Such as “giving as one has prospered.” But even such a guideline as that can evoke disagreement as to what it means. The list could go on, but that is not my interest when I speak of the scripture wars.

While arguments about whether John the Baptist’s baptism was valid for the forgiveness of sins, to a hundred other things are interesting enough and can split groups into warring factions, these are not the worst of the scriptural wars. The worst are those where scripture is hurled as bombs to explode an understanding of scripture which supports human value. It happened all the time throughout history and it is happening now.

One of the first great sins of humanity was when one group looked at those who were in a different group and decided that the different group was inferior to them. We could say it started with Cain and Able. Seen as inferior, they do not deserve to be treated as equals. In fact, they could be treated like animals if they could be overpowered. They could be used as slaves or anything the imagination desired.

All human groups have looked at themselves as superior to others. The Egyptians, mostly because the people of Israel were squatters in the land that bordered on the one access to Egypt from the east, and did not believe in Egypt’s gods, decided they could not depend of these foreigners to be loyal to them, so since they were not Egyptians, relocated and enslaved them.

All wars ancient wars ended with persons taken as slaves. Even the Jews saw foreigners as potential slaves after a battle. Value even differed between tribes of the same people. Jacob and Esau were brothers, but their value was seen as unequal because of their birthdates.

With this inequality so deep seated, it is no surprise that any number of things became deciding factors in determining the value of the person or persons. In a patriarchal world it was easy to place women as inferior to men. This has gone on for centuries and in many places it is still part of the social structure. In each case where the Bible was considered a determining factor, scripture was used as proof. Those who would come to oppose this view also pulled out scripture to prove the other side wrong. One would think there would be a clear winner. After all, scripture is authoritative, is it not? But neither side sees the other side’s scriptures as being correct and authoritative.

Color became the most common judgment of a person’s worth. Even shades of color counted in the worth of the person. Black became the extreme on one end and white on the other. This was true even though humanity did not advance first through the lightest skinned people. It is interesting that color is not a strong element for determining value in the Bible. So it is also interesting that scripture was, and is, used to support discrimination based on color.

In the Bible, as well as societies beyond the Bible, value was based on ancestry. Regardless of color, if you were part of what was believed to be superior ancestry, or of a superior god, others were inferior. Since they were inferior they did not deserve to be treated as equals with equal value.

It is at the point that scripture is used to prove that some persons are inferior to others because of gender, race, region and any other thing that devalues the person, that the real harm is done. Using scripture to argue over intangible things is one thing. Using scripture to argue human value is quite another.

Does scripture argue for human value and equality? Of course. But those who argue the opposite position lob their scriptures across the trenches in an attempt to win their position. And so the war goes on as it has from the beginning. It is so deeply entrenched that there is little use to argue at all, especially using scripture. So how can these kinds of issues be solved? Any suggestion can be opposed. But I think we need, when human value and equality is involved, to step away from proof texts and look at how pitiful history has shown such an approach to be. In each case, with one sex seen as inferior to the other, with certain colors being inferior to others, with a certain color from a certain region being so inferior they are considered less than fully human, so they can be used like animals, or with economic status as a value, history has shown those who refused to grant equality by using scripture to be historically inferior!

Not only Jesus, but others who have demanded that all human beings be treated as they themselves want to be treated, see it as the beginning and the end of human value. What that takes is a change of heart, not a scripture war.

CONCERNS: Wayne Phlegar is recovering from a broken kneecap. He will be in a brace for about three more weeks. Connie Crites has two brothers dealing with cancer. Eleanor Crush (caner), Randy Conner has had radical surgery to remove his cancer. His wife, Debbie has asked for our prayers. They have not yet determined the source of Tooney’s head aches. Her mother is a friend of Judy McWhorter’s. Mike Breeding and his wife. Mike is Ron Matney’s nephew. Alma Martin. Joni Beach’s mother (cancer), Connie Crites’ father, (heart problems), Helen Nicklas, Jenni and Wilma Cullum. Jenni is dealing with some arthritis in one leg. Erma Williams is still job hunting. Remember Tim Elder, Scott Laughon, and those who work with Health Talents Int. and Bread For A Hungry World…

Monday: John 4:27-42
Tuesday: Eccl. 11:1-10
Wednesday: Psalm 86:1-17
Thursday: Genesis 3:8-21
Friday: II Timothy 3:1-17
Saturday: Psalm 84:1-12

Monday: Genesis 28:10-22
Tuesday: Matthew 18:1-14
Wednesday: Luke 5:1-11
Thursday: II Samuel 12:15-25
Friday: Acts 19:23-41
Saturday: Psalm 91:1-16

Melanie Beaver has returned to her home in West Virginia to continue her education at Marshal University. She has been an active part of camp and our youth for many years even before she came here to enter Roanoke College.

Some of you may remember Vickie Ham. Vickie moved here in 2007 and was going through a divorce and needed help at Christmas for her little girl, Sara. She was also recovering from cancer. Vickie worked her way though all of it and is now in Oklahoma City, soon to be married. She wanted to thank us for all we did for her.

Thanks to Rich Crites for repairing the damage done by someone to the lower wall in the handicapped parking area.

Enough new directories have been printed so that you may take at least two copies. If you took some last Sunday, you will find the corrected information which you can take and correct yours at home. If you brought yours back to get a corrected copy, please place them on the hat rack in the foyer so they do not get mixed in with the corrected ones. Information on where to place the corrections is also available on the foyer table. Thanks

Today, June 19, is Super Sunday as well as Father’s Day. Where can you find dad a home-cooked meal today without waiting in line except right here after church in the annex? Come!

Panda Mania is fast approaching! We are just three weeks away from this year’s Vacation Bible School. This will be the last year for VBS, at least for awhile. The children who come always have a good time, but our attendance has declined. Helpers are needed. If you are willing, see Erma Williams. As you can see in the foyer, there are things you can do by supplying some of the needs. Take a panda and provide the needed items. The Panda mania dates are July 11-15, 6:00-8:30 PM.


By my friend, Ben
I reckon I couldn’t a asked for a better Decoration Day. That’s what it were called even before ma were born. It were. Later on it were changed to Memorial Day. It were.

Well, ma always called it Decoration Day. She did. Cause it were the day she were goin’ to decorate the graves of all the family what were buried hither an’ yon. It were perty much an all day ritual, bein’s that her own ma an’ pa were buried over at Frenchburg. They were.

It were still early when I got the loppers an’ headed offen the porch toward that big ol’ Paul’s Scarlet rose bush. I reckon that bush were as old as the house, an’ I had no idea how old it were. I didn’t. What I knowed were that ma loved that old rose bush. She did. She’d tend to it with just about anything what she thought would make it grow. She did. An’ it seemed to know she loved it, cause each spring it would put out shoots what were nigh on to six feet long. It would. An’ each of them shoots would be covered with them deep red buds. They would.

Now Paul’s Scarlet were just about the hardiest rose around. It were. Course, it were an annual, meanin’ it only bloomed
once a year, just about right on Decoration Day. An’ each year ma would get on her gloves an’ cut them boughs off an’ lay ‘em in the back of pa’s truck. She would. Then all of us would pile in an’ head out to decorate the graves of our kinfolk. We would.

When the roses were all layin’ in the backa my truck, I went into the house an’ got me a big ol’ jug of sweet iced tea an’ a couple ham an’ cheese sandwiches. Then I got some special treats I’d picked up in town for ol’ Blue. I did.

As we wound our way up the hill past graves both old an’ new, ol’ Blue got more an’ more excited. He did. It were like he knowed Hickory Ridge Cemetery were the highest place around town. Which it were.

As I got near the top I saw Annie Hartley kneelin’ by Sonny’s grave. Annie were nearly always there by the time me’n Blue got here on Decoration Day. She were. Sonny were Annie’s only boy. He’d joined the army to better hisself. He did. He died in an accident durin’ his basic trainin’. He did. Annie were never the same after that. She kinda shut herself off from her husband, Trent, an’ Sonny’s sister, June, what were already married when Sonny died. Trent finally said he’d had enough an’ moved out. He did. Annie had a little ol’ job at the clothin’ mill, an’ I’d heard she got Sonny’s military insurance, what weren’t much..

After I laid the roses on ma an’ pa’s graves an’ talked a little to both of ‘em, thankin’ ‘em for lovin’ me an’ all, I sat down with a glass of that cold, sweet tea an’ looked out over Hickory Ridge. I did.

I were plannin’ to go to the parade in town, so I gathered up ol’ Blue an’ got in my truck. As I turned the bend there were Annie Hartley, still sittin’ by Sonny’s grave. She were. Her hair were all white an’ hangin’ down around her face. It were. I weren’t gonna stop, but she looked up at me an’ I could see she were crying. I could. So I pulled over an’ me’n Blue got out. We did. She didn’t say a word as I leaned over an’ said, “Them’s right perty flowers you put on Sonny’s grave, Miss Annie.” She just shook her head. She did.

Well, I reckoned that were about all I could do, so I called Blue an’ started to leave. I did. Annie reached out an’ took my hand an’ said, “My boy’s here”, an’ she pointed to Sonny’s grave. She did. I told her I knowed an’ that Sonny were a good feller. I did. She looked at me an’ said, “I ain’t got nobody. They’re all gone.” She did. Well, I looked down at Hickory Ridge an’ could hear the band tunin’ up. I could. But I sat down by Annie an’ put my arm around her shoulder an’ she leaned inta me an’ cried. She did. So I reckoned me’n ol’ Blue would just sit there with Annie for awhile. An’ that’s what we did. An’ I knowed ma were somewhere smilin’. She were.

CONCERNS: Josh Brown is out of the hospital after suffering from dehydration. He is not quite back to normal yet, but making progress. Eleanor Crush is being treated for cancer. Tooney, the daughter of a friend of Judy McWhorter’s is having head pain from a yet unknown source. They have done an MRI. Jamie King is still not walking yet after an auto accident in March. Randy Conner has terminal cancer. Mike Breeding and his wife. Joni Beach’s mother, cancer. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Florida has been told his cancer is in remission. Erma Williams is still job hunting. Remember Scott Laughon, Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder and the workers with Heath Talents Int. and Bread For A Hungry World, and those recovering from the storms that have brought destruction to so many places in our country.

Monday: Genesis 2:1-14
Tuesday: Matthew 3:1-17
Wednesday: I Thess. 3:1-13
Thursday: Matthew 21:28-44
Friday: II Peter 1:16-2:10
Saturday: Psalm 33:1-22
Monday: Exodus 1:15-2:10
Tuesday: Mark 1:16-24
Wednesday: Genesis 17:1-21
Thursday: Job 452:1-17
Friday: Luke 4:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 63:1-11

The new directory is to be published next week and hopefully you can pick up your copies next Sunday.

Vacation Bible School this year will be on July 11-15 from 6:00 to 8:30 each evening. This year’s theme is Panda Mania.

Sign-up forms are on the table in the foyer. Also, there are several “pandas” on the foyer wall. These are needs for VBS. If you can provide any of the items, please take a panda.

It has been decided that this will be the last year for VBS for awhile, so let’s make this one even better than the others.

We are looking at buying Venetian blinds for the windows in the foyer. The sun comes directly in those windows and makes it not only hot in the foyer, but also very hard to cool the upstairs for worship.

Due to a lack of churches responding to the Christian Youth Camp at Camp Bethel, we have not had camp in two years. There is a camp near Bristol, VA that is directed by Kevin Sigman, a former member here. There are several folks from the Blacksburg congregation who have been working with Kevin and find the camp to be well-run. It is called “Camp Highrock and all the information needed is on their web site @ Martha Foy should be seen about grouping up and going together.

Someone hit the wall at the lower end of the handicapped parking area and dislodged about a foot or so of the stonework. If you can do that kind of work, let Rich Crites or Keith know.

Remember that each Sunday communion is taken to Wilma and Jenni Cullum. At one time we had more than enough volunteers to do this. Lately that has fallen off. If we help each other it will only involve once a month or less. Please keep this in mind.

Super Sunday is June 19, which happens to be Father’s Day. Plan to give the dads another good meal.