Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: May 2012


The greatest commandment is to love God and one’s neighbor as oneself, and is expounded on by, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” If that is true, would it be fair to say the opposite would be the greatest sin? I know we don’t like to talk about degrees of sin, (there is) but if one commandment is greater than the others, it seems to me that should also be true when it comes to sin.

One of two good things about growing old (I can’t remember the other) is that you have a history, that is if you don’t suffer from amnesia. Perhaps the wisdom of the aged comes from what they have seen, heard, read, still remember and learned from. That’s the way it is with me, if I can dare claim anything close to wisdom.

First let me talk about the history I’ve read. Being a Christian it seems logical to start in scripture, the New Testament. The story of the Good Samaritan sheds light on the lack of love between them and the Jews. Samaritans were lumped in with the “Gentile dogs” from a Jewish perspective. In other words, there would be a discrimination of worth and value. By the time we reach Paul’s letter to the Romans, the problem is still there. The Jewish Christians were not about to see the Gentile Christians as equals in the gospel, and maybe a little bit vise versa. The disenfranchisement of slaves is also a problem that had to be addressed, as did that of women. It is sad that these discriminatory practices lasted for centuries among Christians. That Great Commandment thing had a hard time getting in the picture. And when it did, somebody’s head was likely to roll.

We know that the “All men are created equal” line was penned with completely Anglo-Saxon European ink. African slaves and Native Americans need not apply. The majority of Christian congregations accepted that separation as God’s word.

By the grace of God, slavery was abolished. But the discrimination still continued, as it does today. It would be about a hundred years before any action was taken to change the Jim Crow laws of the South, and bring the North as well to face the issue of discrimination. Sadly, Christian churches often led the battle. This is where my history comes in. I can remember the preachers with their pamphlets with an ape superimposed over the face of a black man on the cover, and inside were the claims that integration would destroy our society, bring about a plague of venereal disease, and destroy the white race by inner marriage. That “Loving one’s neighbor” thing had its limits.

I don’t need to mention (but I will) the fight just to let women vote. As much of that resistance came from Christians as from others. Color was, and is, not the only form of discrimination I can remember when (as late as the 1980s) that women entering the work place was condemned by preachers as the end of God’s plan for the family, and therefore, the nation. I don’t know how many Christians approved of the Japanese/American internments camps of WWII, but I’m sure there were too many.

Does anyone remember when a Jew couldn’t get a job because they were Jewish? How many Christian employers were part of that discrimination? Too many. How about the signs in New York that read, “Italians need not apply”? What about the view many Christians had, and have, about mixed marriages? Remember the sermons that said a marriage between a member of one Christian group to a member of another, was not a marriage sanctioned by God? Or that a marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian was not a “scriptural” marriage? The list could go on, Catholic and Protestant, Jew and Gentile, etc.

There is a common denominator that runs all through the history of such events. Inequality. One person or group diminishes the worth and value of another. The way it is fed is by fear; fear that if the others are seen as equals, we will become less. To not love is to discriminate against the neighbor who is different than we are.

As Christians, we don’t “go” to church. We “are” the church, the body of Christ in the world

CONCERNS: Richard Crite’s brother-in-law is not expected to live but a few more weeks. The Crites may stay there until the end comes. Jim Hunter is continuing with cancer treatment. Sheila Robertson had cataract surgery on Friday. Keith Wagner will have the same this Wednesday. Steve Mullins, a friend of Del Bolin, has serious cancer, as does another friend, Sharon. Also, one of Del’s student’s brother-in-law has aggressive thyroid cancer. His name is Billy. Nick Nicklas, Leena Bolin’s brother is preparing for cancer surgery. Tony Smallwood, the truck driver-friend of Garrett Williams has shown slow, but continuing improvement. Jen McCready (eye issues), Ken Teatino (cancer), and Randy Conner. Helen Nicklas, Jenni Cullum, Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, and Tim Elder.

Monday: I Samuel 16:1-13
Tuesday: Mark 15:1-20
Wednesday: Luke 12:1-12
Thursday: I John 2: 11-24
Friday I Peter 4:1-19
Saturday: Psalm 11:1-7
Monday: Genesis 12:1-20
Tuesday: I Samuel 3:1-18
Wednesday: Philippians 4:8-23
Thursday: I John 4:7-21
Friday: Romans 7:13-8:11
Saturday: Ephesians 3:7-21

As it gets hotter the dead limbs on the old tress along the highway dry out and fall. If you look you will see some are big enough to do serious damage. These trees are on city property but hang over our parking lot. There is plenty of room, and while it’s tempting to park in the shade, be careful which tree you pick. We hope in time the city will cut and replace these trees as they have at other places in the neighborhood.

A Thank You card was sent to us from John, Lisa, Jacob and Kayla Hawks for including Jacob and Kayla in the recognition dinner for graduating high school seniors. It is on the downstairs bulletin board.

Remember, a group of students from the Virginia Tech School of Medicine and the Jefferson College of Health Sciences are asking for gently used clothing. There is an extra need for plus-sized clothing. These items will be picked up at the church and delivered to the Rescue Mission. A box is in the room to the left at the foot of the stairs.

We are considering a weekend VBS program for the fall. It will be called “Rocky Point Lighthouse”. It will take helpers, so be prepared to be asked if you can help.

A friend of AC Branch is collecting aluminum cans to help a friend get a start when he gets out of jail. The friend has a goal, and AC says with our help he has almost reached it. However, he would like as many cans as possible.
When you save the cans, remove the pull tabs and place them in a container in the same room as the collected clothing. These benefit the Ronald McDonald House.

We have been unable to make the connection with the source in NC for the sound system. We will now begin to look at local options and hope to see this moving forward soon.


I was sitting in the van last week, waiting for someone, and I had the radio on. The host said his next guest was (I don’t remember his name) the editor of Skeptic Magazine, and that he was going to be talking about the role of religion. I thought I’d be listening to another person who was going to say religion was all about superstition, etc. But I was surprised when he said studies had shown that religious people live about six years longer than those without some kind of faith. He also said they test better at being happy with life and have a greater sense of purpose.

At this point I was wondering what his skepticism of religion was about. What he said was rather enlightening and interesting. He did not demean religion. In fact, he praised it. But his praise did not come from believing in God, but witnessing through research, that being part of a believing group of people was good for one’s health and wellbeing.

I’m not about to get into a debate with someone on the radio about God. What I want to look at are the results of the study. The guest said that it is good to be part of a larger group. In the case of religion, it was good to be among people to be encouraged to live right and to do good to our fellow humans. He said this could come from any group of people who cared about the others in the group. You can easily see that AA, or any other recovery program works on this same principle. In other words, we all need others, not only to make life better, but to be healthier as well.

I know from what I’ve read, as well as what I’ve heard at times growing up going to church, that for some, attending church is all about obeying God. What is important is that you are in the right place when God calls the roll. This does not mean that in times of death or sickness that prayers and food are not delivered. They are. But church is about obedience and pleasing God. Any peace or health you may have received from that was often tied to what God would do in the area of peace and health if you failed to attend faithfully. In other words, it took us awhile to understand that communal worship was actually good for us. (Try telling that to your kids!)

I think the need for a group is more important now than it has been. When I was growing up in Norwood, Ohio, we knew the names of everyone on our block, around the corner, and up a good ways on each intersecting street. (Please don’t think I’m going to say we need to get back to the good old days.) We knew them because we walked to the bus and to school and the local grocery store. There was no air conditioning or an abundance of televisions, and the good radio programs could be heard on the porch from the open windows in the summer. Our lives were more exposed, and for the most part it made for a good community. When people moved out of towns and cities to have more room and privacy, houses lost the big front porches with the chairs and the swing. The need to drive to the supermarket stopped the walking to the local store on the corner. Sidewalks became a thing of the past, and we pulled the shades in our cool, comfortable homes and lost touch with our neighbors.

I can still remember the names of many people on the streets around the two houses in which we lived in Norwood. After twenty some years in Roanoke, there are still some people on our one-block street I only know by waving at them as they drive by. Is that partly my fault? Sure. But you know as I do, that times have changed. Our society has changed and I can’t turn it back.

Because of this change, the life and health value of having a group to be part of is more important now because it is more difficult. It is not just outside the window, next door and down the street. It has to be sought after and valued. The research has shown that we humans are pack or herd animals. We do better when we are with others. The apostle Paul recognized this when he said, “For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.” (Rom. 14:7) Poet John Donne put it another way when he wrote, “No man is an island.” Down deep we miss something when we try to live a solitary life.

That’s where church should come in. I would rather hear the person say they come to church because their life is more balanced and full, than to say they are there because God commanded it. One is a response to an order; the other is the response to a relationship, both with God and the congregation. Of course, we know it’s not as simple as just joining any group, church or otherwise. It has to be the place where you feel accepted, safe, respected and loved. In other words, a place of common bonds. It should be a place, where upon leaving, you feel better for having been there. If not, find another place. The idea that the worshipper has to feel bad in order to feel good, is a sad view of worship. That does not mean there can not be pain in worship. When the person becomes “pricked in the heart” it’s a good thing. That causes them to have hope, and it’s a far cry from being beaten half to death by feeling hopeless and helpless. It is sad that much of worship makes people feel that way.

The editor of the magazine is right when he says being part of a group makes life better all the way around. He can see that in group studies which have nothing to do with God, as such. Any religion or meditative group will work. The proof is in the outcome.

However, as a believer, I have another issue. If the desired outcome is peace, health and wellbeing, why is it that it is the believers in God who will give up their health and wellbeing because they are part of a believing group? In fact, becoming a Christian can get you injured or killed. Just being part of the Garden Club does not mean you will risk or give your life for a stranger. That defies the research of having a group for personal growth and security, even though that is a good thing. But risking or giving one’s life for others because of the chosen group is something speaks of the nature of God.

CONCERNS: Richard Crites’ brother-in-law. Also his cousins’ family as they deal with the accidental death of mother. Mary Smith is still improving, Jim Hunter is still receiving treatment for cancer. Zona Fisher is doing some better. Remember Sharon, the Bolin’s friend who has lymphoma. The other friend, Ellen, died last week. Pray for her family. Del also has a student whose brother-in-law has aggressive thyroid cancer. His name is Billy and his wife Kate is pregnant with their fourth child. Tony Smallwood, the truck driver injured in an accident, has shown some slight improvement. Donna Brutto, Jo Wagner’s cousin is recovering from bladder cancer surgery and treatment. Pray also for Jenn McCready, (continuing eye issues), Ken Teatino (cancer), Randy Conner, who has an issue after successful cancer treatment. Helen Nicklas, Jenni Cullum, Alma Martin, who has moved to another facility. Joni Beach’s mother, Tim Elder and the good works done by Christians across the world.

Monday: Daniel 6:6-28
Tuesday: Mark 4:26-41
Wednesday: Psalm 136:1-26
Thursday: Acts 23:11-35
Saturday: Psalm 135:1-21

Monday: John 15:12-27
Tuesday: I Corinthians 13:1-13
Wednesday: John 6:35-51
Thursday: Matthew 17:14-23
Friday: I Peter 5:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 125:1-5

Richard Crites was named Professor Emeritus of Virginia Western Community College at the graduation ceremonies on May 11. Richard devoted his teaching life to Virginia Western because when he was young, the state of Illinois brought a building in his small home town and started a community college where he got his start. Roanoke presented a similar situation and it was his first and only teaching job. Congratulations Rich!

This evening May 20, there will be a dinner honoring the high school graduates. Along with our own AC Branch will be Kayla and Jacob Hawks, as well as the Poindexter twins and their family. The twins are honor graduates at Lord Botetourt High School, who will be entering Radford University. These twins, a boy and a girl, along with a younger brother and sister belong to a family we have helped some in the past and we recently bought microwave ovens for the twins’ dorm rooms. Come and meet this family and the other graduates.

Today (May 20) is Super Sunday. As you can see from the former announcement, it will be a full day of food and celebration. Plan to enjoy the fellowship meal together after the morning service. If you see a visitor be sure to encourage them to join us.

A thank you card was sent from the staff at the Ronald McDonald House, thanking Martha Albert and all her young and older volunteers who prepared the meals at that facility. The card said the meals were delicious and they were thankful for the help given to the families of hospitalized children.

At least two more meals are planned in the month to come, with adults taking the lead. Martha will let us know the details.

A group of students from the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Jefferson College of Health Sciences are collecting clothing for the Rescue Mission Thrift Store. Bring it to the building and it will be picked up.


One of my favorite TV shows was Rocky and Bullwinkle. (Like you didn’t watch it!) It was supposed to be for kids but it had a sneaky appeal to at least some adults.

A favorite segment of mine was “Fractured Fairy Tales”. They were cute and creative. Fractured scriptures are neither. Fractured scriptures are those taken out of context. They are the ones used to defend a position, usually prejudicial, or traditional.

It is interesting that a number of those commonly used, have to do with the poor and the needy. That is ironic, since the poor and needy are among the most talked about by Jesus and the prophets. In fact, something Jesus himself said gets fractured. In Matt. 26:11; Mk. 14:7 and Jn. 12:8, Jesus says, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” When that is quoted it is usually, “Well, Jesus said there’d always be poor people.” The context for using that statement is mostly in relation to what to do about poverty. That was not Jesus’ point if you read the whole context. He also said they would not always have him. If the statement meant the poor would always be with us, does it also mean that Jesus will not always be with us?

Another one is in II Thess. 3:10. Here Paul says, “For even when we were with you we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” Translation: “Poor people on welfare are lazy and should not get help because they will not work.” First, the passage has
nothing to do with public assistance. Second, no one likes freeloaders. But there are a lot of rich boys and girls, men and women, who never worked a day in their lives and eat really well. Think Paris Hilton and countless others. But wait, they have the number one god—-money.

About this text we need to ask at least two questions. One: Why do we immediately think of welfare? Two: Why is this the only place Paul feels the need to say this? By the way, the idea that Paris Hilton and others like her are “busybodies” because they don’t work doesn’t fit the context either. People who work can also be “busybodies”. If we ask why the two letters to Thessalonica were written, perhaps we might get closer to what Paul meant. If you remember, the folks over there were called “a model” for believers. (I Thess 1:7) But it seems there was a problem with accusations of greed on the part of Paul, which takes up most of chapter 2. After personal notes in Chapter 3, he deals with the need to stay away from sin. Then in Chapter 4, it is interesting that in vs. 11 he tells them to “work with your hands, just as we told you”. Are they a “model” church of freeloaders? Then in response to some questions about those who had died before Jesus returned, he tries to answer their concerns. In so doing, his words leave the impression Jesus’ return will be soon.

In II Thess. He speaks of their “persecutions and trials”. He says these will be solved when the Lord comes with “blazing fire”. 1:7 But he needs to correct some ideas about Christ’s return. A bad guy has to show up first, someone he’s told them about who is on the horizon, about to be come. In the meantime they are to be ready. Then, as he ends, he tells them to stay away from everyone who is “idle”. 3:6 There it is again. What’s the problem with these “brothers”? In vs. 11 he comes back to it, saying he has heard about the idle “busybodies”. Note that in vs. 12 he urges them to “settle down and earn the bread they eat.” Why were they unsettled and not working? What were they “busy” about that caused them to not work? Dare we say they were like those who quit work any time someone predicts the coming of the Lord and goes about spreading the message of “Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon”? Why else would this “model” church have people unsettled and not working?

There are other such passages, like that whole thing about widows in I Timothy. Do we really believe Paul thought a sixty year old widow was young and then old a year later”. (I Tim. 5:9) And have you noticed how, when Jesus’ words about how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven, we rush to explain it, rather than say, “O yeah, all those greedy rich people!” Or when James says, “Is it not the rich who are exploiting you”, (2:6) we don’t say, “Boy is he right about the rich!” Do you know why?

CONCERNS: Mary Smith is home, but still unable to be out and about. Jim Hunter has started chemotherapy. Del Bolin asks prayers for Sharon and Ellen. Ellen is near death. Sharon has lymphoma. He also has a student whose brother-in-law, Billy, has very serious thyroid cancer. His wife is pregnant with their fourth child. Tony Smallwood, the injured truck driver has shown some improvement. He is in Forsythe Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC. Donna Brutto, Jo Wagner’s cousin is recovering from bladder cancer. Jenn McCready, a therapist in Del Bolin’s office, Mark McRoy’s friend, Ken Teatino, has had good reports as he undergoes treatment for lymphoma. We have learned that former member Anita Pennell’s mother is critically ill in Tennessee. Helen Nicklas remains about the same. Remember Jenni Cullum, Joni Beach’s mother, Alma Martin, Tim Elder and all the good work of Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.

Monday: Exodus 14:10-31
Tuesday: Isaiah 2:1-14
Wednesday: Romans 14:1-9
Thursday: John 5:1-18
Friday: Genesis 4:1-18
Saturday: Psalm 146:1-10
Monday: John 1:35-51
Tuesday: Revelation 1:4-20
Wednesday: I Corinthians 6:7-20
Thursday: Luke 17:11-19
Friday: Philippians 2:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 98:1-9

AC Branch will graduate from Faith Christian soon. She has been on the Honor Role each of her years there. She will be, as it is officially said, matriculating to Roanoke Collage. She will be living on campus, but we’ll still get to see her. ALSO: There will be a dinner hosted by Erma Williams for her in the annex on Sunday, May 20 at 6:00 PM. Everyone is invited to come. Also in attendance will be former members Jacob and Kayla Hawks who are also graduates.

Our thanks to several of our young folks as well as some adults who prepared and served the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House on Wednesday evening. This has become a really enjoyable and rewarding work.

Kirous (that may not be the right spelling) is a prison ministry that Joanne Elder is involved in. They will be using the annex on Saturday, May 12 to develop some of their plans. If you would like to help, they could use some. They will be there from 8 or 9 AM to about 2 PM. See Joanne for the exact time.

The steering committee was asked about having a weekend VBS program in late summer or early fall. It depends on how many people will be available to help. It would be called, Rocky Point Lighthouse. Think about it and more information will be forthcoming

AC Branch is collecting aluminum cans for a friend who is trying to help give his friend a “boost” when he is released from jail by being able to sell the cans to Cycle Systems. You can put them in the room to the left at the foot of the stairs.

Before turning in the cans, remove the pull tabs. These can be used by the Ronald McDonald House. A jar has been placed on the table downstairs and a box in the same room where the cans may be deposited.

Super Sunday is May 20. Make plans to stay and enjoy the meal together.