Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: February 2013


Parts of that day rainy day in 1949 or 50 I remember as if it were yesterday, while other parts remain vague.

At Williams Avenue School when we arrived in the mornings we didn’t go in until a bell sounded. Then we lined up behind our teachers and went into the building and up to our classrooms. However, on rainy days the boys and girls assembled in a divided common area.

It was on a Friday, I think, and I went to the boy’s area, sat down on the floor and leaned my back against the wall. Bobby Jones sat down beside me. Bobby was not in my class and I didn’t really know him that well, but he seemed like a nice kid. We exchanged a few words and he took out a Peppermint Patty, unwrapped the foil wrapper, broke off a good sized piece of it and gave it to me. I thanked him and that’s all I remember, except that was the last time I saw Bobby Jones.

Sometime later that day or the next, Bobby was accidentally shot and killed by an older boy as they played with a loaded pistol. I didn’t hear about it until I went to school the following week. The boy who shot him was a few classes ahead of me and I didn’t know him. All I remember is that he had red hair. He was pointed out to me a week or so after Bobby’s death. I remember no one talked to him, and then in a few days he was gone. I heard his family moved away.

The memory of Bobby Jones hasn’t haunted me though the years. In fact, I don’t remember thinking much about it at all. But at some point, perhaps whenever I hear of the accidental shooting of one child by another, I remember Bobby. I wonder what ever happened to the red haired boy. Did he grow up to be a fine man who let the horrible experience mold his life for the better? Or did it ruin him? How could he ever forget the look on Bobby’s face when the bullet struck him?

But what about Bobby’s parents? What about those who have to deal with such a tragedy? This was an accident, but a young boy died. What about the parents of the children in Newtown, Connecticut? That was no accident, but can they forgive? Could I? Is it asking more than we are able to give? If I said piously, “No it is not”, I would be stating words I’m not sure I could follow. I don’t know. I know what Jesus did. I know what he said. But I just don’t know.

I know what Abraham Sirgy said to me after last Sunday’s sermon. He said, in his own words, that to not forgive is to be eaten up and enslaved by the one who did the wrong. I believe that. But I also know that if we forgive without having some sense of, dare we call it, “resolution” we may feel we do not care about the one who was wronged or killed.

A few weeks ago I mentioned Helen Prejean, the nun who wrote “Dead Man Walking”. In a talk she gave at Duke University she spoke about her association with Patrick Sonnier, who, along with his brother, raped and murdered a sixteen year old girl and her boyfriend. Prejean became Patrick’s spiritual advisor as he awaited death in Louisiana. “Dead Man Walking” is about her journey.

She talked about how the death sentence is often described by attorneys as the “honorable” thing to do. To not do it dishonors the victim. Most of us can feel that, can’t we? But she went on to tell of the time she was asking mercy for Patrick, a life sentence instead of the death penalty. The dead girl’s parents were enraged that she would ask such a thing, and she understood. But when the boy’s father came by he said, “Sister Prejean, why didn’t you come and see us? You don’t know the pressure we are under because of the death penalty.” She went with them and prayed. Then she began to minister to them. The father said, “They killed my son, but I will not let them kill me.” And in the next months and years he forgave those two brothers for that unspeakable act.
Is that what forgiveness is? Is that what loving the enemy is? Jesus said so. As I struggle with that, I thank God every time I think about Bobby Jones or Newtown, that I haven’t had to think about it personally.

CONCERNS: Richard Crites is continuing to have tests to determine the origin of his back pain. T. J. & Judy Hall have been ill with cold-like symptoms. Helen Nicklas has almost constant pain. The following are in cancer treatment: Philip Pierce’s mother; Walther Wagner, Keith’s brother; Ruby Stahl, a relative of Alan Beach’s; Joni Beach’s cousin, Stephanie Ridney; Joni’s aunt, Marge Greenwood; Regan, a ten year old boy with brain cancer; Deanna McRoy; Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick; Jim Hunter, Connie Crites’ brother and Sharon and Billy. Seeking employment are Sam and Melisha. Remember also the Tuckers in their time of grief, Martha Foy’s parents, Ray Reiss, Alma Martin, Ron Matney, Jenni Cullum and Tim Elder.

Monday: Daniel 5:17-28
Tuesday: Matthew 14:44-52
Wednesday: I Samuel 17:41-54
Thursday”: Psalm 70:1-5
Friday: Matthew 7:13-29
Saturday: Psalm 1:1-15
Monday: John 4:27-42
Tuesday: Ecclesiastes 11:1-10
Wednesday: Psalm 86:1-17
Thursday: Genesis 3:8-21
Friday: II Timothy 3:1-17
Saturday: Psalm 84:1-12

Each year a representative from the Gideons comes to tell us about their work of placing Bibles across the world. This year, Brad Buie will be the speaker. The date is next Sunday, March 10. He will speak just before the sermon and anyone who would like to contribute may do so in the foyer after the service.

We have received a wonderful packet of thank you letters from the children at the Lincoln Terrace Elementary School for the hand-knitted scarves Judy Hall and her crew knitted for them. There are thirty-seven letters from what looks like first graders. Thanks to all of you who joined Judy in knitting these nice presents for the children.

If you notice that Vivian Dugan’s pew looks a little empty it’s because she is spending March with her daughter over on the coast while Kathy and Jeff are on a cruise.

It would seem the best way to solve a problem is to find a solution. Since we announced the valet service for the handicapped area, there seems to have been no need for it. However, if you would need it, or would simply like to use it, see Karen Branch and she or AC will meet you at the lower parking lot, drive you to the handicapped door and then return your car from the lower lot after the service. It’s better than riding in a golf cart.

If you’ve looked behind the annex it may seem the cooker has been vandalized. It hasn’t. One of its legs just gave up the ghost. We have been looking to make some improvements on it so this is the time. You can be sure it will be ready for the Labor Day Weekend cookout.
As soon as the weather gets warmer, a long-needed motion light will be installed above the back door. It is very hard to see to get the key in the door at night. It will also add security to that area.

Don’t forget to save the pull tabs from aluminum cans for the Ronald McDonald House.


The title may be a bit off-putting to some, but it poses an interesting, and I think, important concept.

Of course, God has to be all the “all’s” about God, like “all-knowing” etc. But does the actual understanding of God evolve? The Bible would show it does.

This can be seen in the names of God, or really, the names developed to express the character and nature of God. In Gen. 1:1 the word for God is “Elohim”, which means something like “all powerful”. Surely a god who could create everything would be known as all powerful. By Gen. 2 the term “Yahweh” appears. It relates more about the salvation of God. It will have several “tags” after it to show additional characteristics of God. In Gen. 7 “El-Elyon” appears. It means something like “most high God”. In chapter 15 the word “Adonai” is used. It basically means “Lord”. In chapter 16 it is El-Roi”, or “all-seeing”. In Chapter 17 the more recognizable, “El-Shaddai” is used. In English they are all translated “God”. But each one of them shows the development of another view of who and what “God” was.

The above is not an exhaustive list of the terms or names used to define and describe God. It is to simply point out that as we see God in the Bible, we see a developing view of God. We also see the hint that they believed there were other god as well. If “El-Elyon” means “most high God” the implication is that there were other gods not quite as high. In fact, the commandment to not place any other gods before the One God indicates the idea of other gods existed. And, this was believed for centuries. Do we still believe that? Some do, but the Bible will eventually make the point there is only one God. Not one higher, or one more powerful, or more all-knowing etc., but just one. Period. A “false god” is no god, just an idea, or a superstition.

Nothing is understood outside the environment in which it exists. Which means human knowledge and understanding develops by observation and learning more about the surrounding environment. Such things as fire, the wheel, flight and so on were learned in that way. Each step led to another and another. Each generation would build upon the experience and knowledge of the past.

A good example of this is the list of “abominations” listed in the Law of Moses. If you read them you will find that most of them eventually disappeared. Why? Well, the usual explanation is that God more-or-less changed his mind, or a former covenant was replaced with a new. Why? Why wasn’t a list of things God found abominable always abominable? Why would a God-given covenant ever need to be replaced? If God is always changing his mind, how do we know when and where he will change it next?

The Bible answers that by saying there were problems with the old way of doing things. Paul would say that Christ “came in the fullness of time.” Meaning the right time. Why wasn’t it “right” before that time? Well, it would even seem the time Jesus came wasn’t right for some people. Would ten years later have really changed anything? What Paul is trying to say is that there was a need for change. God was being seen differently and Jesus was the one to make that change happen. This can be seen in relationship to the Gentiles. Why is it so easy for Paul to cross that line and bring the Gentiles into fellowship with the One God? We can see there were others ready for this “gospel” by looking at the book of Acts. And we can also see the resistance by those who can’t see beyond the end of their tradition, which was all, by the way, backed up by scripture and its interpretation.

You will notice that as I wrote I used “he” in reference to God. Why is a spirit called a “he”? Is God of the male gender? Does God have gender? No. But because in the evolution of time, the male of the human species has been seen as dominate. It’s almost redundant to even say it because it is so well known. It would seem from the beginning this was so. Was there ever a matriarchal society? Some have said, but if so it is certainly an exception.

This dominance led to thinking that the female was somehow inferior to the male. Sadly, this is still believed by many men, even in these modern times. (As I typed that line I thought about how in the future our “modern’ time will be seen as ancient; and that is as it should be.) However, people who looked at the world around them began to see something was wrong with treating women inferior, no matter how many scriptures and edicts were quoted to prove otherwise. That kind of thinking just didn’t fit the evidence in the world around them. While there are still those who resist that change in understanding, both in religion and otherwise, it is coming, even if not fast enough.

The same can be said about who should be treated inferior and therefore be enslaved to serve the superior. Are some humans superior to others simply because of their origin and ethnicity? There some both here and abroad who think so.

It is not that God changes as it is that as humanity continues to advance, our understanding of God changes. I know that has been denied most of my young church-going life, and still is by some. But if we look, especially in the area of science, we can see the often conflict between scientific discovery and religious thinking. The earth was flat for centuries, and the Bible included that belief. God was seen as above the “heavens”. The idea of infinity was beyond belief. The earth had “ends”. We still say “The sun comes up”, but not really. The sun doesn’t move.

Are there constants? Yes. As Paul said, “Faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.” There are human issues that are deeply rooted in a former understanding that observation and experience will no longer accept. Such change is not easy. But think how the world would be different if every decision, every change, every understanding, would have something of those three things Paul mentioned included in them.

CONCERNS: Philip Pierce’s mother has started cancer treatment. Ruby Stahl, the mother of Alan Beach’s sister-in-law is receiving cancer treatment, also, Joni’s cousin, Stephanie Rigney, is starting treatment for lymphoma. Joni’s aunt, Marge Greenwood, is completing treatment for cancer. Regan, the ten year old nephew of a coworker of Erma Williams, and these others are in cancer treatment: Deena McRoy, Nick Nicklas, Leena Bolin’s brother, Keith Wagner’s brother, Walter, Joni Beach’s mother, Sharon and Billy, friends of Del Bolin. Jim Hunter is now in remission after cancer treatment. Those seeking employment are Sam and Melissa. Remember also Martha Foy’s parents, Ray Reiss, Betty Billings, Alma Martin, Ron Matney, Jenni Cullum and Tim Elder, and the Tucker family in the sudden death of daughter.

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 20:11-21:9

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

Our sympathy is extended to Sheila and Ben Robertson in the death of Sheila’s mother, Dorothy Kirk, of Hughson, CA She died on Saturday, February 9th. The funeral was last Thursday.

Sheila and Ben will be taking some vacation time while in California and will return here in March.

Megan and James Downing are getting settled in their new home just outside of Salem. Their address is 1305 Kings Crest Dr. Salem, VA 21153. Their main phones are their cell phones. Megan’s is 540-521-0260, and James’ is 540-525-0402.

We have received a thank you card from Joanne Elder in regard to our help in putting a new roof on her house. In part she writes; “Thank you to the Roanoke Church of Christ for everything. Thank you for the help and showing me our God is truly an awesome God. Only God knows how deeply your thoughtfulness has touched and strengthened my spirit and soul.”

Joanne then wrote a very lovely, longer note. You should stop by and take the time to read it all.It is on the downstairs bulletin board.

Today, February 17, is Super Sunday. If you are a visitor that means we will have a fellowship meal in the annex following the service. Please be our guest.

There will be a brief steering committee meeting in the library following the Super Sunday meal.

Due to the need for extra parking in the handicapped zone, we will offer valet parking to anyone who is unable to find a place to park. If you find the lot full, return to the lower parking lot and someone will ride up with you and return your car to the main parking lot. After the service they will bring your car back to the handicapped area for you.

For those of you who do find a spot, try to leave enough room for a “drop-off” area. As of now the Branch family has volunteered to serve in the capacity.