Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: December 2018


All we know about the birth of Jesus is contained in two of the Gospels, Matthew and Luke. Matthew wraps it up in seven verses. No mention of the trip to Bethlehem, nor of an angel talking to Mary, but just to Joseph.
The language in Matthew is interesting in that while Mary was “pledged” (engaged) to Joseph, he is referred to as her husband, and that he considered “divorcing” her as the law would have required. He did not because he was a “righteous” man. We are also told Joseph “took Mary home as his wife.”
Let’s notice a few things. The “pledge” was considered a marriage which would require a divorce to break. Mary is called Joseph’s wife and he is called her husband. He is called a righteous man because he was not willing to do what the law required with a public divorce. How he could have done that “quietly” I’m not sure.
The next thing Matthew tells us takes place maybe two or more years later. The Magi from the East arrive in Jerusalem looking for the Christ of the Jews. King Herod wants to put an end to this probability and orders all the boy babies around two years old in and around Bethlehem to be killed. An angel warned Joseph and he took his wife and son to Egypt until Herod died.
There is no mention of angels singing in the highest, crowded inns or mangers. That’s all in Luke. Historically, Luke’s account was accredited to Mary, Jesus’ mother. Luke alone has the visit with Elizabeth and the song Mary sings during that visit.
The details in Luke about the birth of Jesus are intimate and personal. The crowded inn, the manger, the shepherds and the angelic singing are all told as witnessed by Mary.
In Luke, her pregnancy is not a problem for Joseph. There is no mention of any distress on his part about the coming child. Luke simply says, “He (Joseph) went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” (Lk. 2:5) Even though nine months have passed, they have not yet married. Did they ever have an “official” marriage? If so, we are never told. But remember, the “pledge” to marry was as strong as the marriage itself, and Jesus is recognized as Joseph’s son.
The next thing we experience in Luke is the presentation of Jesus at the temple for his circumcision on the eighth day of his life.
Then he is twelve years old and even though the family has made the trip annually to Jerusalem for Passover, this year was different. Though not stated, there was probably a bar mitzvah- type event in which Jesus (now a man as far as learning and keeping the law was concerned) decided to stay and listen and learn from the teachers of the law. This four-day seminar got him in hot water with mon and dad. Again, Mary being the central figure in the story is the one who scolds him. Luke adds, “But his mother treasured (remembered) all these things in her heart.”
Eighteen years, more or less, pass until we meet him again at the lower Jordan standing in line waiting to be baptized by his cousin, John.
In Matthew Jesus returns from Egypt and the next thing we are told is he is about thirty and is waiting to be baptized. Both Mark and John begin with Jesus as an adult.
So what am I going to do with all this? It is Christmas, and all the sights and sounds of the birth of Jesus surround us. I want to place his birth in perspective. How many other children were born that night in Israel? How many around the world? How many died at childbirth? How many only lived a few days or weeks?
Mortality rates in the ancient world are hard to trace. In Greece many (mostly men) lived into their seventies. However, some studies say about 40% of both men and women would die before that age, not because of aging, but disease, accidents and war.
But on a night somewhere in Bethlehem, a baby boy was born. He had no idea what lay ahead. All he wanted was to be fed and to feel secure, and I’m sure he cried. He would grow into a little boy. Did he have friends who died? Did he get sick? Yes, even though there are those who would frown at that idea. Would the physician heal himself?
Did he and the other children play as all children do? Yes. He was one among thousands who were born on that same night around the world.
At what point did he feel a sense of his destiny? Some would say at that moment in Jerusalem at twelve years old. I don’t think so. Was there no other Jewish boy with the same attraction to learning the law of his fathers? Perhaps Luke hints at that when Jesus responds to Mary’s scolding, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” However, he may have been saying,”Where else do you think I’d be?” Luke says they didn’t understand what he was saying to them. He adds that he went home to Nazareth with them and was “obedient to them.” I suppose that meant the next year at Passover he didn’t hang out at the temple, at least without asking permission. Luke concludes this period of Jesus’ life by saying, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
At what point during these “in between years” did Jesus feel a sense of calling? We don’t know. I would take Luke’s “wisdom and stature” to mean as he matured. Like so many other meaningful people in history, it became stronger each day.
What we do know is by the time he came to John to be baptized, a decision had been made, and that decision would be tested, both by the voice from heaven and the temptations of power which followed. But the course was set.
From that holy night in Bethlehem, to a holy morning by an empty tomb, come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

CONCERNS: Continue in prayer for Jo Wagner’s sister, Judy Powell; Jamie Cole, Joni Beach’s niece; Alan Beach’s sister-in law has health issues, as do the aging parents of the Beach’s, Wayne Flora’s parents; Del Bolin mother; and Teryn Gaynor’s parents. Donte McCadden, a CF patient, is in UVA medical Center, and not doing well. Wayne Phlegar remains home-bound with circulation issues. Ray and Debbie Reiss’ son-in law is being treated for brain cancer. Others are Deanna McRoy, Linda Alsup and husband, Prentice; Bill Albert; Jim Hunter; Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, Marjorie Wilson. Melanie Gentry, Ray and Darnell Barns, Gil Richardson (ALS); Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

Today we will have our third Sunday special service.

Today is also Super Sunday. It is also the Sunday we enjoy being together during the Christmas season. The annex is all decorated and bright. The wood is in the fireplace for a nice warm fire, and there will be food on the table.
The annex looks especially warm and inviting with the new light s and Judy McWhorter’s quilts lining the walls.
The Christmas Tree has been decorated, so everything is ready. Come!
Also, the sign-up list was just a way for those decorating to know about how many table decorations to set up. If you didn’t sign up, don’t worry, there is plenty of room and food.

Our thanks to those who did the decorating. To Holly Wagner for setting up the tree and fluffing the limbs. To Judy McWhorter and Leena Bolin for decorating, and someone might have been overlooked, but thanks to all of you.

This will be the last bulletin in 2018. We are in a period of family, reunion, remembrance and looking toward the New Year. As we do so, we are grateful for this church family and how much we love and need each other. It makes the song “Lean on Me” a reminder of who we are and what we commit to each other with God’s love.

Remember the Christmas Eve service at the building. It will start at 6:00.

Steering Committee Announcement


Good Morning congregation!

I’ve got good news, and good news, and that equals great news for Keith and us!

Our most favored senior minister has been trying to find a way to retire for several years. But because of his affection for the flock here, not wanting to appear to be abandoning you and me – his church family, and several unexpected turns in the life road over the last couple of years, he has delayed his formal retirement. Until now.

You may already know that at one time he and Jo were thinking they’d retire, pack up, and move to Florida to be near Todd – a Florida ‘feet up in the warm southern sunshine’ kind of plan. However, they seem to find Roanoke a comfortable home, and this church family a loving and secure place for their next phase in life’s journey.

So 2019 will find the steering committee – Del, Judy, Martha Foy, Wayne, Susan and me more actively steering us, guiding this little fishing boat across some new waters – I’m trying for a biblical metaphor here, though none of us has any walk-on-water experience.

And we’ll be soliciting your input as well. Input along three parallel tracks :

1.coming up with a list of potential guest speakers, and inviting these new voices for Sunday messages; this to complement Keith as he slows back to preaching only one Sunday a month,

2.recruiting an associate minister to at some point possibly take on the traditional role Keith has filled for the last 30 years,


3.examine our church family’s needs, wants, wishes, and spiritual character as we transition and transform, who we are in God / in Christ / in the Holy Spirit…

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

…along our church family’s path. To try to determine the fruits and gifts of our congregation in a refreshed and more visible and discernible way than we may currently be aware. Keith pointed out last Sunday some of our folks and their particular projects of benevolence and works for and with the community within the immediate family and around our neighborhood.

Please give Keith and Jo a supportive and encouraging hug, not one of goodbye, but of a welcome and “we’ve got your back” encouragement for their transition. As Keith and I have discussed, and I know, retirement can be a real challenge!

There will be much work to do, much self-examination, much stepping back and looking at who we are and where we want to head, and we’re going to all need to be positive and supportive and prayerful. Please know that the Steering Committee is counting on everyone here, our whole church family, to pitch in, throw us your thoughts and ideas. A former member, who has moved away, recently gave us a thumbs up by saying, and I quote “Roanoke Church is the kind of church the world needs”. Almost made me tear up, then of course I immediately felt a pretty big weight of responsibility land on OUR shoulders.

Pray for Keith and Jo…
Pray for the Steering Committee…
Pray for our church family…

Pray with me… “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭51:10-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:23-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Blessings to us all,
Mike Branch, for the Steering Committee


Some Christians want nothing to do with the Old Testament. (The Hebrew Bible) They say it was “nailed to the cross.” A misapplication of Col. 2:14. Others say it is still important because it was and always will be God’s word. But Paul says in Gal. 5:3 that demanding one part of the law be kept (circumcision) requires keeping it all.
When the “law” is mentioned, it usually means the Law of Moses contained in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, or generally the first five books of the Old Testament.
Orthodox Jews still “keep” those laws, with the exception of animal sacrifices. Reformed Jews (who gave them permission to reform the law?) have modified the law by retaining the spiritual and holy parts while dropping some of the “holiness” codes. For example, those which begin in, say, Leviticus 18. However, lets look at 19:19. “Do not mate different kinds of animals. (That’s how you get a mule.) Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven with two kinds of material.” The list in Leviticus is interesting and revealing.
There are reasons for all this, and my answer might not jive with others. I am not interested in the answer now, but rather the reason modern Jews have tossed so much of that sort of thing away. I haven’t researched the reasoning, but I’m sure it had nothing to do with their love of the law or of God. However, and if you can prove me wrong, please do so with facts, I think the modern Jew realized many of the things in the law were part of their survival in the surrounding culture and when that changed, these “laws” were obsolete.
Were they right in doing that, and by what authority did they do so? By what authority do we Christians pick and choose passages from the law of Moses and not use them all as Paul said we must?
I’ve said all of this to make this point: How much of the Bible including the New Testament, should we understand in it’s historical and cultural context? For example, if a beloved preacher or some other significant man was dying, would we advance the medicine used on King David when he was old and dying? In I King 1:ff it says, “When King David was old and well advanced in years, he could not keep warm, even when they put covers on him. So his servants said to him, (David?) ‘Let us look for a young virgin (an unmarried young woman) to attend the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord king may keep warm.
“Then they searched throughout Israel and found Abishag, a Shunamite, and brought her to the king. The girl was very beautiful; she took care of the king and waited on him, but the king had no intimate relations with her.” The gaps are easily filled in as to why she had to be a beautiful virgin.
Was that appropriate for the time? Well, there were no law against it! Would that be an appropriate treatment for today? No, but that’s how they understood medicine illness and well being at the time I’m pretty sure even an orthodox Jew would not see that as kosher.
Her’s my point, and I know I’ve made it before: We must continually understand scripture in light of current wisdom and knowledge. I know there are people who believe the sick should be anointed with oil (by the elders) as it says in James. I also know that for some this has a special, even powerful meaning. But is it mandatory? Did it have a meaning then that it does not have now? What about foot washing? There are strong examples about it’s place and meaning in the Bible. Is it mandatory? What made much of Christendom decide it was based in custom? Can it have a current significance? Yes. But by what principle was it discarded as a requirement?
Are women required to wear a veil when in church, or as some say, “A second covering”? According to Paul, in I Cor. 11ff, the woman who prayed and prophesied had to wear a veil. That was the original meaning of covering; across the face and head. Her hair was to be long, whatever long was at the time, and a man’s hair was to be short, what ever short was for that time. By what authority was it decided that was based on customary understanding and not the law of God? Do some still demand it? Yes, but not most. Why?
Just as the eunuch, once rejected is accepted, the spirit of God requires that we do not leave our understanding of God trapped in historical understanding.

Announcements: Wayne Flora
Serve Communion: Lyn Jordan
Susan Jordan
Judy McWhorter
Garrett Williams
Usher: Holly Wagner
Communion Care: Williams
Singing: Scripture:
2-Karen Branch Susan Jordan
9-Alan Beach Holly Wagner
16-Del Bolin Mark McRoy
23-Scott Blessing Mike Branch
Communion: Nursery:
2-Alan Beach Alisa Flora
9-Abraham Sirgy Connie Crites
16-Scott Blessing Holly Wagner
23-Mike Branch Joanne Elder
If you cannot serve contact Erma Williams
2- Jack Thompson 7-Megan Downing
13-Alisa Flora 20- Dillon Hogan
20-Carson McRoy 25-Rhonda McRoy
27-Martha Foy 28-Jeff Bland
30-Cathie Martin
3-Jeff & Cathie Martin
23-Gary & Jan Overstreet

CONCERNS: Jo Wagner’s sister is at home. Jamie Cole, Joni Beach’s niece deals with hydrocephalus issues. Alan Beach’s sister-in law is having health problems, as are the parents of the Beach’s. Other family members dealing with aging are Wayne Flora and Del Bolin’s mother. Donte McCadden has CF. Teryn Gaynor’s parents also have health issues. Debbie and Ray Reiss’ son-in law (brain cancer) Wayne Phlegar, Deanna McRoy, Linda .Alsup and husband, Prentice, Bill Albert, Jim Hunter, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Ray and Darnell Barns, Gil Richardson (ALS), Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder

The annual Christmas Eve Service will be on Monday evening at 6:00. More information in the next bulletin.

Those of you who attended the last Super Sunday meal could see how the improvements to the annex are coming. Even if you didn’t stay look in some time when the annex is open and see the improvements.

The Christmas tree will be up in the annex this week. Wednesday evening we will spend a little time decorating it.

Rather than having a separate party, we have been combing the annual Christmas Party with the Super Sunday meal in December. Erma has placed a sign-up sheet on the table in the foyer. More information in the next bulletin as to the menu and other items

Aside from family members who visit during the Thanksgiving holiday, we had visitors from Pottstown, Pa. Who were passing though and worshiped with us.

The Wednesday evening soup supper and Bible study is now back on track.