Roanoke Church of Christ

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    Since today is Father’s Day, I would imagine a number of sermons will be preached telling fathers how the Bible wants them to be. I guess that’s OK, except finding a father in the Bible to use as an example isn’t that easy. In fact, finding a family in the Bible to use as an example as a Godly home is just as hard. Of course, the Bible is not primarily about home life.  
    The idea of the Bible telling us how to have happy moms and dads and kids is interesting, because it seems anyone who is religious claims to know just what the answers are. I’m not saying the Bible doesn’t give sound, spiritual advice on how to live and get along with each other. I’m saying it is next to impossible, or impossible, to find a family unit in the Bible with all the right stuff.
    In West Virginia I knew a preacher who preached about how mothers should dress in modest apparel (his view, of course) for his Mother’s Day sermon. A young lady I met in WVA told me her father felt the same way, only not just on Mother’s Day. He refused to let this nineteen year old daughter cut her hair or wear any kind of makeup. His right? Yes, but she sure did it up when she left home, and religion. The Bible talks about being a holy people, we’re just not sure where those families are.
    Maybe Job is the only father in the Bible who doesn’t have a bunch of black marks on his permanent record. But I doubt you would hear any sermons on Job this morning. If there is another, make a mental list of fathers and families as they develop in scripture.
Adam? One son kills the other. Noah may not be too bad, if you overlook his drunkenness after getting out of the Ark; and maybe cursing his son, Ham, for whatever it was he did when he saw him. Of course, maybe we’d all get a little drunk after being cooped up for forty days and nights with all those animals and the kids constantly asking, “Are we there yet?!” 
    Abraham would surely come to mind, with his faith and all. But then he gives his wife away twice to save his own skin. Later, when impatience sets in for an heir, with his wife’s permission, (he should have been smarter than to believe that would work!) he fathers a child by Sara’s servant, Hagar. Then He lets Sara tell him to toss them out to fend for themselves, or die trying. Of course, as the story goes, God told Abraham to send Hagar and her son, Ishmael away, and that God would make him also a great nation. However, Hagar isn’t in on that until later. And we might excuse it because it was way back then, which is my point. So how are we going to find the right example when all that stuff wouldn’t be allowed today  as it was then?
    Look at Moses. What ever happened to his sons? They never figure in the history of Israel in any way, shape or form. The only time we see them is when they arrive with his mother to visit dad in the wilderness at the foot of “the mountain of God.” In Exodus 18:2 it says, “Now Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her away, and her two sons….” That’s the last we hear of her or them. However, in I Chron. 23 &26 the sons, Gershom and Eliezer are mentioned and are associated with the tribe of Levi. Did they go with Moses? Maybe, but Moses marries an Ethiopian woman. How’s that for family values?
    Even in the New Testament we have the same problem. We know a little about the family in Jesus’ time and what was expected of a father, though it is not spelled out in the NT. We do not know when  Jesus’ father, Joseph died. All we know is he is only mentioned in the early life of Jesus. Jesus mother will, at one point, conclude he has lost his mind about being the Messiah. (Mark 3:21) What was a family like which had the right stuff for a sermon in Jesus’ day? We don’t know. Peter seems to leave his wife and mother-in law to follow Jesus. Good? Or bad? In that time, probably OK. Today? Questionable, unless it’s military service. Even then, we don’t know what the family was like. 
    We might think of the story of the Prodigal son, and if there are sermons on being a good father on Father’s Day, that one would likely be used. However, that one won’t work. The story of the Prodigal is about the nature of God, as Father, not fathers like the rest of us. I don’t mean a good father is not forgiving or offers second chances. I mean that Jesus is describing God, and no father is like God. Godly, yes, but not perfect in love as is God., especially in this story, that in context, was about who Jesus was hanging out with.
    If any of us had a son who had done what the prodigal had done, we would expect, as well as “repentance” (a change of direction) a real change in direction. What are the child’s plans and how can we help with them. We want a change of heart. Human fathers have a right to see that a change of life has happened. But only God has the right stuff.
    That does not mean that as parents we do not love and support our children as they grow and mature, even with their failings. That’s what parents are to do. But the story of the prodigal is not about a prodigal child, it is about the amazing love of God.
    There may be no perfect father in the Bible, however, there are things said that can guide fathers. We can see the life of Jesus and his moral and ethical teaching. We can do our best, “best” is the key word, to live out our lives with honesty and integrity.
That’s a sermon for everyone who follows Jesus. 
    If a grown child is asked about a childhood memory that best described their parents, you will hear a defining word about their parents. Of course, many fathers and mothers also grow and repent (change) as they age. When the children become parents they will understand how important that is.

CONCERNS: Judy McWhorter is able to be at worship but is still recovering  from  knee surgery. Teryn Gaynor’s mother’s tumor has enlarged and is being treated. Also: Joni and Alan Beach’s fathers. Mark McRoy is asking for prays for Paul Estette  who has a rare form of cancer. Gary Overstreet, Bill Albert, Jim Hunter, Sheila  Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver,  Marjorie Wilson. Melanie Gentry. Wayne Phlegar. Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder. 

2606 Brandon Ave SW
Roanoke, Va 24015\

Steering CommitteeDel Bolin    Wayne Flora
Mike Branch   Susan Jordan
Martha Foy    Judy McWhorter

Bible Study: 9:30 AM
Sunday Worship: 10:30 AM
Wednesday Evening: 7:00

Editor/MinisterKeith Wagner

FATHER’S DAY    Happy Father’s Day to all of our Father’s. Father’s day celebrates the contribution that fathers and father figures make for their children’s lives.

SUPER SUNDAY    Today (June 16th) is Super Sunday. 
    It is also Father’s Day. Where could Dad get a better meal than right here. The Fellowship meal will be in the annex following the service.  Visitors are considered our honored quests.  Please  plan to stay.   

    The Sunday morning class is now in the book of Galatians. Come and join in. 

    Our thanks to everyone that came out to help on June 1st for  the Church Work  Day. 

NOTICE    During the hot weather the dead limbs on the tree near the main entrance to the parking lot dry out and  fall off. You can see some residue from recent limbs. Be careful when parking there especially on windy days. 

    Please come join us on Wednesday for our weekly supper and bible study.  Feeds your body and soul at 6:00 pm.  We’re studying The Corinthian letters.  There’s always room for you. 

    This is the time of year when our folks are traveling. If you are going to be away let the office know.  Please keep our church members that our traveling in you prayers.  


It were the spring of forty-four
The times were mighty poor
But I’ll never forget the day
It were the twenty-fourth of May
The day them two sinners came to church.

As they walked in and sat down near the front
You could’a heard deacon Wilson’s grunt\
Bout half way into next week
As he slid down in his seat
The day them two sinners came to church.

The feller were ol’ Tom Strunk
Commonly known as the town drunk
He smiled to the left an’ then to the right
It were really quite a sight
The day them two sinners came to church.

The other member of this unusual procession 
Were Millie, from the world’s oldest profession.
That lady of the night were there bright as day
Right there on that sunny twenty-fourth of May
The day them two sinners came to church.

Billy Bob were leadin’ the singin’
About them golden bells a ringin’
An folks were doin’ their best
To sing them songs with zest
The day them two sinners came to church.

I were thinkin’ about the communion
I knowed there be some confusion
If them sinners touched the emblems
And caused some scriptural problems
The day them two sinners came to church.

Billy Joe Hicks weren’t sure what to do
But he handed the bread to them two 
As he watched ol’ Tom Strunk
Break off a good-sized chunk
The day them two sinners came to church.

Next came the fruit of the vine 
I hoped ol’ Tom didn’t think it were wine
As he stared at the cup
Before turnin’ it up
The day them two sinners came to church.

Millie didn’t touch the plate or the tray
And kinda looked the other way
But there was a sadness on her face
As if she knowed she were out of place
The day them two sinners came to church

Elder Johnson looked fit to be tied
Wider Jones looked about to die
Preacher Herman were startin’ to tremble
While his outline he tried to assemble
The day them two sinners came to church.

We’s all lookin’ at brother Herman
To start his hell-fire sermon
The hymns had been sung
The church bell had been rung
The day them two sinners came to church.

The sermon were fiery an’ pointed
Brother Herman almost came disjointed
As he tried to reign them in
Preachin’ all about kinds of sin
The day them two sinners came to church.

It were such a powerful sermon
He had us all a squirmin’
Sweat were runnin’ under my collar
As I promised to give more than a dollar
The day them two sinners came to church.

Ol’ Tom began to nod
While Millie sat straight as a rod
Never takin’ her eyes off Brother Hermon
As she listened to that hell-fire sermon
The day them two sinners came to church

When they didn’t accept the invitation
I sensed a sigh of jubilation
They left  and never came back again
And you should’a heard that last Amen
The day them two sinners came to church.

Why they came we were never told
I reckon we treated them kinda cold
The only person with whom they spoke
Was crazy Barney Polk
The day them two sinners came to church.

Ol’ Tom died the very next summer
We heard Millie ran off with a drummer
I’m old but I aint dead yet
And you cen bet I’ll never forget
The day them two sinners came to church.

Announcements: Mike Branch
Serve Communion: Maggie Foy
                   Joanne Elder
                   Debbie Mcroy
                   Garrett Williams
Usher: Erma Williams
Communion Care:   Williams
Singing:        Scripture:
2-Karen Branch    Mark Mcroy
9-Scott Blessing    Susan Jordan
16-Del Bolin        Martha Foy
23-Scott Blessing    Connie Crites
30-Del Bolin        Judy McWhorter
Communion:        Nursery:
2-Abraham Sirgy    Alisa Flora
9-Wayne Flora    Joanne Elder
16-Scott Blessing    Holly Wagner
23-Keith Wagner    Susan Phlegar
30-Wayne Flora    Connie Crites
If you cannot serve, call Erma Williams

13-Mike Branch         13Susan Jordan
 21-Wayne Flora          29-Joni Beach  

JUNE ANNIVERSARIES1-Garrett & Erma Williams 
4-Wayne & Elisa Flora
25-Lyn & Susan Jordan
28-Dillon & Laura Hogan

 Mike Branch and Debbie McRoy

CONCERNS: Judy McWhorter is able to be at worship but is still recovering  from  knee surgery. Teryn Gaynor’s mother’s tumor has enlarged and is being treated. Also: Joni and Alan Beach’s fathers. Gary Overstreet, Bill Albert, Jim Hunter, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, Marjorie Wilson. Melanie Gentry. Wayne Phlegar. Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.    

Keith Wagner

    We were blessed with visitors. Carolee Grosen and her two granddaughters, Ruby and Sophie. Kate Utuk, a close friend of the Foys came as well.

    A plan to have a work day is June 1st, which was yesterday as the bulletin is dated. However, a tree fell behind the building during the storm on Wednesday. Since most of you receive the bulletin via email, take note. 

    The Sunday morning class is now in the book of Galatians. Come and join in. 

    Our thanks to Wayne Flora for the sermon last Sunday. Copies are available. If you want one, see Keith. 

    Thanks to Connie Crites, Joanne Elder and Holly Wagner for keeping  the flowers watered in front of the annex

    During the hot weather the dead limbs on the tree near the main entrance to the parking lot dry out and just fall off. You can see some residue from recent limbs. Be case full when parking there.

    Please come join us on Wednesday for our weekly supper and bible study.  Feeds your body and soul at 6:00 pm.  We’re studying The Corinthian letters.  There’s always room for you. 

    Congratulations to Carson McRoy who graduated from William Byrd High School with honors and is already working.


I enter the room used for worship,
The one we hesitate to call a sanctuary.
I smile at others and we exchange small Talk.
But soon I find I am confronted with myself.

I wonder about the years that have passed,
And if I made the progress I should have?
So many things have been left undone,
And dreams have faded into a fog of doubt.

It’s amazing how simple life looks when
You are young,
And how soon it takes on new complications.
What was absolutely certain and Unchangeable,
Have become uncertain and have changed.

I didn’t intend it to be this way.
I didn’t sit down and say,
“I will make this mistake.
I will let this important thing get away from Me.”
But time is the spoiler which erodes And corrodes.

I wonder how alone I am?
Do the ones who sit within my reach,
Whose singing voices I can hear,
Know the disappointments and fears I’ve Known?

The minister has just said God loves me.
Does he know anything about me?
Does he have any realization at all
As to what it would take for God to love Me?

Sometimes I wonder why I come to this Place.
I feel like a moth drawn to the flame;
A flame which is said to purify,
But seems to want to totally consume me.

What would happen if the heavens Suddenly opened
And the secrets of my life poured out?
Would the minister still say God loves me,
And would the others still smile and be Friendly?

The tears now silently slip down my Cheeks.
I wipe my eyes and notice
I have been Discovered.
Will they ask me if they can help,
Or will they think I’m a fool?

Do they realize how hopeless I feel,
How crazy it seems to keep coming to this Place;
A place of hope, a place where change is promised,
And yet each day seems worse
Than the one before?

Lord, I would seek your face.
I would look Into your eyes
And pray I would see the softness
I’ve heard is there;
And in some real way,
I might see the soul of God.

My God.
If I could just see your mouth
And Know that when I approach, you smile.
That you might even laugh with me
As I hear you say, “I love you”

Could I possibly in this moment,
Father, Reach out and take your hand?
Could I feel the very strength of God,
Given willingly to me?

Could it be,
If I looked into your eyes
And heard you tell me you do love me,
And I Touched your hand,
Would you take me in your arms like a Small child?

Father, could I leave this place today
With my hand in yours as you lead the way?
Could I know I can be just what you want Me to be?
Please Father, look at me, smile at me, touch me!


*These are a combination of thoughts I’ve felt and have also been expressed by others over the years.

Announcements: Connie Crites
Serve Communion: Lyn Jordan
Susan Jordan
Holly Wagner
Garrett Williams

Usher: Jeff Bland
Communion Care: Wayne Flora
Singing: Scripture:
5-Karen Branch Martha Foy
12-Del Bolin Marta Albert
19-Scott Blessing Joanne Elder
28-Scott Blessing Judy McWhorter
Communion: Nursery:
5-Mike Branch Susan Phlegar
12-Scott Blessing Susan Jordan
19-Abraham Sirgy Holly Wagner
28-Keith Wagner Alisa Flora

If you cannot serve, call Erma Williams

2- Jay Thompson 7-Debra McRoy
20-Sherry Bland

22- Abraham & Kathleen Sirgy
26-Delmar & Leena Bolin

Marta Albert leads this work along with Holly Wagner


CONCERNS: Judy McWhorter is still recovering from knee surgery. She had her staples removed on 5/1/19. She is now able to walk with a cane and no longer needs a walker. She will be starting out patient therapy next week. Which means she will be able to drive. Please keep her in your prayers. Teryn Gaynor’s mother’s tumor has enlarged and is awaiting a treatment plan. Also: Joni and Alan Beach’s fathers. Gary Overstreet. Bill Albert. Jim Hunter. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, Marjorie Wilson. Melanie Gentry. Wayne Phlegar. Jim and Mary Smith annd Tim Elder.

Keith Wagner

There is still work to be done around the church. Our next work Saturday is May 11th. Please join us to help make our church beautiful. There is a sign up sheet in the annex next to the entry/exit door. Can you accomplish any of the items? Is there something we missed? You can pick a project and work on your schedule also. Please make any notes, as appropriate, so all will know the status. Plans are to have a different monthly Saturday to provide a variety of opportunities for each of us to lend a hand. Next date will be June 1st.

The Sunday morning class is finishing a study of the book of Acts. Come and join in. A new study will be selected soon. It you have suggestions, come and share them.

Please come join us on Wednesday
for our weekly supper and bible study. Feeds your body and soul at 6:00 pm. We’re studying Romans. There’s always room for you.

Thanks to Connie Crites for the flowers in front of the annex. Erma was also involved as well.

Nick Bolin will Graduate this month from Virginia Tech with a Master’s Degree in History, with a Certificate in Public History.

        2019 GRADUATES
If others will be graduating this year or know someone who will, see or call Erma Williams.  


   That cross,    Stained with sins
    To painful to tell
    As it stands stark 
    Against the darkening sky;
    Pronouncing its judgement 
    To the world

    That hill,
    With its history of
    Past victims to numerous
    And shameful to tell.
    A monument to man’s
    Or inhumanity.

    That hand 
    With fingers extended.
    Then clinched tight,
    Almost obscuring the nail
    Driven deep into the palm.
    Beads of sweat dot the face
    Of this dying man.

    That head
    Hanging heavily,
    Swaying from side to side;
    Its thorny crown
    Grotesque against the sun.
    From the heaving chest 
    Come the sighs of death.

    That face,
    Eyes tightly shut.
    Then wide open;
    As though seeking
    A comforting word.
    The tongue wets the lips
    Against the fever.

    That man,
    Hanging on that cross
    Hears the weeping,
    The scornful laughter,
    Tastes the hyssop  
    As a voice from somewhere
    Says he was a son of God.

    That peace,
    The rest of death.
    When pain and time stops.
    Life is over.
    It is finished.
    Its purpose fulfilled.

    That tomb,
    Dark and foreboding;
    Mouth gaping wide,
    Ready to consume its 
    First guest.
    Ashes to ashes 
    Dust to dust.

    That stone,
    Rolled into place.
    The grave has its prize.
    Now sealed tightly against     
    Intruders and even God.    Now things can return
    To normal.

    That moment,
    A stirring.
    Life surges in.  
    Arms and legs
    Stretch as if from sleep.
    The stone resists,
    But begins to move.

    That morning,
    A bird sings,
    As  the first rays of sunlight
    Kiss the spring flowers
    Near the open tomb. 
    Footprints in the dew
    Lead to a risen Savior.


CONCERNS: Judy McWhorter had knee replacement surgery last week. She us doing fine. Debbie McRoy will not have surgery. No blockage was found in Doug Bolin’s heart. Doug is Del’s brother. However, he still has a problem. These people are dealing with cancer: Teryn Gaynor’s mother (her husband has advanced Parkinson’s). Jeff Bland’s mother, Patricia.  Ray Barns, (his wife, Darnel also so has heath problems) Judy Powell and Harold Clark. Former members, Ray and Debbie Reiss’ son-in-law, David. Deanna McRoy, Debbie McRoy’s cousin, Linda Alsup and husband, Prentice. Others to remember are the parents of Joni and Alan Beach and Wayne Flora. Joni Beach’s niece, Jamie Cole. Gary Overstreet, Jim Hunter, Bill Albert, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Donte McCadden (CF) Marjorie Wilson, Tim Elder, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, and Melanie Gentry 
    On Saturday, April 13, at 1:45 AM, Lucas James Downing arrived in this world. He weighed in at 6lbs, 14oz and 19 inches long.
    Needless to say, James and Megan are proud as punch, as are grandparents and extended family. Lucas is the first Great-grandchild of Keith and Jo Wagner. 

    Jonathan Densby and his family are with us once again. He will be teaching the  adult class and presenting the morning sermon. Jonathan is one of the men the steering committee is interviewing to become the minister as Keith retires. Be sure to meet the family today.

    There will be an Easter egg hunt following the morning service. It will take place in the yard behind the annex. Holly Wagner will give the go signal. Children should meet her at the back door of the building. This is for all preschool children.

    Today, April 21, is Super Sunday. Plan to stay for the fellowship meal following the morning service. If you haven’t met the Dansby’s, this would be a good time.

    Thanks to everyone who came out on the work day. You may also notice as you come into the building that the landings and porches have been resurfaced as well as the side walks power-washed.Erma and Garrett Williams and Wayne Flora painted lines on the parking areas.

    Vivian Dugan will be away longer than she expected due to Cathie and Jeff traveling.


   At some point in my ministry I became more and more fascinated with the person of Jesus. Much of my church life had left me with a view of him as an antheral, otherworldly type, with just enough humanity to keep him on the ground. I think  leaving that view in people’s minds is an insult to the man he was.
   Therefore, I want to stretch our thinking by looking at what Jesus did know, what he did not know, and what he seems to say he wanted.
    What did he not know? We are told in Luke 2 that he “grew in wisdom and stature.” In Matthew, Mark and Luke say when asked about what Jesus warns is coming, he replies that no one knows, including him. Only the Father knows. These warnings, read carefully, refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in AD 70. Even though Jesus could see the storm clouds forming, even he did not know the exact time. If you insist on extending these verses to the end of time, the result is still the same. In Hebrews it says Jesus “learned by the things he suffered.”
    What did he know? He knew the will (reign/kingdom) of God was to come on the earth. He prayed, “May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” He said in Lk. 4, quoting Isaiah, that the spirit of the Lord was on him and had anointed him to preach good news to the poor, freedom for prisoners, sight to the blind, release the oppressed and proclaim it was the year of the Lord’s favor. In Lk.11:20, he said if he cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of god was here. What does it appear he wanted? For God’s will to be done on earth and that he was here to make it happen.
    Did he want to overthrow Rome by force? No. He said the kingdom of God was like a mustard seed which grew quietly. He said the kingdom was like yeast, which also worked from the inside. He said the kingdom was inside of us. And yet, he often does things which seem to be forming an army of resistance. When he fed the five thousand men in Mk.6, he had them sit in groups of fifty and a hundred, which was the way troops were divided. When he feeds the multitude in Jn 6, the crowd saw this as sign that he was the to led them as a military king.
    When he looked at Jerusalem and said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often have I longed (wanted) to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing”, did he mean it? (Mt.23.37) Did he come to try, or to die trying?  Did he know it was hopeless, or did he think he might have a chance? 
    From where we stand, we have a hard time imagining he believed he could bring about the will of God on earth. But all through his life and teaching, he taught about how the will (kingdom) of God was supposed to be…on earth. 
   He knew, as all the prophets before him, that God’s will for the earth was not about military force. I haven’t done an exhaustive search, but I can’t find a prophetic book that says war will restore God’s will in Israel. All of them speak of mercy and justice, in one way or another. Jesus know the Messianic goal was as a reformer. Someone to whom the people would listen to and follow. He also knew all prophets suffered for their message, sometimes even dying. Did they hope they would be heard, or did they know they would fail? Why do it if you know it will make no difference. The joke on Jonah is that he wanted to fail at Nineveh, but succeeded. The irony of that story should not be lost on us.
    As for me, looking at the man Jesus, I think from what I read, that he hoped the Jews would listen, and that from Jerusalem to the rest of the world, the will of God on earth would be spread, as the prophets like Isaiah and others had said.  As his story unfolds, for awhile, thousands believed his message. At some point, however, as was the result of all reforming prophets, he saw the cross as a possibility if he kept on proclaiming the will of God. Should he give up? Should anyone give up because they reach the place they know they may not complete the work to be done? That’s not the way we move forward. Jesus may have come to the place he knew God’s will would not be complete in his lifetime. But he never stopped trying to bring it about. In fact, he realized that it takes the supreme sacrifice to make it happen.
    Will the will of God succeed? It’s up to us.
Keith is starting his retirement, but will be working part time during the transition period as the church decides future plans. Therefore, following issues of the bulletin may contain reprints from years past. This will mean some changes in the mailing list.

Announcements: Mike Branch
Serve Communion: Connie Crites
            Joanne Elder
            Martha Foy
            Garrett Williams
Usher: Erma Williams
Communion Care: Blessings
Singing:         Scripture:
7-Del Bolin        Martha Albert
14-Scott Blessing    Mark McRoy
21-Karen Branch    Debbie McRoy
28-Del Bolin        Susan Jordan
Communion:        Nursery:
7-Abraham Sirgy    Susan Phlegar
14-Wayne Flora    Susan Jordan
21-Abraham Sirgy    Holly Wagner
28-Keith Wagner    Connie Crites
If you cannot serve, call Erma Williams
23-Maggie Foy    25-Del Bolin

CONCERNS: Jeff and Sherry Bland have had flu-like symptoms.  Debbie McRoy has back surgery in the near future. Those are suffering from cancer and under treatment are Judy Powell and Harold Clark, (Jo Wagner’s  sister and cousin), Ray Barns, (pray for his wife, Darnell) Teryn Gaynor’s mother, (Teryn’s step-father has advanced Parkinson’s). Ray and Debbie Reiss’ son-in law, David. Debbie McRoy’s cousin’s husband, Prentice Alsup, and Deanna McRoy. Others with health issues are Jim Hunter, Jamie Cole,(Joni Beach’s niece) Donte McCadden, a CF patient, The parent(s) of Wayne Flora, The Beach’s and Del Bolin. Gary Overstreet, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Remember, Amber was paralyzed in an accident years ago and cannot speak. Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

    (State Farm is used only as an example) A pine tree from our property fell on a neighbor’s swing set up on Laburnum. They called to see what we could do. As you may know, it’s “An act of God” which means nobody is responsible according to insurance companies. Wayne Flora went to the home and with the owners help, cut up the tree. Thanks Wayne. You were like a good neighbor, you were there..

    Our own Bonnie Blessing took home the first prize ribbon for the Viewers Choice Award at the Burgland Center Quilt Show. Each attendee was given material in which a slip of paper was to show the most liked. Bonnie’s won. It was a four year project with about 7,400 hand-stitched pieces. Way to go Bonnie!

                                                        JONATHAN DENSBY RETURNING
    The Steering Committee has invited Jonathan and his family to return. He will be speaking on Easter Sunday, March, 21.
    The steering committee needs feedback from the congregation about Jonathan. If you were not hear when he spoke last time, it can be heard on the church face Book page.

                                                         SPRING CLEAN-UP DAY
    We are looking at a date this month for a clean-up day at the building. April 20, or some later date is suggested.
    Alisa Flora is in Alabama, visiting with her sister, Melanie. She will return this week.
    Easter falls on Super Sunday this year. Plan to stay for the fellowship meal following Jonathan’s sermon.


Jed Clampett used to say that when he referred to something dim-witted second cousin Jethro Bodine said or did.
I found those words floating through my mind as I looked at a copy of Does God Exist, a quarterly published by John Clayton. Clayton is one of the best among the Churches of Christ in making science and religion compatible and relevant. He has no problems saying he believes in evolution.
Evolution meaning: “An unfolding type of change.” Everything evolves. Science, Business, education, even theology. And that last one is the rub. This has caused Clayton to be branded by some in the C of C.
He tells of not long ago receiving a call from an 80-year-old retired science teacher and widow of an elder, who had taught Sunday School with a half-century experience of teaching children, who was told she could no longer teach because, in her words, “You aren’t much of a Christian because you believe in evolution.” Then, not much later another woman called and said she had been removed from teaching her second grade Sunday School class because, “You believe in science.” “Holy Charles Darwin, Batman! Are we still in the dark ages?!” Or, as Jed Clampett would say, “Pediful! Pediful!”
Such an attitude toward science from religious circles comes partly from refusing to understand scripture within its historical and literary context.
Psalm 139:13 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” To say, as some do, that this means God selects the sex and personality of every person, is to say what it does not say. It is a poetic way of giving God the glory for one’s life. Neither does Psalm 51:5 teach that we are born sinners. The Psalm, traditionally accredited to David after his adultery with Bathsheba, says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Is this a direct quote from God? No. This is David reflecting on his sin and expressing his deep remorse, so much so that he sees himself “bad to the bone!” God never said that, nor did Jesus.
Perhaps the things said about Judas come to mind. If you believe he was created to betray Jesus and had no choice, then give him a break. He did what he was created to do. He fulfilled the will of God. Name your next kid Judas.
However, these and other such examples fall into the literary context. The Gospels were written after the Epistles.
Jesus died, rose from the dead (defeating the last enemy) and ascended. The Gospels are told from that context. Therefore, salvation from sin and death came from all of the pieces falling into place. Without those elements, the story of salvation falls apart. Therefore, in its own way, it is the will of God. Could Jesus have turned away from the cross? Yes. In fact, it is in his refusal to escape the cross that he reveals the love and grace of God. His death and resurrection changed everything.
It’s the things which fall into the poetic context that cause some to reject science. To take poetry and say it means God develops each person like an individual knitting project is to misunderstand and misuse scripture. To understand human birth and development, we need to look at science. Evolving science has brought us from believing that children born with a birth defect is a curse from God, to understanding in most cases, the root cause. The tragedy of religion gone wrong is that in some areas even today, children born with something as simple as a cleft pallet are seen as cursed by God.
The fear of the advancement of human knowledge (science) has historical roots in religion. Perhaps, among scriptures about God’s thinking and man’s thinking, is the story of Eden, where it appears that humans try to become God. It messed up everything. Just about every venture into scientific discovery has been seen by some as an attempt to become God.
I can remember when I was in early grade school, seeing one of those National Enquire-type magazines proclaiming in fearful type, “Test-tube Babies Are Coming!” At that age I was having enough trouble with where babies came from without replacing the stork with a test-tube!
What I’m saying is this; let’s give God a break and stop blaming him for everything we don’t understand that goes wrong. “Wrong” is a relative term. What we may see as wrong in the beginning, can become a blessing (a right) when we look back on it. This is often true in the case of a child born with an affliction. However, while we may become thankful, the affliction was caused by physiological reasons. Children born with two sets of reproductive organs are said to be the result of a mix up in the chromosomes at a critical point of development. It is science that helps us to understand and deal with what some religions would say is the will of God.
Any advancement of science that alters the accepted “natural” flow of life is often seen as an affront to God. We sing that God is the “Ruler of all nature” but we dam up rivers to produce irrigation and electricity. We build flood walls to hold back water from its “natural” flood course.
We alter biology by cross-breeding of plants and animals. But when it comes to humankind we feel we are imposing on God. The Bible was used to make black/white marriage illegal for years.
Is it possible to upset human development and create Frankinstiens? Who knows. What about cloning? I know of a lawyer who had the DNA from a son who died young stored, hoping to clone him so he could have the chance at life he failed to have. These are issues where faith and science need to come together.
Faith in God can help by maintaining the sanctity of life while not misusing scripture in any way. We can stand in awe of the knowledge that is part of our God-given creative nature. We have come this far, and with wonder and reverence, continue for as long as life lasts.

CONCERNS: Jim Hunter had to have more of his foot remove due to diabetes. Debbie McRoy will be scheduled for back surgery in the coming weeks. Her cousin, Linda Alsup has health issues and her husband, Preston is being treated for cancer. Judy McWhorter had a bout with bronchitis last week. Teryn Gaynor had the flu last week. Those being treated for, or recovering from cancer are: Ray Barns, (pray also for his wife, Darnell) Judy Powell, Harold Clark (Jo Wagner’s sister and a cousin) Teryn Gaynor’s mother, (also her step-father has Parkinson’s) Former members, Ray and Debbie Reiss’ son-in-law, David and Deanna McRoy. Donte McCadden, a CF patient, Jamie Cole, Joni Beach’s niece. The aging parents of Wayne Flora, the Beach’s and Del Bolin. Continue to pray for Gary Overstreet, Jim Hunter, Bill Albert, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Tim Elder and Jim and Mary Smith.
We welcome today, Jonathan Dansby and his family. Jonathan comes to us from Duke University, where he will graduate in May with a Master of Divinity Degree. He is the first minister speaking with the steering committee and the church concerning the position of pulpit minister.

Today is also Super Sunday. The fellowship meal in the annex will follow the morning service. Plan to stay and get to know Jonathan and his family.

On Sunday, March 31, we will have the annual visit by a representative from the Gideon’s Int. A short presentation will be made before the scheduled service, and he will be taking a retiring offering after the service in the foyer.

It has been decided that the Bulletin will continue to be printer bi-monthly. The middle of the month issue will contain an article which will continue to fill the inside, with the front and back carrying the concerns and the news. The last-of-the month bulletin will contain an article as well as the list of those who will be serving the congregation, along with a list of birthdays and anniversaries.

Last Sunday, Andy Todd visited with us. He is with the Food and Drug Administration. He has a girl friend in Cincinnati, and visits her when he can.


When I was in high school, living in a home with no air-conditioning, in the early morning hours of summer when I wanted to sleep, the strains of “Ah Sweet Mystery of life at last I’ve found thee. Ah at last I know the secrete of it all” pierced my brain. It came from an aspiring singer a few houses away, who also had no air-conditioning. She would sing it over and over honing what I suppose was a rich, operatic voice. I use that as an introduction to the article for no other reason than it still reverberates in my brain when I think of the mystery of life. So lets take a little journey in life’s mystery.
What if the Pharaoh of Egypt who honored Joseph would have put out an edict which said, “From this day forward and forevermore, the house of Joseph shall be a welcome and protected people in our land. It is and let it be so”. As you know, instead “there arose a Pharaoh in Egypt who did not know Joseph.” We can understand that, being that the Hebrews had been there about 400 years. But what if they had been protected by law? What if there was no need for an exodus?
What if, under this new idea they were protected and multiplied and in time out-numbered the Egyptians? Since they had been in Egypt all those years they had only a legendary attachment to the God of Jacob and Joseph.
According to the little research I’ve done, their religion was a mixture of Abrahamic oral tradition and Egyptian practices during that 400 years. What if the fertile crescent of Egypt looked more “promising” than the land of Canaan? The small detail of an edict of protection (citizenship) could have changed the course of history.
So what? We can’t change history, but history can change us. We can learn from the mistakes and ignorance of the past. As the saying goes, if we don’t we’re bound to repeat them.
For some, the great mystery of life is if life is preordained, or haphazard? It is easy for some to say it is all planned by God to the last detail. Say, for example, the question of how long you are going to live and how you will die? Does God know? What does the “all Knowing”, the omniscience of God mean?. I have no comfort in believing that God knows how and when I’m going to die. Why? Because I don’t know, and I don’t have any information about it , nor do I want to. The only persons I know who know how and when they are going to die are those about to be executed, or terminally ill. Were I such a person I would have little comfort in believing it was the unchanging will of God. So if God knows, it does me no good. The comfort comes from knowing I will have lived with meaning and purpose, and trusting God to be loving.
I’m not talking about people having near death experiences or second chances. I’m talking about believing God planned, and therefore, causes everything to happen in a life.
Our response to the nature of God is to say things like, “God allows.” Really? How do we know that? Because if it happens, and does not fit within our comprehension we have to explain it in some way. Saying something happens without God causing it seems to somehow diminish God.
Does it diminish God to believe in a world (or universe) designed to operate within certain laws, and that humankind exists in relationship with those laws, and suffers when those laws are broken? We see evidence of that every time we look at history and even today.
The intervention of God into life is a mystery, compounded by its “beyond our controlness.” But to live as though God moves with us, rather than preordaining every happening, gives me a relationship where I can be thankful for life and accept the painful things as part of having that life. But it also means eliminating as much of that pain and suffering as I can, and helping others to do so. And in so doing, believing that is the work of God, and not the undoing of God’s will.
Everything is in hindsight. We cannot change history. All we can do is change the present. We build on both the ignorance and wisdom of the past, while believing there is a purpose and power beyond us which inspires us to dream big dreams and overcome great barriers as we reach out to the meaning of being made in the image of God. And that is God’s predetermination. The rest is up to us.

Announcements: Wayne Flora
Serve Communion: James Downing
Megan Downing
Susan Jordan
Lynn Jordan
Usher: Mark McRoy
Communion Care: Holly Wagner
Singing: Scripture:
3-Scott Blessing Judy McWhorter
10-Alan Beach Connie Crites
17-Del Bolin Martha Foy
24-Karen Branch Holly Wagner
31-Alan Beach James Downing
Communion: Nursery:
3-Abraham Sirgy Susan Jordan
10-Scott Blessing Susan Phlegar
17-Keith Wagner Holly Wagner
24-Mike Branch Connie Crites
31-Wayne Flora Holly Wagner
If you cannot serve, call Erma Williams

3.Vivian Dugan 5-Bonnie Blessing
12-Buster McRoy 13-Bill Albert
29-James Downing 31-Erma Williams
10-Alan & Joni Beach
19-Bill & Martha Albert

CONCERNS: Debbie McRoy is going to have back surgery as soon as it can be arranged. Jim Hunter will have to have more of his foot removed due to diabetes. Mark Floyd, a friend of Judy McWhorter’s fell from a horse and had to have brain surgery. The Reiss’ son, David is still being treated for brain cancer. Joni Beach’s niece, Jamie Cole will have brain tests at UA Birmingham. Ray Barns had an adverse reaction to chemo and they are seeking alternative treatments. Keep his wife, Darnell in prayer as well. Remember also Deanna McRoy, Debbie McRoy’s cousin Linda Alsup and husband, Prentice who has cancer. Others dealing with cancer are Teryn Gaynor’s mother, Judy Powell and Harold Clark (Jo Wagner’s sister and a cousin) The parents of Wayne Flora, The Beach’s fathers and Del Bolin’s mother. Donte McCadden (cf) Wayne Phlegar, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Jim and Mary Smith Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry and Tim Elder.

As Keith moves closer to retirement, the bulletin will be published monthly, rather than bi-monthly. The weekly handout will contain news and notifications. Other needed information between bulletins will go out via email.
From Megan & James Downing: “A big, heartfelt thank-you to everyone who attended the baby shower yesterday. (2/23) We are so excited to start this new adventure, and cannot wait for Luke to meet our wonderful church family. Your love, support, and prayers have meant so much to us and we are extremely grateful. All our love, Megan and James Downing
On Super Sunday 3/17 Jonathan Dansby will be speaking. He will teach the adult class as well. Jonathan is a prospect to replace Keith. He will graduate from Duke this may.
Keith’s retirement will be somewhat gradual. The first changes will take place in April when he only preaches twice a month. This will decrease in time as the search for a new minister proceeds. When the new minister comes, he will do the office duties he ha s done since Wilma Cullum retied tow days a week. How long this will continue depends on several factors.
Jim Hunter is waiting for a hospital room. Martha can’t be with Bill at the lake and Jim here in town. Jim has a god support group, but there are times when a little extra would help. He is confined to the upstairs while at the Skylark house. He can use rides to the doctor, as well as daily needs. His phone # is 540-797-8030. Call and if you go to the house he will tell you how to get in.
Vivian Dugan will be will her other daughter until May 1.


    I don’t like “cherry-picking” scriptures. That’s when a point is being made, even a legitimate  one, and to enforce it, an out of context scripture is attached. The problem is that in so doing, both the point and the scripture is weakened. The point is either valid or not, and tagging on a scripture that is out of context, damages both.
    Preachers are as bad as anyone,  and they shouldn’t be. That is not to say what they are talking about is baseless, just that attaching a scripture to it does not make it any more authentic, and if the scripture is out of context, the point becomes questionable. 
    A week or so ago a local minister dropped by to say hello. (Not a CofC preacher) As we were talking the phone rang. I let it ring through, telling him it was probably a call for money, or some other help. It was, because as soon as the answering machine came on they hung up. I said I supposed he got those kind of calls. He said yes, but the ones that bothered him were the ones where the people showed up at church services. I told him we had a little of that, but generally it was people who came to the office. I said I’d heard a lot of different stories. At that point his eyebrows raised and I almost knew what he was going to say. He said, “Well, the Bible says he who will not work shall not eat.” He then pointed out how it was wrong to help people who would not work. I told him of some of the people who come seeking help and asked if he knew any place that would hire the likes of them with, say, no public transportation available or decent clothing. The discussion more or less ended there.
    I agree we should not cater to freeloaders, my problem is that he felt the scripture he used sealed it in stone. It’s in II Thess. 2:10, where Paul says, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” Context.  Thessalonians deals with the expected return of the Lord. At the end of  I Thessalonians Paul deals with the issue of when the Lord will return and who will be with him. In 4:14 it says it will be those who have “fallen asleep in him.” In v. 15 he says “…we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left til the coming of the Lord, will certainly not proceed those who have fallen asleep.” In 5:14 he urges them to “warn the idol”. II Thessalonians continues to deal with, among other things, the same issue. He ends with, “…keep away from every brother who is idol and who does not live according to the teaching you received from us. (3:6) He then reminds them that they (he)  worked for their food. Meaning they were not idol, but paid for their food, even if they had the right to be fed. (v. 9) Then he says the man who will not work  shall not eat.  In v. 11 he refers to the non-workers as “busybodies”.
    Context: Those who were not working were members of the church, brothers and sisters. Had they never worked? Or were they now waiting for the return of the Lord and expecting, for some reason, to be fed by the church?  Were they the ones who were causing confusion about the coming of the Lord? What was the “teaching” they were ignoring?  We don’t know. What we do know is they were called “brothers” who had stopped working and expected the others to feed them.
    Are we to assume that no one in Thessalonica would give them a handout? There are some things we do not know, but what we do know is they were part of the church. If the church found itself in a similar situation today, and I have no idea what that would be, could it react the same? Yes. 
    I’ve mentioned before that Jesus teaches without backing it up with scripture. “By what authority does he do this?” A thing is good or bad, true or not by itself. When he said “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is talking you to court…”, he didn’t back it up with a scripture. (Matt 5:25,26) Is it a true statement without a scripture? Of course.
    If I told you that I was God’s son because the Bible said so, how would you react? You would ask me where I got such an idea. If I said in Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22, you would say those words were spoken to and about Jesus, and you’d be right. They are there, but only about Jesus in that context.
    I saw a scripture sited the other day which was used to prove the beginning of human life. It was Jeremiah 1:5.  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to all the nations.” Context: This is God telling Jeremiah that he had been set apart before he was born. It is no more about every person than God’s words to Jesus being God’s son being about all people. Or because Paul was a “Chosen instrument” (Acts 9:15), that we all chosen instruments as well.  
    Issues  about wealth, poverty, life,  death and the environment are important for every human being. Misusing scripture only makes the argument look weak.

Announcements: Wayne Flora
Serve Communion: Maggie Foy
            Susan Jordan
            Lyn Jordan
            Garrett Williams
Usher: Erma Williams
Communion Care: Connie Crites
Singing:        Scripture:
3-Alan Beach        Martha Foy
10-Karen Branch    James Downing
17-Del Bolin        Judy McWhorter
24-Scott Blessing    Susan Jordan
Communion:        Nursery:
3-Scott Blessing    Connie Crites
10-Mike Branch    Susan Jordan
17-Abraham Sirgy    Holly Wagner
24-Wayne Flora    Holly Wagner
If you cannot serve, call Erma Williams
5-Wayne Phlegar    15-Steve Gaynor
25-Karen Branch    28-Nick Bolin
19-Buster & Debra McRoy

CONCERNS: Debbie McRoy is recovering from an injured back. Others in Debbie’s family with health problems are a cousin, Linda Alsup and her husband, Prentice. Jo Wagner’s sister, Judy Powell may have to reenter the hospital for cancer treatment. Jo’s cousin, Herald Clark has lung cancer. Teryn Gaynor’s mother is once again in cancer treatment and her step-father is having Parkinson’s issues. Remember Del Bolin’s mother, Alan Beach’s father and Joni Beach’s father. A CF patient friend of Holly Wagner’s, Dante McCadden and his wife and children. Bill Albert is recovering from a back injury. Ray and Debbie Reiss’ son-in-law (brain cancer) Among the shut-ins are Wayne Phlegar, Jim and Mary Smith. Also Sheila Jansen and Daughter, Amber Weaver Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Ray and Darnell Barns and Tim Elder
    The Wednesday evening soup supper and Bible study has been disrupted due to several factors the last two weeks. With the severe cold appearing to be past, we look forward to regular services for a least awhile.

    With all of our number who were gone last Sunday, we were blessed with visitors from the area. Pray that they will come back. With regard to that, a ride may be needed for one of them. They live in the Colonia Rd, Ogden Rd area. The ride will be just for worship. Let Keith know if you can help with that.

    The Steering Committee will be talking to several people about doing some painting and repairs around the building Due to the cooler weather, such things as outside painting will have to wait awhile, but some other things can and will be scheduled
    You may have read about the Soup for Seniors drive. This notice is rather soon, because it will end on Saturday, Feb. 9th. That means you will have to remember to bring it next Sunday and it will be delivered on Monday. Items needed are soups (low sodium),peanut butter, crackers and individual breakfast packages. See on line for a longer list.  As you know, we have a food pantry here at the annex. It is stocked by individual contributions and is available for those who are in need who come by the office.


   I need to find zippier titles for my articles. If I saw this one I’d probably not read it. BORING! But boring is all I have, so here it is.
    First of all, no one comes to the Bible, or any other study without prejudice. Even if they’d never read it, or heard of it
    The Bible is book of history and ethics, among other things, such as the concept of God, or for clarity, a divine being. As far as we know there has never been an exclusively atheistic culture. Atheists? Yes. But not a culture where every member was an atheist. If I’m wrong, please inform me.
    As the apostle Paul says in Romans 22:14, which is one of the most significant passages in scripture, “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” (Italics and bold mine. kw)
    Simply put, Paul says what every anthropologist says: All human groups have rules of conduct which are, at the center, the same. They are not religious, but a part of human nature, important for survival and constructive living.
    Accepting Paul as being true, no matter what background a person originates, they come with ideas about what is right and wrong, regardless their belief in God, gods, nature, animals or whatever. The core ethic of the group is accepted and if that core “law” is broken, judgement occurs by the group.
    On the other hand, nothing is that simple. Are there different interpretations of the laws? Yes, and that can be seen in the Jewish law found in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament. The Ten Commandments are the foundation, the rest is commentary. Therefore, the Jew understands God through the law of Moses. However, the application of that law varied among Jews both ancient and modern, i.e. reformed and orthodox. 
    What about Christians? They all read,  generally, from the same Bible. However, do the Amish, Quakers, Mennonites and others with  pacifistic views of God, respond the same way the “second amendment” Christians do toward the same Bible? Obviously not. 
    Why not? Because each of them has brought the influence of family,  teaching and experience to the Bible. Therefore, the Bible is understood through the lens of those things. 
    Everyone does it. Is it set in stone? No. But moving away from deep-seated ideas is difficult. We might look at the violence toward Paul and the others who welcomed the Gentiles into equality with God. It was the Jews (who had the same law and the prophets) who wanted to stop and even kill Paul for such an understanding of God. The violence of the Reformation Period is a more modern example.
    The Bible is often linked to nationalism. When that happens the Bible is understood to support a certain government, and all other governments are ungodly. Of course, scripture is used to support it, as it is in other similar situations.
    Here’s a question: How many times did an Old testament teacher or prophet quote the law of Moses to prove a point? There may be more, but Malachi 4:4 is about it. What did they use to guide Israel? In every Prophetic letter they use the core value of loving God and the neighbor as oneself. The whole standard of righteousness was (and is) based on that single principle.  When that principle was lost, the nation of Israel was condemned. That’s why over and over again the prophets said all the religious rituals  and sacrifices meant nothing without the core righteousness.  
    So it is today. The core hasn’t changed. In fact it’s in the “nature” of humankind. Did the Jews, with all the prophets and experiences get it right? Once in awhile, maybe. But mostly they were getting it wrong. But, over and over we can read of the “remnant.” Others, not even Jews, who held the core enough to have the acknowledgment of God. In Amos 9:7 Amos has God saying, “Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor (Crete) and the Arameans from Kir?” Something in them caused God to rescue them. 
    In I Kings 19:18 Elijah is told of 7,000 Israelites who have not bowed to Baal. What does it mean? It means that no matter what book or Bible we read, we get it wrong when the core meaning of love of God and our fellow humans is not how we understand the world. Which means a lot of us are getting it wrong. But our faith and hope is that the “remnant” is getting it right, and that as always, they hold the world together when the rest of us don’t, for God’s sake.
Announcements: Connie Crites
Serve Communion: James Downing
                   Megan Downing
            Holly Wagner
            Joanne Elder
Usher: Mark McRoy
Communion Care: Blessings
Singing:        Scripture:
6-Karen Branch    Martha Foy
13-Scott Blessing    Mark McRoy
20-Del Bolin        Martha Albert
27-Alan Beach    Holly Wagner
Communion:        Nursery:
6-Mike Branch    Susan Phlegar
13-Wayne Flora    Susan Jordan
20-Abraham Sirgy    Holly Wagner
27-Scott Blessing    Alisa Flora
If you cannot serve, call Erma Williams
5-Alan Beach        8-Anna Ferrell
17-Jim Smith        Abraham Sirgy
22-Logan McRoy    28-Keith Wagner
31-Martha Albert

CONCERNS: Debbie McRoy injured her back and has been unable to get out. She may need surgery. Other’s in Debbie’s  family who have health issues are a cousin, Linda Alsup, and her husband, Prentice. Jo Wagner’s cousin, Herald Clark has lung cancer. He is in North Carolina. Her sister, Judy Powell, is stable at this time. Remember Alan Beach’s father and the rest of the family in the death of Alan’s mother. Also Joni Beach’s dad and Del Bolin’s 
mother. Teryn Gaynor’s parents are dealing with health problems. Her mother is again being treated for cancer. Dante McCadden is suffering from CF. Bill Albert is recovering from a back injury. Ray and Debbie Reiss’ son-in-law is being treated for brain cancer.  Others are Wayne Phlegar, Jim and Mary Smith, Jim Hunter, Sheila Jansen and Daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjory Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Ray and Darnell  Barns, Gil Richardson (ALS) and Tim Elder

    We were saddened to learn of the death of Alan Beach’s mother, Margaret , died on December 23, in Travelers Rest, SC.
The family asked that memorials in her honor be made to The Churches of Christ Relief Fund. Such a donation was sent.

    The work in the annex has been mentioned a lot lately because it is becoming such a nice change. The fans are operational now and will provide the needed air circulation when the building is crowded during hot weather. Thanks to Mike Branch for leading the way in this work.

    Due to colds and other illness, along with the holidays, we have canceled the Wednesday evening  service lately. Things 

are looking better now and we hope to see you this coming Wednesday for the continued study of the Gospel of John.

    The annual report from Health Talents International is on the foyer table. Take a look at it before it is placed on the downstairs bulletin board.

    Thanks to Susan Jordan for arraigning the service last Sunday which contained the history behind some of the hymns we sing. Also to those who read and to Scott Blessing for leading the songs.
    The family we helped with Christmas sends their thanks. The mother will put some pictures on FaceBook and they will be shared with the congregation.


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.