“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 24, NO. 44 & 45 – THE EVOLUTION OF JUDEO/CHRISTIAN RELIGION
I saw in a recent Christian Chronicle that Abraham Malherbe had died. I heard him speak in 1959 while he was still a student at Harvard Divinity School, and again at Bethany Collage in the 1970s. He was a well-known Yale Divinity School scholar whose roots were in the Church of Christ. He, among other things was a contributor to the Anchor Bible Commentary series. In a 2002 interview he expressed disappointment with the Churches of Christ “cozying up to those evangelicals who put a premium on feeling at the expense of reason.” At his death he and his wife were attending the First Baptist Church in Hamden, Conn. Add to that a comment made by Carroll Osburn that doctrine doesn’t mean anything any more and you get the dilemma. That’s the rub. Religion, like everything else, changes.
Let’s take a quick trip through the Bible and see some changes. At first there wasn’t much ceremony between God and man as far as we know. Just watch what you eat. Noah comes along and is said to be a righteous man in an unrighteous world. You know that story. God made a covenant with Noah, but it did not involve much more than to go on being a righteous man with some restrictions. Then comes Abraham, and again it is about a relationship based on faith and how Abraham lived, along with a sacrifice or two, one being his son, almost. By the way, there are Jews who say that God could have made Isaac alive again if the sacrifice had been carried out. After all, he was the child of the promise.
During this time and for years afterwards, even during the time of the prophets, some Hebrews sacrificed their children to find favor with God, as did the peoples around them.
Then comes Moses, the one who will take the “no people” and make them a nation. Now there is a “tent of meeting” the tabernacle. Sacrifices are required as well as other rituals to make them different (pure) from those they had lived with for 300 years as slaves.
In time the tabernacle would give way to the temple. The rest stayed pretty much the same, with some lapses. The Ark of the Covenant and its contents would disappear without fanfare. When they were overrun, sent to exile and the temple destroyed, the synagogue was developed, which was never authorized by God in scripture. It appears in the non-canonized books between the testaments. It became the center of learning and worship, along with the temple on special days.
Even the synagogue has gone through changes. For centuries the praise was a-cappella. I talked with a fellow who almost became a rabbi and he told me the introduction of instruments of music and flowers in the synagogue was a major controversy when it was done. He also said musical instruments were only used in the temple on feast days.
Then comes Jesus. The people wanted a Messiah, a King to restore Israel’s glory. On one side the Messiah was not to die. On the other, he could be the one “by whose stripes we are healed” and”die on the tree” but he would also return as the victor (ala Revelation) and do it that way. The idea of saviors returning to continue their work can be seen in the expectation of the return of Elijah. So when Jesus died they expected a speedy return. They saw themselves as temporary and continued to gather and wait. In time Jesus did not return, so they began to build more permanent places to worship. But each generation had a feeling theirs would be the last. Time passed and more accommodations were made to keep people involved.
I’m not saying we should send in the clowns. That’s already been done, along with dog and pony shows. I have no idea what Christianity will look like eons from now. What I do see from my own lifetime is that there can be a better understanding of scripture that does not tie us to any period of time or cultural understanding. What I do believe is that no matter how Christianity looks, when it is truly Christ-like, it will be hinged on the greatest commandment. Anyone in any kind or size Christian church can live that. Without it, call it what you want, but it’s not Christian, or God-like.
CONCERNS: Rich Crites fractured a couple of vertebra. They are hoping they will heal on their own, but he is in some pain. Keith’s brother, “Doc” is having some health problems that will require therapy. The following are continuing with treatment for cancer, Connie Crites’ brother, Leena’s brother, Nick, Deanna McRoy and Sharon and Billy, friends of Del Bolin. Little Landon Cooper is doing fine after surgery to repair a hole in his heart. Martha Foy’s dad is still recovering from a second back surgery. They think her mother’s problem stems from shingles. Martha also asks for prayers for Sharon Breeding and Lauren. Ray Reiss is still recovering near his home in Texarkana from a motorcycle accident. Jenni Cullum is scheduled for hip replacement surgery, and is now pretty much using a wheelchair to get around. Her eye infection is better. Remember also Ron Matney, Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, And Tim Elder, as well as all the works we support that feeds and cares for the health and education of those in need.
OUR DAILY BREAD: DEC. 3-8
Monday: I Timothy 6:11-21
Tuesday: Psalm 119:89-112
Wednesday: Mark 2:15-3:6
Thursday: Acts 8:4-24
Friday: Hebrews 2:10-18
Saturday: I Corinthians 15:42-58
OUR DAILY BREAD: DEC. 10-15
Monday: Mark 14:26-42
Tuesday: Acts 1:1-14
Wednesday: Psalm 42:1-11
Thursday: Acts 5:17-32
Friday: Hebrews 2:10-18
Saturday: Psalm 107:1-43
As you drive into the parking lot you may notice the deadest of the big trees along Brandon Ave. has been removed by the city. In the irony of life, it was the deadest, but not the worst when it came to dropping big limbs on the parking lot and into the street. The tree cutters said they would be back to trim the dead limbs from the other trees, and remove any that are too far gone. That’s the good side. The other side is those smaller falling limbs made great kindling for the fireplace.
Even though this is being typed before the adult Christmas party, so many things are coming into place we can already thank those who helped make it possible. As always, Judy McWhorter for the menu and decorating, along with Erma Williams and others who set up the tree. To Del Bolin for being once again our Master of Ceremonies, and for all of you who came and made it the special evening it as always been.
We are so happy to have Megan and James Downing back in Roanoke. James was offered a job at Altec. They have already bought a home up Academy Street, just outside of Salem. They will be moving in sometime in January. Megan, who was a store manager for Home Goods, will be seeking work, but she would rather not work in the retail market. If you know anyone looking for a personnel manager or some other field, talk to her.
Just an early reminder that Christmas Eve falls on a Wednesday this year, so our service that evening will replace the regular Wednesday evening soup supper and Bible study.
RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE
Once again some of us prepared the Sunday evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House. Thanks to all who helped. And don’t forget to save the pull tabs.
With help from my good friend Ken Mick, here’s more on the story. The story was told by Sheldon Vanauken in his book, “A Severe Mercy” His friend, Lewis liked it. On a web-site I found, where the story was used in a sermon, the dog’s name was Gypsy and Flurry was her pup. A story retold takes on its own nature.