Saturday, January 22, 2011


The term “Godfearers” appears many times in the New Testament. Who were these people?

The term was applied by the Jews to other people, gentiles, who attended Synagogues through out the Roman world. It seems that there were a lot of these people who were not Jews but believed in the God of Israel and gave a lot of money to the Temple and the synagogues. We know that some of them were in fact Roman army officers. They were believers who did not wish to convert to the Jewish faith and submit to circumcision and the strange food laws.

In the first century there were a lot of Greek speaking scholars who had come to believe that there could only be one god and they were on a discovery quest to figure out which of the thousand of deities was that one true god. Many of them were attracted to the one the Jews worshiped with such zeal. They would attend worship service where they stood in the back of the synagogue – behind the women and children – and listen to the teachings. Very few became converts.

When Rabbi Saul of Tarsus, whose Roman name was Paul, came preaching in the synagogue and offered a way for them to convert to what was the Jewish sect of the followers of Jesus  through baptism instead of circumcision they accepted in huge numbers. The gentile Christian Church was born and the number of gentile Christians soon became greater than the number of Hebrew Christians.  The Christian Synagogue [church] spread through the Greek and Roman world.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Some Assembly Required

Quite often we received an order from a mail order company and what looked like a wonderful thing in the picture is not what we receive in the mail. The package states "Some Assembly Required" and that often involves  reading instructions and working to put things together in the correct order. I can be frustrating.

The church is a gift from God with some assembly required. The bible is our instruction book and getting all the members to assemble at one time can be frustrating. So can getting them all in the right order and to agree with one another. Sometimes it feels like all the parts just don't fit together. I guess that is way there are so many denominations.

I love my church but there are times when I wonder how the assembly will work out. It takes faith and love to make it function.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mosaic Congregations

I often take a morning stroll around Bellemeade and in the spring and summer the flowers are a colorful palette of reds, yellows, blues and greens. There is a sense of serenity in all those colors and today with snow on the ground the landscape is different but just a beautiful. God’s creation is amazingly diverse through out the seasons blending an awesome mosaic.

When I look around the Christian Church I worship with I see that it is also  a mosaic of God’s creation. Not too many years ago most congregations were monotone but today we have whites, blacks, Asians, and browns dotting the pews. It is a wonderful thing to see happening in the church.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vatican Letter Genuine

A group of Catholics who were abused by priest have been pushing for the church to come clean about the sexual abuse by its clergy. A letter from the Vatican to Irish Bishops telling them to keep the abuse secret has been discovered.
From the BBC online news: Joelle Casteix, a director of the US group Survivors' Network of Those Abused by Priests, described the letter as "the smoking gun we've been looking for".
She said investigators had long sought a document showing the Vatican "thwarting any kind of justice for victims".
"We now have evidence that the Vatican deliberately intervened to order bishops not to turn paedophile priests over to law enforcement," she told the Associated Press news agency.
"This letter shows what victims have been saying for dozens and dozens of years: What happened to them involved a concerted cover-up that went all the way to the top."
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the letter was genuine.
This is more of an issue of a human organization trying to protect itself than it is a faith issue. The two issues are however intertwined.

It is interesting to me, as a protestant clergy, that a priest I know had a sexual affair with an adult woman in his parish and was instantly defrocked. It was a violation of his oath of celibacy. Compare that with many priest who have sexual contact with young boys and they get a transfer to another parish where their history is unknown. How is it that the church did not see that as a violation of their oath of celibacy?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


There are many aspects of our lives that we guard with diligence or we should. If we are smart we lock the doors of our homes and cars and install security systems. Our computers are loaded with security and anti-virus programs. We deposit our money in a bank and keep important  papers in their safety deposit box.

Yet we will leave our hearts and spirits open to evil and become vulnerable.  It is then so easy for our peace of mind, our joy, our marriages and our finances to be co-opted before we even realize it.

We do have a spiritual security system available to us. If you open our spirits to God's Holy Spirit to warn and guide us we will be protected.  Like an anti-virus system that only works for our computer if it is on all the time, so it is with our spiritual connection. There are some who turn their spiritual volume down so low that they can not  hear the Holy Spirit warning them that evil has approached.   Daily prayer and a heart open to God is our best spiritual security.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Auctions and Yard Sales

I have enjoyed going to estate auctions and yard sales for many years. I have acquired many great deals in the process. Part of what I enjoy is the haggling over a price to get the  best deal I can.

Changes in peoples lives often require these kinds of sales and it can be difficult to part with objects that carry many memories. An elderly couple may be moving to a retirement center or nursing home. I once needed to move from a large house to a small apartment. Our stuff would not fit so we had a yard sale. Now that I am living in a house again I miss that stuff. There are mixed emotions with every item that is put up for sale or auction.  

As a pastor I have presided over a lot of funerals and I know that none of the treasures I have on this earth are going with me. Someone - either my wife or daughters will have to sort through my memories and decide to keep, sell or even give away.  Love and faith is all I will take with me all else I own will one day belong to another.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bible Books OT 46 or 39?

1000-50 BC:

The Old Testament books are written by  many authors.

 300 BC:

Rabbis translate the OT from Hebrew to Greek, a translation called the "Septuagint" (abbreviation: "LXX"). The LXX ultimately includes 46 books.

AD 30-100:

Early Christians use the Greek language Old Testament as their scriptures. 

AD 100:

Following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD Jewish rabbis meet at the Council of Jamniah and decide to include in their canon only 39 books, since only these can be found in Hebrew.

AD 400:

Jerome translates the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin (called the "Vulgate"). He knows that the Jews have only 39 books, and he wants to limit the OT to these; the 7 he would leave out are Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach [or "Ecclesiasticus"], and Baruch--he calls them "apocrypha," that is, "hidden books." But Pope Damasus wants all 46 traditionally-used books included in the OT, so the Vulgate has 46.

AD 1536:

Luther translates the Bible from Hebrew and Greek to German. He assumes that, since Jews wrote the Old Testament, theirs is the correct canon; he puts the extra 7 books in an appendix that he calls the "Apocrypha."

AD 1546:

The Catholic Council of Trent reaffirms the canonicity of all 46 books

AD 1611 

King James of England thinks Luther is correct and orders the Apocrypha left out of the new English translation presented to him for authorization.