Dessert Luncheon will be on Wednesday, September 7th at 1:00 p.m. Luncheons are on the first Wednesday of each month. All the ladies of FCC are invited!
September 18th at 4:00 p.m.
New groups are forming. Sign up in the lobby!
He is a weary prophet, weary of the people’s short-sightedness. Why do they not see? Why do they not understand? It is as though his oracles go in one ear and out the other.
He should go for a stroll outside among the people. This often helps because they really do like him, and they are eager to hear him speak. Their greetings tell him so.
But today, everywhere he goes, he sees idols — or so it seems. They seem to jump out at him from every house. Even after all these years, idols of Bel and Nebo are still popular in Israel.
He should have recognized that a new oracle (a sermon-like proclamation) was forming deep within his soul. Oracles are a thing of the soul, not of the mind. This was the reason for all his brooding.
When finally he did speak, this is part of what the people heard (Isaiah chapter 46). By the time these words reached human ears, it is God speaking:
“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, you who have been borne by me from birth and have been carried from the womb; even to your old age I will be the same. And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you.
“Those who lavish gold from the purse and weigh silver on the scale hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; they bow down, indeed they worship it. They lift it upon the shoulder and carry it; they set it in its place and it stands there. It does not move from its place.”
Here, in a nutshell, in these words of Isaiah, we find the truth about idolatry and why it is to be avoided: that God has formed us, not we him, as idol-makers form their idols; and that God carries us, not we him, as do the people carry their idols from place to place.
Do the words against idolatry, found in the second commandment and in Isaiah’s oracle, have any relevance today, or are they a hazy concern about something long past? Certainly, idolatry is not a part of our age. We have no idols that we can look upon with worshipful adoration and a deep, abiding love. Or do we?
It’s called bibliolatry. It occurs when a high regard and a deep commitment to the Bible begin to rise to the level of devotion and commitment due God alone, when the Bible is given equality with God, deified, as though it is a part of God’s nature rather than a part of God’s revelation.
It’s seen when we extend the kind of devotion to the Bible that Israel extended her idols all those generations ago.
It’s seen when a prominent American pastor (referring to John 14, where Jesus is identified as the word of God) calls the Bible, “divine,” “eternal” and “God’s Word.”
It’s seen when the minister lifts high the Bible and leads the congregation through a pledge of loyalty to the Bible, loyalty deserving of God alone.
It’s seen in the frown when, inadvertently, a textbook or any book is placed on top of the Bible.
It’s seen when a congregant stands, raises a Bible and declares his faith and his trust “in the King James version.”
We, the community of faith, revere the Bible. My concern is not with the Bible itself. My concern has to do with how we use the Bible, with “rightly dividing the word of truth.” The Bible is important to who we are, but only God is indispensable to who we are.
May 15th, 4pm, in the basement.
We will discuss No Ordinary Men by Elisabeth Sifton. This book is the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his brother-in-law who resisted Hitler’s tyranny in Nazi Germany. Everyone is welcome.
A Season of Celebration
First Community Church was founded in 1926, and we are celebrating our 90th year all this month. Join us every Sunday as we celebrate the decades with special music, messages, and guests.
We are taking orders for Easter Lilies. If you would like to purchase one “In Honor Of” or “In Memory Of” a loved one, please contact the church office.
90th Celebration this year!
If you know of former members who would appreciate receiving information about our celebration, please call the church office. Detailed information will be mailed out very soon.
If you have any old photos of church members, activities, weddings, etc. that you would be willing to share, please bring them by the church office for Tracy to scan. The deadline is April 7th.
The sense of urgency tends to distract us from the sense of importance. It does so by demanding that we attend to the immediate, forgetting the long-term. But more often than not, matters of long-term consequence are the more important, the ones closer to the survival of life, personal and national as we know it, and desire.
A few weeks ago, I attended a lecture at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School and was surprised to learn that sociologists believe our nation is more divided now than at any other time in our history.
Even more divided than in the Civil War era? Yes, says sociologist Jonathan Haidt, author and teacher, the lecturer for the evening.
And yet, there seems to be very little attention given to this matter. As I write these words, the stock market is plummeting — severely at this very instant. It has been erratic the past few months, but today, it seems to be a little more ominous. The networks have been buzzing, giving it top priority.
That’s what the sense of urgency does.
Granted, such news of the stock market is urgent and demands immediate attention. But next week, some other urgent matter will stake its claim for our attention. And so it goes.
But when will we remember the important matters? Has the sense of urgency caused us to forget what is really important? It seems so, but the Bible has not forgotten. Covering the span of millenniums, its message is constant.
In Genesis 13, we read, “and there was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and …”; Genesis 37, “And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all …”; Psalm 133, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”; Galatians 5, “But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not …”; and James 3, “for where envying and strife is, confusion and every work.”
And the crowning statement belongs to Jesus in Mark 3: “If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” — the text used in Abraham Lincoln’s “A House Divided” speech, just prior to the Civil War.
The two most startling charts presented during the lecture show the different shades of red and blue in America.
A few decades ago, in the center, along the dividing line, where the moderates dwell, the blue and the red colors were soft and gentle. Out on the edges, where the extremists are, the colors deepened significantly. The lighter shades of the two colors occupied the most space. The space owned by the deep, dark colors was much smaller. We were, then, much more moderate in our politics, more interested in the other side’s point of view.
Not so today, according to those charts. The space occupied by the moderate shades of red and blue has been overwhelmed by the dark, extreme shades. We have become a nation far more extreme in our views, less willing to listen to one another and even less willing to talk.
Although extremism has always existed and always will, our forefathers designed a form of government to combat it, recognizing its danger. The very foundation of our democracy is the exchange of opinions, not the squelching of them. Consequently, we have executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, calling for an orderly exchange of ideas. This is who we are; this is our inherent way of life.
The bottom line? America is today un-American, and the world is worried. What to do? Start listening, and then start talking — as Americans.
We will have a book discussion on Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott on January 31st at 4pm. See you there!
Join us this Sunday Morning
at 10:00 a.m.
First Community Church
2007 E 15th Street
Joplin, MO 64804