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Is Bible Boring? - Lesson 2
Contextual God Among Israelites!
Was whatever the people of Israel believed unique to them? Was it original to them or were they influenced by the cultures around them? I know it is a difficult question for some of us to hear because for some it diminishes the greatness of our ancestor’s faith, rather than enhancing it. It feels like we are not unique, instead of thinking we are all God’s family, regardless of where we came from or look like.
Even though Israel dressed, ate, and lived among and around pagans, we grew up believing that their revelation of God and religious ideas were nothing like their pagan neighbors. Really? Let us go deeper.
The people of the city of Ugarit in Syria called their gods with the same words as the Israelites; El, the God of Abraham. Israelites won’t call the “El” of the Ugarit, holy, because their god was a pagan god. Since we believe in one God, which is again El, we assume our “El” is different from their “El”, and therefore holy! I am sure you get the point.
There are other things like divination, casting lots, consulting the ephod all have some Near Eastern parallels. The ark of the covenant is known as palanquins in ancient Egypt. They believed what the pagans around them believed that the seat of the intellect was in the kidneys or intestines. That’s why to prove infidelity in marriage the Israelites drank poison, just like their neighbors. Customs, practices, and prayer forms resembled that of their neighbors and friends in the region.
This could be anxiety-producing for someone who believes the literal words as the ultimate truth without a deeper understanding of the cultural context. God did not give Israelites a totally new culture in giving them the truth about who God truly is. He talked to them through the methods that were available easily, that they understood contextually, and could believe.
God chose to speak to the people of Israel, in the context of their time. But it also showed them that unlike the pagan gods their God could not be moved at the whim and fancy of a people. God of Israel demanded loyalty, faithfulness, and good honest living rather than sacrifices and offerings. It is the theological dimension that made Israelite God different from Pagan gods. The practical application of the manifestation of God in their lives made them a unique people. That involved living with the qualities spoken throughout the Bible. So, it is required that we understand the Bible contextually, not literally.
Fr. Jos
Next Week: What are all these talks about circumcision?
Our Love and Admiration Today!
Lazelle Atkinson
Zelle just turned 100! wow. She has some history with St. James. Being one of the founding members of St. James, I am blessed to know her, hear her and understand the journey she has taken. She has some meaningful and effective insights into life that I have come to enjoy in the last four years.
Several of our members were her students in the Sunday School classes she taught. I was so very impressed watching her listen to the Confessions of St. Augustine. It is not an easy book to crack, but she enjoys listening and learning even at this age and it's an example for all of us.
It was wonderful seeing her in the church when the Atikinson's celebrated her 100th birthday.
Thank you so much for your Advent and Christmas giving! We appreciate your generous hearts. Because of you, we can do the work of Christmas!
Because of you
  • 12 Field Families had ham in their Holiday Food Basket
  • 30 seniors in care facilities received Christmas gifts
  • 11 St. James senior members were remembered
  • Crossline Share Your Christmas was funded for seniors in the community
Youth and Children Sunday School
EKC and EYC are back for Sunday School this week!
We will be talking about the book of Luke this week, with a focus on Jesus and John the Baptist. I hope to see everyone! Happy New Year!
Celebrations & Prayers This Month
Happy Birthdays
Brenda Monroe, Jan. 8th.
Paula Stuckey, Jan. 9th
Charlie Dodson, Jan. 12th.
Elaine Atkinson, Jan. 13th.
Anne Wright, Jan 17th.
Sam Hamra, Jan. 21st.
Rebecca Alderfer, Jan. 27th.
Nancy Pomeroy, Jan. 28th.
David Hamilton, Jan. 29th.
Alec Hilton, Jan. 29th.
Maggie Thornton, Jan. 29th.
Happy Anniversary
Eric and Elaine Atkinson
January 16th
Jim and Tessa Eggers
January 18th
Prayers for Families This Week
Bishop-Jones, Breazeale, Breid
Flower Dedications
To the Glory of God.
Altar Schedule - February 9th
Altar Guild
Amie Ramsfield
Tessa Eggers
Celebrant & Preacher
Fr. Jos Tharakan
Deacon & Gospel Proclamation
The Rev. Suzy Lynch
Eucharistic Minister 1
Eucharistic Minister 2
Brett Durbin
Julie Gillogly
1st Reading
2nd Reading
Sam Hamra
Lisa Pruitt
Eric Atkinson
Prayers of the people
The Rev. Suzy Lynch
Acolyte (s)
Lisa Pruitt
Terry Abshire
Eric Atkinson

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