More frequently than I wish I read or am told something about a subject on which I like to think I know a good bit and realize to my chagrin that I really should have noticed it myself. It happened again last week while I was listening to a lecture on the Gospels as a literary form by Professor Elizabeth Vandiver, one of the truly great American teachers of Classical literature.
What she pointed out is that in ancient Greek and Roman tragedy plays, histories, novels (yes, they had them in the first century), or epic poetry whenever a character of low social status is introduced it is almost invariably as either an example of bad behavior or as a subject of mockery. The Gospels all go against this literary convention. They include parables and accounts of incidents in which people of middling or low social status are often represented as worthy of Jesus' interest and attention. We generally take this pretty much for granted, but it would certainly have been notable and surprising in the cultural world of the Roman Empire, a highly stratified society in which wealth and power were seen as marks of divine favor and the lack of them viewed as a sign of divine indifference, disfavor, or even hatred.
So why are the Gospels so radically different in their treatment of people of low social status? It's not because the Gospel writers were somehow just nicer or more considerate than their contemporaries. The reason for this break with the nearly universal attitudes and assumptions of their time was theological, and we are reminded of it every Sunday when we hear this in the Comfortable Words following the Confession and Absolution:
So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. John iii. 16.
A consistent theme throughout the New Testament is that Christ's sacrifice on the Cross was and remains a sacrifice made for all people and that the benefits of it are available to every person who puts his or her trust in Him and endeavors to follow Him.This truth was the impetus for the missionary enterprise that saw the rapid spread of Christianity across and beyond the Roman Empire.
Professor Vandiver's lecture was a useful reminder to me of an important fact about the reading of Scripture in context. Namely, it can increase our understanding of the Bible to be aware not only of the ways in which it draws upon and reflects the values and attitudes of the cultures in which it was produced but also to be aware of the ways in which it departs from and challenges those values and attitudes. Despite its deep roots in Jewish, Greek, and Roman culture, Christianity was a truly “new testament,” a new covenant offered by God to all people without exception. That, of course, includes us.
All things come of thee, O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee
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Sunday Services, 7:45, 9:00 & 11:15 AM nursery care provided during 9 & 11:15 AM services (for online participation for the services go to: https://www.facebook.com/saintsofscotland/ )
Nursery at 9:00 AM & 11:15 AM Services
Sunday School & Men's Group on recess for the summer
Wednesday at Noon – Holy Communion
Saturday July 30, All Saints Anglican Church, Women's Prayer Seminar,
48 New Street, Saluda, VA 23149, 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM, register by emailing Archdeacon Jeff Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Parish Picnic, Sunday September 18, Fort Hunt Park after combined 10 AM Service (7:45 AM Service will be held)
Next Vestry & Men's Group meetings in September
Please pray for everyone on the parish's prayer list that is in the attached bulletins.
Donations to the Food Bank and Marih Center have fallen off drastically this summer. The needs are great. Please help with either a goods donation or a monetary donation. You can give through the donation button in this newsletter and use the drop down menu to choose "Charity & Mercy." Thank you.
Please help this month with a food donation if you are able. Christ House is very thankful for the food we provide to them each month. Please also buy low sugar cereals (and not the kid's types that have lots of sugar). Current needs include the following:
• canned meats (chicken, corned beef, spam)
• peanut butter
• canned vegetables (corn, green beans - (regular and low sodium)
• individual fruit cups (low sugar)
• canned fruit (low sugar)
• cereal (low sugar)
• pasta (regular and gluten-free)
• instant potatoes
• Macaroni & cheese kits
• Coffee, cooking oil, flour, sugar
Updated List of Needs for MaRIH Center (crisis pregnancy center)
MaRIH Center with its all volunteer staff has been providing help to mothers-to-be and mothers in need. If you can provide some of the items that are needed, please do so. (You can leave the donations where the food for the food bank is collected on the pew in the undercorft.)
Baby wipes (an ongoing great need)
Diapers (sizes 1, 4, 5, & 6)
Sleep Sacks: Girls 0-6 mos.
Socks: Boy/Girl 2T
Short sleeved onesies: Boy/Girl 3-6 mos.
Diaper rash ointment
Aldi, Giant, Safeway & Walmart gift cards (for food!)
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St. Andrew & St. Margaret of Scotland
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Alexandria, VA 22301-1625