Virtual Bulletin – 6/5

June 5th, 2022 – Pentecost

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  June 6th – June 12th

Tuesday……………….            7:00 PM           Elders

Thursday……………….          10:00 AM        Bible Study

Saturday………………..          Barnabas, Apostle

Sunday: ………………….          10:00 AM        Worship

                                                 11:15 AM        Bible Study     

COMMEMORATIONS

Barnabas is one of those guys that pops up in the bible for a sizeable role and then disappears into tradition.  His given name was Joseph.  He was a Levite, so from the Jewish priestly tribe.  He was also a native of the island of Cyprus.  He’s recorded as one of the earliest believers.  His description as an apostle would probably place him as one of those 120 gathered after the Ascension as apostle is typically reserved for those who witnessed the risen Christ. His first act recorded is selling a field and giving the proceeds to the 12 Apostles.  That act, immediately followed by the strange story of Ananias and Sapphira who try and do the same thing, but both end up dead, is one of the strangest stories in the bible. It is Barnabas that eases the former persecutor Saul’s acceptance as Paul (Acts 9:27).  It is Barnabas who digs Paul back up in Tarsus and sets him on his course in Antioch (Acts 11:22ff).  And it is Barnabas who is Paul’s traveling companion on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:2) upon which he gets hailed as Zeus in Lystra (Acts 14:13). Mark was Barnabas’ cousin, and it would be Mark that would cause Paul and Barnabas to split (Acts 15:39). From that point Barnabas is handed over to tradition which has him stoned to death in his native Cyprus for preaching the gospel.  The name means “Son of Encouragement” which seemed to be his role.  He was always looking for ways to include in the mission.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

An article in The Atlantic by Jonathan Haidt recently used the Tower of Babel, our Old Testament lesson (Genesis 11:1-9), as its introductory image. For what he is trying to do in that article, it is an interesting choice. He is trying to describe a feeling about the present time in the United States.  In his words, “Something went terribly wrong, very suddenly. We are disoriented, unable to speak the same language or recognize the same truth. We are cut off from one another and from the past.”  In that article, this state of being is portrayed as the negative outcome of social media.  We can’t go back before the new technology introduction, but we can learn to use it better, regulate its dangers, and resume the march of progress to a “more cooperative future.”

Why I say that it is an interesting choice is not because of the description of living immediately post Babel. I think he nails that.  Haidt even mentions that Google translate became widely available on smart phones in 2011. “We were closer than we had ever been to being ‘one people,’ and we had effectively overcome the curse of division by language. For techno-democratic optimists, it seemed to be only the beginning of what humanity could do.”  There is no doubt in my mind that to many folks who read the Atlantic 2011 probably felt like a unitary world of endless human possibility. The problem being in 2011 the ability for anybody who disagreed with that techno-future to express it was much more limited.  I have no doubt that for many of the good and great the 10+ years post 2011 have felt like living post-babel as they were forced to realize they shared a country with people who didn’t agree with them on very basic things.  And the inability to talk has only ramped up as “blocking” and yelling “shut up” seem to be the preferred strategies. But the Biblical story of Babel assigns curse and blessing to different states than Haidt.  The curse was the whole earth having one language and the same words.  The blessing of God was the confusion.

That may sound wrong or at least counter-intuitive.  The reasoning is that mankind has a God mandated purpose.  In Genesis that is to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over every living thing.” The deepest meaning and happiness that mankind can find is living the purpose for which God created them.  But the people of Babel had become fixated on a purpose contrary to the will of God.  The tower was fighting the last war.  If God sent a flood again, which he promised not to do, the tower was the defense and maybe even an offensive weapon to “storm the heavens”.  It was also directly contrary to God’s will in that the tower’s purpose was to prevent filling the earth and instead to stay together. Continuing to pursue this sinful purpose, a war with God, would only lead to misery.  It was God’s blessing to confuse the languages and spread them out.    

Now in a fallen world blessings can feel like curses or at least punishments.  The correction or even the limitation of sin (the first use of the law, a curb) can hurt.  As Jesus says in John 15:2, “every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” The Holy Spirit is the promise of the Kingdom Come.  In the Kingdom we will not have to ask because we will know as we are known (1 Cor 13:12). In the Kingdom, the confusion of languages isn’t necessary, because we are united in Christ.  Pentecost rolls back the confusion not because it was a curse, but because in the Spirit such a law is not necessary.  The many languages do not go away in Pentecost as they are all part of God’s good creation.  But all understand as if in their native tongue.  We so often strive after unity in external things which leads to sinful tyranny like Babel.  It is the unity in the Spirit the produces many types of fruit.   

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story” – The Passover & Jewish Festivals
  • Confirmation: Completed Year 1, return in the Fall
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Summer Break
  • Sunday Morning: Going to continue with the Psalms for a Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: Baptism, in your inbox