Maybe you’ve heard of the new mini-series airing on the History Channel called “The Bible”, produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. Several people from our congregation have talked about it and asked me what I thought about it. I don’t have cable television, so I haven’t been able to watch more than a few trailers online. As I understand, the series is almost completed, though I'm sure there will be reruns and DVD purchases available. In the Canadian Lutheran magazine, Pastor Ted Giese from Mount Olive Lutheran Church has written an excellent review of the mini-series he entitled, “The Bible: Viewer discretion is advised.” He gives the best advice for this or any other program that tries to tell God’s story on the screen. Giese says, “Watch this programme with your Bible next to you.”
There are no "unbiblical" stories presented in the mini-series--Pastor Giese is not saying that. He is saying that you need to have your Bible in front of you to see how they actually portray the true Biblical account. "The Bible" mini-series is not the inerrant Word of God--it is an interpretation and an adaptation. The screenwriters and director have to fill in some blanks; it's not their fault; it can’t be helped. The actors have to give “character” to the biblical characters. We all have our biases, what is the bias of this program...how have they chosento fill in the blanks? I'm sure some of the stories portrayed in the mini-series are wonderfully accurate adaptations; but they really missed-the-mark in portraying what is probably the most raw, challenging, and Christ-centered episode of the entire Old Testament. The writers and directors really show their bias when filming the story of Abraham’s near sacrifice of his only son, Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19).
Aside from Jesus, Abraham is maybe the most obedient God-fearing person in the entire Bible. Surely Abraham had his flaws...but lack of faith was not one of them. In the written Bible, Abraham rarely if ever doubts God Word (see Romans 4:20), and he certainly would never do so out of rebellion or defiance. Abraham seldom questions God’s will, and if he does, it is with the utmost respect, confidence, and deference to God’s authority (see Genesis 18: 22-33). And yet, “The Bible” mini-series presents Abraham as being a deeply conflicted individual plagued by doubts and fears. For instance, when asked by an inaudible voice to sacrifice his son Isaac, Abraham replies: “Sacrifice? No, no! Have I not shown you enough faith?” These words are not spoken by Abraham in the written Bible and are totally out-of-character for a man who would grudge nothing to God.
I suppose the writers want the viewer to identify with Abraham by making him more like us, someone we can relate to, someone plagued by doubts and fears about God, someone more “human.” But Abraham is NOT someone we can relate to. That’s because none of us (I presume) have ever heard a direct command audibly spoken to us from the very lips of almighty God. And so instead, we end up viewing Abraham like ourselves...like someone who never really HEARS God speak, but FEEL sometimes like He’s trying to communicate something personally to us...but are never quite sure.
Intentionally or not, “The Bible” mini-series allows us to believe that Abraham's clear command from God to sacrifice his son was just a voice in his head or else a doubtful “feeling.” In the Scriptures however, Abraham relies upon a clear, unmistakable, doubtless, audible command and promise from God. St. Paul says, “Faith comes by hearing.” Jesus says, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Why then should we presume that God would bypass Abraham’s ears to speak inside his head? Do we think God wants us to question Abraham’s sanity? Do we think He wanted Abraham to have reason to doubt?
To be willing to sacrifice your only son at God’s command is unimaginable enough and would take extreme humility and faith. But to sacrifice your Son because a fleeting voice in your head or impression upon your heart urges you to...that is not faith, it’s folly. It’s dangerous at best, insanity at worst. It would make Abraham out to be a crazy old fool and God to be a poor communicator. This is nothing new. The serpent made God out to be a poor communicator when he said to Eve in the Garden, “Did God REALLY say you must not eat?...” In the real Bible, God always speaks clearly: Satan is the one who speaks doubtfully.
The modern bias of many Christians is to think that FAITH is obeying God even when you have every reason to doubt him. On the contrary, Faith in the written Bible is to act confidently upon the clear and intelligible Word of God because you have NO REASON AT ALL to doubt him. God may do things you don’t like. He might break YOUR sinful desires and YOUR worldly ambitions; He might break your idols and your ego; but He has never EVER broken his Word and promise. God promised to give Abraham a great big family through his son Isaac, and that all nations will be blessed through his offspring. In other words, God had made a promise that required Isaac to remain alive. And so when God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, did Abraham doubt God and think that He was going to break that promise? Not if he was as faithful as the written Bible says. Even if God wouldn’t have stayed Abraham’s knife-hand at the last minute, a faithful man would know that with God all things are possible. And if Isaac did die, isn’t God more powerful than death? If it came down to it, could not the God who made heaven and earth, the Lord of Life Himself raise Isaac from the dead to keep his promise?
“Being certain and confident about what God says”...That’s what biblical faith means; but not according to the mini-series. In the mini-series have a modern notion of faith, and this bias is evident in the way they embellish the character of Abraham with doubts. If the writers wanted to “embellish” the written account, they should have done so by alluding to Christ. After all, the story of Abraham and Isaac is ultimately the story of God and Jesus...only God spared Abraham’s son, and sacrificed his own Son instead. Maybe they could have had Abraham build a cross-shaped altar for Isaac. Maybe Isaac while lying on the altar could have said to Abraham, “My father, my father, why have you forsaken me?” If the true point of “The Bible” mini-series is to get God’s message out there, the embellishments shouldn’t turn Abraham into an anxiety case, but turn all Scripture to Christ who is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of God’s Word and work for us.
For what it’s worth, I don't doubt that Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are sincere, well-intentioned Christians. Frankly, I’m glad they made the program. Some of the clips I’ve seen are very good and I hope those represent the majority of the episodes. I'm sure some people will be moved to read the actual Bible because of what they see. However, no one should use this show as an alternative to reading the written Bible. You might think to watch the show because the written Bible is hard to understand or you just never seem to get around to reading it. If that’s the case, I would say to take that mini-series hour and spend it instead on a group Bible study at your church. The Word of God is best when it is taught and studied together (Acts 8:30-31). But if that just ain’t gonna happen...then go ahead and watch “The Bible”...only don’t forget the fact that it is only an adaptation and must be held accountable to the Scriptures themselves. We should always be like the Bereans in the book of Acts who “Received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Do that, and “The Bible” mini-series on the History Channel can be sure to serve the written and holy Bible, rather than the other way around.
Pastor Nathan Fuehrer
Luke 24: 36-38 (Jesus Appears to His Disciples) Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?”
There will be a Sunday School Staff meeting following the 11 a.m. service on Sunday, April 14th in the Fireside Room. Please come with some game ideas for your class of students. These games will be played on May 5th. I would like to have all the teachers participate.
I would like all SS staff members to complete an evaluation of the SS program. The forms are on the desk in the Education room. Please hand them to me at church or place it in my mailbox once you have filled it in.
For your information, our Sunday School enrolment policy states that if your child turns 3 years old they are able to begin attending Sunday School. So, even if your child has recently had her/his third birthday, your child is welcome to begin attending Sunday School, if you feel that they are ready to do so. Please talk to Kathy Withage; the Sunday School Coordinator, or to a Pre-School teacher about registering your child in Sunday School.
The church provides offering envelopes for all Sunday School children. We believe that this will promote good stewardship habits among our children—habits which hopefully will be with them for their lifetime. The envelopes are numbered and individual offerings are recorded and added to their parent’s financial contribution statement. The Sunday School offerings go into the church’s general budget. The exception to this may be to collect special offerings for missions. Information about a special offering will be communicated to parents prior to a special offering being taken.
If you would like to know more about Sunday School, have questions about what is happening in the Sunday School, or would like to help with Sunday School please talk to the Sunday School Coordinator, Kathy Withage.
If anyone is interested in taking over as Coordinator of the Sunday School or as Assistant Coordinator of the Sunday School as of September 2013 please let me or Katherine Canfield know.
Lesson schedule for April:
April 7: Jesus Appears to Thomas
April 14: Jesus Teaches Us to Pray
April 21: Jesus Ascends into Heaven
April 28: God Sends the Holy Spirit
May 5th: The final day of Sunday School (We will have a final performance as soon as the 11 a.m. worship service begins and then the SS children will leave the Sanctuary to play games in the Gerald Probe playground/park area, with their Sunday School teachers, to have a fun wind-up of their SS year).
The Great Commission
Matthew 28: 18-20 (Speaking to 11 disciples on the mountain) Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.”
In His Service,
Kathy Withage, Sunday School Coordinator
Ian Aman, a former member of our congregation and now member the Christian band "To Die For" is coming to Immanuel to lead the music at our 11am service on May 5th. Ian is coming on behalf of Compassion Canada, a Christian Missions organization. He will give a short presentation after service and will set up a table in the Foyer for those supporting the mission project.
Our wonderful Casavant pipe organ was recently tuned, and the pipe loft has been modified to make better use of the acoustics in our sanctuary. Our organ is now working to its full potential! Peter van Waardhuizen of Pearce Piano Service tuned our organ and asked to hold an Organ Recital at Immanuel on Thursday May 2nd at 7:30pm. There is no charge, but any free-will contributions will go towards the mission "Gospel in Asia." You can read about the mission at www.gfa.ca.
Spring Voter's Meeting scheduled for May 5th after the 11 a.m. service.
SEEKING A CONGREGATIONAL TREASURER
Immanuel Lutheran Church is seeking someone who would be willing to be our Congregational Treasurer. Our need is great. If you are interested, you may contact Dori Modney, PPC Chairman; or else Pastor Nathan.
PUERTO PENASCO MISSION; A VACATION WITH
Hola amigos! By the time you read this article, I will once again have visited a build site where Mission Jim has been busy constructing a safe, comfortable home for a family in need (perhaps they were living in a shack similar to the one in the picture). During the month of March, which included Spring Break and Easter, 2 groups from UTH builders have been in town and this week a group from Jim's home church in Oregon was here. I can't wait for "our Immanuel group" to visit Penasco in the fall to participate in such a life-changing experience - both for the giver and the receiver.
Last week, the local Pastor's sermon topic was True Worship Comes from an Undivided Heart! True Worship is a Spiritual Response from a Giving Heart, one free from distractions and restraints. My prayer is that we all will have such a response - to reach out to those in this community with the message of God's love through actions of service to those in need.
I hope that you have been considering how to support the mission, whether you will participate in the week's activities in person or whether you will support from home. The Board of Outreach will organize a Garage Sale for April 19th and 20th with half of the proceeds going to the Penasco Mission; perhaps you have some items that you could donate. "Segundas" (garage sale/flea markets) are a common sight here as well so we have been gathering some tools to start building an inventory for our mission projects.
Please contact me by email if you have interest in this mission and/or if you have any questions. My email is email@example.com
In His service,
p.s. On a side note, I had a request from a Penasco church for an additional 100 New Testament Spanish books. This church has 80 members, 30 of which are children. I had delivered 30 books to them previously but they will hold an event on April 28th where they expect 100 kids and would like to give the books as gifts. The original 30 were shared with their sister church in another city. Thanks to Horst and Delores Mueller for getting the books to Phoenix so that a contact of mine could bring them to Mexico.
New Ministry? Possibly? Consider volunteering for 2 hours once a month for childcare Sign up as a volunteer for childcare and indicate time of day you are available e.g. morning, afternoon or evening. Mentor, guide, and build relationship with the children and young family in our congregation. Your ability to volunteer and share your time caring for children may enable more people to learn, fellowship, grow and share the love of our heavenly savior. Adults ,Youth /Teenager are greatly needed. Signup sheet on bulletin board.
How do I talk to the guys about Jesus? There’s a ROC for that! Men of faith sometimes find it difficult to talk about it with the guys. Drawing from the experience of Lutheran Hour Ministries’ Men’s Network a workshop at Lutheran Church–Canada’s first-ever national outreach conference, Reach Out Canada (ROC) in Winnipeg July 5-7 will explore ways to be up-front with what you believe. For registration information and program details go to www.reachoutcanada.net. (this is going on during the Youth Gather for Adults check it out!)
How do I explain that Jesus is “The Way”? There’s a ROC for that! It’s tough to speak of Jesus Christ as “The Way” in a world that says there are many ways to God. A workshop at Lutheran Church–Canada’s first-ever national outreach conference, Reach Out Canada (ROC) in Winnipeg July 5-7 will help you navigate the many-paths mindset. For registration information and program details go to www.reachoutcanada.net.
Praying Mothers Group: A small group of women are meeting Tuesday afternoon usually from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. You are welcome to join us. If this time is not convenient for you but you would like to participate in this type of group please speak to Katherine Canfield 403-756-2149/403-327-4336. Pray provides comfort and security, and also fulfills the mission the Lord has for us to pray for each other and bear one another’s burdens. I cannot think of any better way to truly love your children/grandchildren, families & friends than by lifting them up in prayer on a consistent basis.
Moms & Tots Group. Will run the second & fourth Thursday morning of each month from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. A Moms & Tots group is a group of mothers of preschoolers [a mother of a child from conception through kindergarten]. This group is an opportunity to build community by providing an open, caring and accepting atmosphere where women can come together to share this important season of life. A place for mentoring where mature women listen, encourage and offer information and perspectives gained through experience. A place for practical instruction, teaching focuses on areas of common interest, offering inspiration and information that is relevant to the life of a mother. Interested? Bring a Friend. Please place your name & phone number on the signup sheet on the bulletin board outside the fellowship hall. You must register as we need numbers to budget and for child care. If you need more information please call Katherine Canfield Parish Coordinator 403-327-4336 or 403-756-2149.
You are an important piece of the National Youth Gathering Puzzle!
We would love to see you in Winnipeg in July 5 – 9, 2013!
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” I Corinthians 12:27
Youth ages 13- 18 and youth leaders 21+ are encouraged to attend the Lutheran Church Canada National Youth Gathering. This is an event to celebrate God’s work in our lives through Jesus and to build up and strengthen our youth & congregations. Cost is $495.00pp (with housing) before April 30, after April 30th registration $525.00pp transportation cost are approx. $200.00pp. Interested or want to learn more speak to Katherine Canfield 403-756-2149 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org Please do not let the cost turn you away. If there is enough interest it is planned that the youth will do a fundraiser to hopefully pay a third of the cost and another third hopefully will be covered by the church from the funds put aside for the youth and a third would be paid by the youth.
Mark Your Calendars the next Pastoral Care Visitor Training is scheduled for June 21 & 22 .Do you enjoy exploring with others what their faith means to them? Do you like listening to their “stories,” the journey of their lives? Can you walk with them as they figure out their spiritual place within the universe and within who they are? Would you like to become more aware of what you can do, what “tools” you can use? You may want to just visit with others within your congregation and/or to also touch the people in a care residence. The Good Samaritan Society is offering training in the how-to’s of visiting with older people. The Next training is Friday June 21, 6-9 p.m, and Saturday, June 22, 8 am - 4 pm at Immanuel Lutheran church. Cost is $70 which includes workshop material and Lunch on Saturday. Interested or need more information contact Katherine Canfield 403-756-2149 and she will pass on registration information forms etc to you as soon as they become available.
Do you have a gift for the culinary arts? Enjoy cooking & meal preparation? Share your gift/talent with your congregation! We could always use a few more volunteers. Please consider being open to receiving a phone call and assisting on a as needed basis to prepare the occasional meal for those in our church family who may be recovering from surgery, hospitalization, death in the family, a family crisis or adapting to the birth of a new baby, etc. This is a wonderful way to help service our church family. A signup is on the bulletin board by the fellowship hall please add your name & phone number to the Food Train to receive a phone call to assist with the preparation of the occasional meal.
One tree can start a forest, One smile can begin a friendship, One hand can lift a soul, One word can frame the goal, One candle can wipe out darkness, One laugh can conquer gloom,
One hope can raise our spirits,
And...one choice, one volunteer can make a difference
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
Tell it on the Mountain. Where Jesus Christ is Lord. We Need Your Help! Come help make our VBS a success again this summer and help children “Shout it from the Mountaintops that Jesus Christ is Lord!” We are now looking for people to help out with Vacation Bible School 2013. Everyone’s talent is needed and put to good use. No experience is necessary, training manuals and help are provided. Vacation Bible School will run July 15-19 (Mon-Fri) from 9:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. We need approximately the following numbers of volunteers: 2-3 Preschool Leaders, 6 Preschool Helpers, 4-5 Group Leaders, 3-4 Group helpers, 3-4 Craft Helpers, 2 Music Volunteers, 2 Story Tellers, 1-2 Bible Challenge Volunteers, 2-3 games/recreation volunteers, 3-4 snack volunteers, 3-4 volunteers for registration tables, and at least 1 Sound system volunteer.
If you could help out in any of these position please cut the following out of the newsletter and drop off at the church office or in Debbie Lemke’s or Katherine Canfield’s mail box. Debbie Lemke is the Volunteer Coordinator for VBS once again this year. THANK YOU Very Much Debbie!
The preschool children have been having so much fun this year. They are looking forward to a field trip in April to the Helen Schuler Coulee Center. There will be no preschool March 29 - April 5, for Easter break, classes will resume on April 8th.
Registration for the 2013-2014 school year is looking great, however there are still a few spaces available. If you would like more information about registration, please call 403-892-6627.
The Board of Outreach is putting together our 2nd Garage Sale on April 19th and 20th. Proceeds are going to the Puerto Penasco mission and the Building Fund. FaithLife Financial will match funds received up to $500.00 Be sure to hang on to your “un-wants” for this event and then drop them off at the church beginning April 7th. If you have any questions, please talk to Janet Ainscough or Lori Friesen. Any leftover funds received for the Puerto Penasco mission will go into the Cross-Cultural Missions, mission account.
Do you like to camp??? How about hang out with some friends from church?? Well, I am planning a Church Campout for this coming summer and I am looking for people who are interested in coming out. We will have games, activities and even a Pot Luck for all ages. I need to have an idea of how many trailers/tents we will need to book. Also, any ideas or input is welcome. Feel free to email me at email@example.com or phone 403-317-0258 or 403-894-4882. I look forward to lots of participants to make this an annual event.
Immanuel Lutheran Church
February 28, 2013
A-BC District Mission Donations for Month...................................................................................................... $90.00
A-BC District Mission Donations to Date ........................................................................................................... 90.00
CLWR Mission Donations for Month ............................................................................................................... 215.00
CLWR Mission Donations to Date ................................................................................................................... 240.00
Servus Credit Union Cheq. Acc.t Balance................................................................................................. $19,845.54