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          I can remember a church that was suspicious of science, preferring to rely on things that seemed more religious. However, in recent years there have been pockets of the church that have begun to view science as a valuable ally. Some have even formed specialized sciences like Christian psychology or what is referred to as creationism.

          It would be unfortunate if we are allowing ourselves to believe we need the strategies of the world in order to support our worldview. It would be even more unfortunate if we manipulate these strategies or cherry pick facts in an effort to make our worldview more convincing.

          We can all agree that it is a problem when science disregards objectivity to support positions that are morally suspect or for political advantage. We should also agree that it is a problem to treat the Bible as some science text to validate our new pet science. It seems that those inside the church and those on the outside are willing to hi-jack science in the hopes it is a credible voice for their position.

          A Christian worldview is not dependent on scientific agreement with others. I have an interest in science and am certainly no science denier. I have always been fascinated with the sciences like biology and botany and astronomy. I am also fascinated by sciences like tectonic plate theory and paleontology and evolution. My fascination with science allows me to engage in conversation and even question where the data is coming from or for what reason. Science is an evolving thing. New data is constantly being collected and scientists are constantly tweaking their theories. Why spend time arguing with someone about something that may change by next week?

          Our Christian worldview does not permit us to belittle or ridicule people who espouse different opinions than we do. That is a certain way for us to lose trust. Who will want to listen to what we have to say if we are not considered trustworthy? It is important to remember who it is we represent.

          Science addresses different questions than the questions addressed by the Bible. It would be good to remember this. Likewise, it is important to remember the Bible addresses different questions than science. We hinder the mission of the church and cheat the world when we confuse the two.

          It is not possible to understand all the data out there in the world of science, people will be looking for reliable messengers to make sense of the world. The role of the church is to learn to tell our story well. To become faithful tellers of the story that makes sense of the world.

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I love this potential scene given by Scot McKnight of one of Paul’s house churches.

“Lets transport ourselves back to one of Paul’s house churches and imagine yet again the make-up of that group – the morally unkosher sitting with the unpowerful standing with an arm around the financially drained, addressed by an apostle who was being chased daily by opponents of the gospel. In that context, with all those people around, hear again the grand Yes of God.

‘Who can be against us?’ Paul tauntingly thunders. The answer, No one!”

Ben Witherington creates an interesting story about life in Corinth and one of the things I find most interesting is the description of Christian worship. A Week in the Life of Corinth is the tale of a fictional character by the name of Nicanor, a former slave. Upon visiting the strange new religious cult for the first time, he understandably has some questions.

“What sort of religion met under cloak of darkness in a home, and without priests, temples or sacrifices? And then there was all that singing and apparently some kind of prophesying, and then a sort of fervent speech in a language Nicanor had never heard before or since. It had given him chills…” His skepticism helps us understand how unusual first century worship would have been for first timers who encountered Christians.

Later, we follow Nicanor as he makes his way into a worship service. He was “just along for the ride.” Or so he thought. The reader is listening as Nicanor processes what is going on. And his questions keep coming.

“But would a god not only take on the form of a servant, but submit to a rebellious slave’s death on a cross… This totally inverted the normal notions of honor and shame… Nicanor was going to have to ask some questions about these things, but now his curiosity was piqued.”

And then my favorite, “The one question that presented itself immediately was, ‘How could such loving and honest and kind people, who otherwise seemed in their right minds and not prone to religious mania, believe such a tale? Unless of course there is some sort of compelling evidence that it is true.’”

It was Sunday morning and we were gathered for worship. There had already been some excitement in town that morning. A herd of cows had escaped from a nearby pasture and had been wandering around in the borough. Most had been returned to where they came from, but some had spent the night in town and were yet to be found. Sounds like just another day in Duncannon.

During morning announcements, Crystal shared she had seen a cow that morning. She had texted her son who told her she should have invited it to church, then it would be a “holy cow.” She reported she did not, so there was no “holy cow” in worship. She then went on to say there would however be holy communion. I heard Joel who was seated near the front quickly reply “Holy Cow-munion?” (That is a great word)! Moments like these may not be what some think of when they think of worship, but they make me very glad to be part of this group.

Peter Oakes has uncovered a house church in Pompeii. Not really, but he does give some valuable information about who might have worshipped in a first century house church. He tells us that the church may have looked like this;

 

        A craftworker who served as host, along with his wife and children, some male slaves, a female slave, and a dependent relative.

        Tenants who lived in the house along with their families, slaves, and dependents.

        Some family members of a householder who does not participate in the church.

        Some slaves of owners who do not attend.

        Some homeless people.

        Migrant workers who have rented some small rooms in the home.

 

It is helpful for us to get this picture of a first century Roman congregation. It helps us to see the diversity of social class, economic class, and ethnicity of this people who were considered as One in Christ. Scot McKnight makes a reference to Oakes study and later goes on to say, “The church is God’s grand experiment, in which differents get connected, unlikes form a fellowship, and the formerly segregated are integrated… They are to be one in Christ Jesus.”

It has become increasingly fashionable to stop attending church. It is not unusual for someone to convince oneself they can be as spiritual or even more spiritual than those who show up for the weekly gathering. Some of those fashionable people have even coined a term for themselves, the “dones.” I have even heard some of the “dones” refer to themselves as a prophetic movement.

I have no doubts that some have left the church for what seem like good reasons. I am equally certain that among those who continue to attend the weekly gathering are some strong feelings about those who are leaving. In my best effort to read this situation through a gospel lens, here are two thoughts;

1)      The church needs the “dones.” We must never forget that behavior is communication. The “dones” are communicating something and the church would be naïve to ignore it. The “dones” are not the enemy and the church has some responsibility to continue nurturing that relationship.

2)      The “dones” need the church. No matter who comes or goes, the church remains the group called to represent the ways of God in the world. As imperfect as a church may be, it is still the big part of God’s plan. The church has a responsibility to continue offering hospitality, even to those who claim to be done.

We are told Jupiter and Venus are hundreds of millions of miles apart. I have no reason not to believe that. But all week long they have been hanging out together in the same part of the sky and I like it. Sky Pals. The waning Wolf Moon has been caught hanging out with them as well and this morning he was there right in between them. We call this alignment a conjunction. It doesn’t really matter to me what it is called, I like it. What do they talk about during these morning meetings? I suspect at least one of them mentioned it was cold this morning, very cold.