For Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
"What is happening to families at the border is horrific," Hillary Clinton said last month. "Every human being with a sense of compassion and decency should be outraged." She also slammed Attorney General Jeff Sessions for arguing that the Bible justifies this type of treatment on the border. "Nor are these policies rooted in religion. In fact, those who selectively use the Bible to justify this cruelty are ignoring a central tenant of Christianity." She added: "I went to a lot of years of Sunday school. I even taught it from time to time. ... What is being done using the name of religion is contrary to everything I was ever taught. Jesus said suffer the little children onto me, he did not say let the children suffer."
Well, at last we are recognizing the value of the family unit. And we are hearing this in America, which has in recent years seen more disintegration of the traditional family than any other developed country. Hillary is correct in her characterization of Jesus' teaching regarding children. They seemed to follow him everywhere he went. The idea of keeping families together didn't start with Jesus, however. "Honor thy father and mother", is the Fifth Commandment. "The wicked die and disappear, but the family of the godly stands firm." Proverbs 12:7. And from Job: "Because I delivered the poor who cried for help, And the orphan who had no helper." Job 29:12. Much of Jesus' ministry was about helping others, bringing comfort and in many cases healing to the afflicted and downtrodden. But Hillary and Sessions are both guilty of "prooftexting" - lifting a verse from the Bible to support a position. John Wesley warned against this. To Wesley, the plain teachings of the Bible were the foundations of the Christian faith. But they were to be seen as "a grand scheme of doctrine", not isolated verses. Maybe the best we can do in this space is look at context and setting.
Jesus and his fellow Jews were subjects of the Roman government. Rome was concerned mainly with extracting taxes and snuffing out subversion. Everything else was under the
purview of the Scribes, Pharisees and the Sanhedrin. Even the most casual Sunday school student knows how Jesus got along with these groups. Jesus was not imploring the government to step in to take care of the children, widows and orphans. He was speaking to the people, his fellow Jews. The people who would become Christians. People like you and me.
There are maybe a thousand churches in the US who would sponsor a child today, or for that matter an entire family. The list of families wanting to adopt is a long one. Can you imagine the outcry if suddenly the churches were given the task of solving this family problem at the border?
Christianity is not a passive religion. We don't hang around the square and wax eloquent like Plato or Aristotle. This is a religion spawned by a crucifixion, a resurrection, persecution and perserverance. We are about doing. Hold on a second. Paul says we are saved by grace. "For it is by grace you have been saved, .." Ephesians 2:8. But that doesn't mean we sit around and do
nothing. In the next verse, he says "For we are Godís handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10. Maybe we don't sit on our hands, but sometimes our hands are tied. Christians 'R Good Works. Even when the Scribes and Pharisees don't approve.
From Our (New) Pastor Kevin Liles
As your pastor, I have a passion for studying the Bible, learning more and more each
day to grow in my walk with Christ, and sharing with you in this journey. I have been a
member of the United Methodist Church since the age of seven. I credit my
grandparents and parents for instilling in me a strong Christian foundation as a child that
has helped me in my walk today. I grew up and went to schools in New Ellenton where
the Savannah River Nuclear Site is located and now live in Aiken.
Like most of us in the church, I have held various positions from Sunday school teacher
to Administrative Council Chairperson. I have been active in Lay Servant Ministries for
over 20 years and have been blessed with the privilege of visiting many churches,
bringing messages, and making friends across the Orangeburg District. I am the current
Director of Lay Servant Ministries for the Orangeburg District. I also enjoy assisting
churches in the Forward Focus process of revitalization and growth.
I have a Bachelorís degree in Psychology (1998) and a Masters of Public Administration
degree (2007). I enjoy working on projects around the house such as yardwork and in
my spare time I enjoy reading, running, and cycling.
More than any of these things, I want to say that I am blessed to be with you and look
forward to sharing in our walk toward greater maturity in Christ. I believe that we should
share in this journey with others and make disciples of those who have not been
reached. I want you to feel free to contact me anytime that I can be of assistance.
Mailing address: 112 Backwoods Lane, Aiken SC 29801
Phone: 803-439-2600; Email:
Fifth Sunday Singing Service
We are blessed to have Shandon UMC, Columbia, present a musical and praise program at New Hope on Sunday, July 29. This is the second year for Shandon and last year was memorable and inspirational.
Members of the choir are under the direction of Eddie Huss, who will accompany on the piano, which in itself is not to be missed. The service will include scripture readings appropriate to the musical program.
After the service we will have dinner at The Oaks, Magnolia Room. Please contact LInda Heape by Friday, July 20th if you plan to be with us so we can have an accurate count for dinner: phone: 803-533-0557; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The timing of this event is an excellent opportunity to meet Kevin, our new pastor, and his wife, Jennifer. So make plans to join on this special occasion!