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Archive for the ‘Belief in Brief’ Category

This week is host to many holy days and holidays. Below is a list of them and their dates. Also we have included articles Faith in Focus, the Missourian and christianity.about.com written about the holy days and holidays.

Palm Sunday, March 28, 2010

Passover: March 30 – April 5, 2010

Maundy Thursday: April 1

Good Friday: April 2, 2010

Easter Sunday : April 4, 2010

Eastern Orthodox Easter: April 4, 2010

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Roman Catholic Origins:

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there are three different martyrs named Valentine. Two were in the clergy in Italy during the second half of the third century. The third lived in Africa. However, not much is known about him.

There are two prominent legends about St. Valentine:

  • During the reign of Emperor Claudius II it was decided that single men made better soldiers than those who where married and had families. According to History.com, Claudius II “outlawed marriage for young men.” St. Valentine continued to perform marriage ceremonies in secret for young couples. When Claudius II heard of what St. Valentine was doing, he ordered him put to death.
  • Another legend is that while St. Valentine was in prison, he befriended, or fell in love with, his jailor’s blind daughter. Before he was executed, St. Valentine wrote a letter to her, which he signed “from your Valentine.” When she received the letter, and the first Valentine ever, it is said she was able to see.

Lupercalia:

The pagan fertility festival of Lupercalia was celebrated by ancient Romans on Feb. 14 and 15.

One tradition of this festival was that all the young women would write their name on a slip of paper and place it in an urn. Young men would then choose a name from the urn. The couples would be paired together for the entire festival. Sometimes these parings lasted for up to a year or resulted in marriage.

Some suspect that the feast day of St. Valentine was placed by the Roman Catholic Church on Feb. 14 in order to “Christianize” Lupercalia.

Modern Traditions:

St. Valentine’s Day became associated with love during the 14th century. According to infoplease.com, medieval scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly placed Chaucer as the first one to connect St. Valentine’s Day with love. He wrote the poem “The Parliament of the Fowls” to celebrate a royal engagement. In it he wrote,

“For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, /When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.”

The correlation between love and finding a mate has continued until present. The tradition of exchanging Valentine’s has also continued and expanded to include gifts as well.

Sources:

History.com

Catholic Encyclopedia

infoplease.com

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Members of Congregation Beth Shalom attended a service Wednesday, July 29, to remember the importance of a day called Tisha’ah b’Av. Numerous calamities that have occurred in Jewish history seem to have converged on this one day in the Hebrew calendar. The day, which means “The Ninth of Av” is remembered first as the day that both the First and Second temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, in 586 BCE and 70 CE, and when the Jews were exiled.

Rabbi Feintuch said that many Jewish leaders blame the Jewish people for the demise of the temple, citing the sins of the people as the cause. “Nowadays there are regimes in the Middle East that, in order to keep themselves in power, would point out to an enemy outside, that the Jews are so downtrodden and we suffer because of others. Not so in Jewish tradition.” In other words, some Jews have historically blamed forces within their own group for their downfall, unlike belligerent groups to which Feintuch referred.

He said the Talmud points to much evidence that the Jews’ corrupt behavior allowed for the Babylonian and Roman takeovers.  Specifically, the First Temple’s destruction is connected with the three vices of bloodshed, sexual turpitude and adultery. The second’s fall is connected with several elements, including the Jews hatred among each other and their division into factions, the disobedience of the Sabbath, or lack of youth education in the Torah.

“This is my heritage, I’m not here to try to suggest other views,” Feintuch said. “The Talmud suggests these rabbis who ruled Jerusalem made egregious historical mistakes because they chose not to seek some kind of reconciliation with Rome.”

Feintuch said that the Bible and the Talmud, the 2 most important pieces of Jewish literature, actually corroborate the idea despite our own sins, we look to blame our ills on outside forces.

“Our economy’s so depressed and our society’s so primitive, that this is something that’s happening in the Middle East for instance,” Feintuch said. “To explain their own mistakes and errors, such as women’s rights, they say ‘It’s not us – it’s because of the enemy outside.’ That’s not what the Jewish people chose to do.”

Please read the Columbia Missourian’s recent piece on Tisha b’Av for further information and context.

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Judaism and Christianity share many similarities. They worship the same God, and the Old Testament and Tanakh share the same books. However, Rabbi Yossi Feintuch from Congregation Beth Shalom in Columbia pointed out one stark difference Tuesday night: Judaism is the faith of Jesus whereas Christianity is faith in Jesus.

This difference was the topic of conversation at a meeting of the CBS Men’s Club on Tuesday as Rabbi Feintuch addressed the issue of Jews and the Christian Messiah. Rabbi Feintuch spoke to a group of congregation members as well as a few visiting Christian Reverends with an open mind towards the understanding why the Jewish faith rejects Jesus as Messiah. The Rabbi said for him, it isn’t about being right or wrong but simply being different.

To help the group understand the concept, the Rabbi used marriage as a metaphor for the two different faiths. Like the covenant of marriage, where one choses to marry a certain spouse and another choses a different one, the choice of which faith to follow is neither right nor wrong, Feintuch said. He said both are part of God’s design and both are a covenant with God.

While Feintuch pointed out some inconsistencies between the New and Old Testaments of the Christian Bible when it comes to the prophecy of a Messiah and Jesus’ life, for the most part he steered clear of ragging on the Christian faith and interpretation of Jesus. Instead, he focused on why Jews chose not to accept Jesus.

Among some of his main points, Feintuch suggested that according to the Tanakh, Jews are required to each pay for his own sin. To have a Messiah take on that punishment, as is proclaimed by the Christian Messiah, would be wrong. In that sense, the focus of Judaism is on the Commandments instead of a Messiah, Feintuch said. Another argument posed by the Rabbi was that according to the Christian faith, the only way be in relationship with God is through Jesus, but verses in the Tanakh suggest that God is already near. Feintuch said this again negates the need for a Jesus-like Messiah.

Feintuch concluded his discussion by again pointing to the ties between each faith: both are waiting. Christians are waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus, while Jews are waiting for a Messiah. Both believe these comings will be a timely response to the world’s condition, both believe these comings will bring with them love, peace and justice.

Share your responses: Who do you think Jesus is?

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The nation’s largest Protestant body, the Southern Baptist Convention, concludes its 2009 annual meeting in Louisville today. The meeting has been a forum for messengers to discuss pivotal issues in the Baptist community. Several of these resolutions include congratulating President Obama on his election and dismissing the comments of Rev. Wiley Drake, a pastor at First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., when he told Fox News he prays for Obama’s death. By and large, the issue of declining membership in the church will be central to the discussions.

The SBC was established in Augusta, Ga., in 1845 and now boasts 16 million members. The title refers to the denomination itself as well as its annual convention. The denomination comprises more than 42,000 churches, and 11 ministries carry out the SBC’s financial and business functions at the annual convention. Towers Online offers an excellent primer on the convention and describes the hierarchical structure and processes of the SBC. The SBC churches outline their beliefs in “The Baptist Faith and Message.” Conversion and baptism are central to the Southern Baptist faith, which historically has increased its numbers through performing adult baptisms and sending missionaries overseas.

The Rev. Brian W. Evans of Calvary Baptist Church acknowledged that the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message effectively delineates what Baptists like him believe, and he would like to see an equivalent doctrinal statement from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a more moderate Baptist fellowship of 1,800 churches, which he has yet to see. “I have reasons for what I believe, and it’s not just because the SBC says it.”

The Missouri Baptist Convention is affiliated with the national SBC body, which comprises conventions from all 50 states. A state Baptist convention is divided into several regional components, called associations, and the city of Columbia is part of the Little Bonne Femme Baptist Association. This association of 20 churches works independent of any national group. It includes churches that identify themselves with the Southern Baptist Convention, the American Baptist Association, the Baptist General Convention of Missouri and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Bill Marshall, president of the Little Bonne Femme Baptist Association, is a member of Cornerstone Baptist Church, which was dismissed from the SBC and the Missouri Baptist Convention several years ago, along with First Baptist Church and Little Bonne Femme Baptist Church, due to its ties with moderate entities.

The Southern Baptist Association gives each church its own freedom to carry out its ministry the way it wants to, Pastor Evans said. He cautions against placing too much blame on the convention’s “reluctance to change.”

“The problem is that most churches are so traditional and rooted in how they’ve ‘always done things’ that they tend to hold certain styles as sacred that are truly just preferences from a previous generation,” Evans said in an e-mail statement.

This perceived restrictive theology, coupled with the economic downturn, contributed to the SBC’s decline, Bill Marshall said. It seems that people aren’t able to give as much as they used to, and also they see things happening in the church that they don’t like and decide to worship elsewhere, he said.

More than 4,000 members have signed a newly drafted manifesto called The Great Commission Resurgence, which outlines tenets of the Baptist faith in 10 articles and affirms the convention’s biblical convictions. SBC President Johnny M. Hunt makes a video endorsement of the manifesto on its main website, suggesting that the main fault of contemporary Southern Baptist churches is an underemphasis on personal evangelism.

One article has stirred controversy among members of the SBC, some who oppose the suggested fusion of the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board. Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC executive committee, has publicly expressed his disapproval of article IX.

Pastor Evans said he wouldn’t be surprised if such a merger were necessary. Frank Page, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, posited that half of the nation’s Baptist churches will close their doors by 2030 if the church doesn’t reconsider its strategies, according to a May 28 article in the Christian Index.

Evans boasted that his church has been a “Switzerland,” sharing an affiliation in the Baptist community that edges toward bipartisanship. Although Calvary Baptist Church is officially affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and no one has seemed to be uncomfortable with this designation, some members of the congregation have beliefs that are more linked with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Although such a dynamic has caused the Missouri Baptist Convention to rescind its affiliation with churches in the past, as Marshall described, Calvary continues to share close ties with the SBC and the state entity.

A movement toward non-denominational status is becoming more apparent in churches, Bill Marshall said, so that people may be more free, or at least feel more able, to make their own decisions.

“One of our biggest principles is that each believer can define for themselves their relationship to God. If churches will share this love and freedom with other people, they won’t have any problem with membership.”

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Americans have witnessed the closure of many print publications and newspapers, which has caused a great decline in employment. This decline has affected numerous of journalists and reporters, but Micheal Wolfe emphasizes that the loose of newspapers and print media is hindering the Muslim Americans from communicating with the rest of the world. Follow this link for full coverage of the story; http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/05/01/wolfe.new.media/index.html?eref=rss_topstories.

According the CNN’s website, a U.S. government panel listed 13 countries as “egregious” violators of religious freedom. On Friday, May 1, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s annual report named Myanmar, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. The U.S. Commission suggested that President Obama keep an eye on these countries.

Another list of countries were chosen for President Obama to take watch over. These countries includes Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Venezuela. According to the website, the ‘watch’ countries don’t rise to the level of a CPC but need to be monitored. Follow the following link for more information; http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/05/01/religious.freedom/index.html?eref=rss_topstories.

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It seems as if same-sex-marriage is the biggest debate in the church today. Whether Baptist or Catholic, congregations around the country are either protesting or supporting the idea of same-sex couples in God’s sanctuary.

In January, a group of black homosexual men refused Pastor Rick Warren to speak at Ebenezer Baptist Church’s M.L.K. church service. According to the online article, Pastor Rick Warren is not a homophobic, he does not condone “gays using the term marriage for their partnership.”http://www.washingtonblade.com/2009/1-9/news/national/13878.cfm

The black coalition said that Pastor Warren was only creating a greater division in the church between the different racial and sexual communities.“Bestowing Rev. Warren such a prominent role does not foster greater understanding between divided communities,” the gay coalition said. The year before, President Obama was the guest speaker, and he spoke upon the homophobic separation in the black communities and churches.

In the end, Ebenezer’s pastor agreed with the coalition and did not allow Pastor Warrent to speak at the annual service. His purpose of agreement was to set a positive example to the community and nation, especially since this a well-known and televised event.

An online poll by Pew Forum showed that 55% of people oppose same-sex marriages. http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=290

When the poll was first taken in 2003, 53% of people oppose to homosexual couples compared to the 36% that support it.Polls show that frequency of worship service attendance is a factor in the opposition to gay marriage.

The graph presented in the article is based on the different demographic characteristics, such as; religion, age, race, and political parties. According to the graph and article, the various demographics play a crucial role when supporting or opposing homosexuality. The graph reveals that opposition to gay marriage is most pronounced among older Americans, with more than two-thirds (67%) of those age 65 and older opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage. Although, roughly half of all adults under age 30 (49%) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples.

Regardless of sexuality, same-sex supporters argue that they should not be treated any differently to heterosexual couples. Homosexuals say that they are being discriminated against, similar to racial or religious segregation. But what does the Bible say? Although there is a law in existence, will Pastors continue to abide by the man-made regulations, or will they continue to live and guide their congregation by what is written in the Bible (God-made law)?

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