“LIVING AND SHARING THE GOSPEL”
December 17, 2017
“I Adore You”
“Hark The Herald Angels Sing”
“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”
Prayers of Intercession
SERMON – David Perry DVD
The Arrival of Emanuel
“Praise The Name of Jesus“
Worship God in Spirit and Truth
Grow in His Grace and Knowledge
Share the Love and Hope we have in Christ.
Joseph and Tammy Tkach
I became a fan of English author, philologist and poet, J.R.R. Tolkien after reading The Hobbit and its sequel, the epic three-volume novel, The Lord of the Rings. Among other literary achievements, Tolkien in his fantasy books constructed the grammar and vocabulary of at least 15 languages and dialects, the most-developed being the one spoken by his Elves. Though the extent of his literary achievements is amazing, what impresses me most is what lies behind those achievements—Tolkien’s appreciation and love for the goodness of God.
J.R.R. Tolkien (source)
Though he avoided direct references to Christian doctrine in his books, Tolkien pointed people in that direction by connecting fantasy to the realities of the human condition in a fallen world. Who among us hasn’t had to deal with a Troll or two? Who hasn’t found a special place of peace and tranquility? Not only does Tolkien deal with these human realities (along with bravery, sacrifice, hospitality, honor, beauty and love)—he also indirectly points his readers to transcendent realities. For example, in The Two Towers (the second volume in The Lord of the Rings trilogy), Tolkien utilizes the imagery of light breaking into darkness—imagery that mirrors the Light of the World coming into a dark, sin-sick world via the Incarnation.
In one of his letters, Tolkien wrote that, “the incarnation of God is an infinitely greater thing than anything I would dare to write” (Letter 237).
Thus, it is no surprise that Tolkien, the great story teller, was enamored with the Incarnation, for it is the greatest story ever told! For the substance and reality of that story, we rely not on Tolkien, but on the writers of the New Testament Gospels like the apostle John, who began his Gospel with these evocative words:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5, NRSV)
Though Tolkien’s fantasy novels do not tell the complete Christian story, they are full of themes he hoped would prepare people to hear the Christian gospel. What I especially appreciate is the way The Lord of the Rings trilogy points out the reality of good and evil, the power and temptation of sin, and the fact that everyone needs redemption. If you read the trilogy or watch the movies based on it, you’ll encounter dark and heavy moments where good people suffer, and some give in to the darkness of evil. Yet you’ll also find that no matter how far a character might fall, Tolkien shows there is always hope—always opportunity for redemption.
Scene from the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (source)
Another thing I like about Tolkien’s stories is the way they refute the dualistic idea of the separation of body and spirit (soul). In pointing to the dynamic unity of body and spirit, Tolkien undermines philosophies (such as naturalism and Gnosticism) that separate body and spirit. In doing so, he indirectly opens a door for his readers to consider that the Incarnation (the union of the uncreated Son of God with created human nature) might be possible. The heroes of his stories represent real people who live as “embodied souls,” and “ensouled bodies” (as Karl Barth put it). Tolkien’s characters appreciate good ale, a simple meal and enduring fellowship, all the while taking seriously the universal obligations of the good, and the real dangers of the evil.
Some people worry that fantasy novels like Tolkien’s risk perverting good theology. But that would be true only if we were to look to such books as sources of theology. The fact of the matter is that they are not. Tolkien never intended his trilogy to be more than a prequel to the biblical gospel. His goal was to point out the questions, problems and challenges in life, not to provide answers that come only through biblical revelation.
Tolkien cleverly directs a secular world away from the naturalism and nihilism that is so prevalent in our world, towards the biblical world of moral meaning and personal relationship with the living God of intervening grace.
His overarching message is that no matter what adversity we face in this world with its darkness, a real and transcendent goodness (light) is still present and prevailing.
No matter how far astray we might have gone from that light, there is hope of restoration. The overall conclusion of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy is that this hope exists no matter what we face.
The apostle Paul draws a similar conclusion in his letter to the churches in Rome:
And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5, NRSV)
Tolkien understood a powerful truth, which he pointed to in his writings: The Incarnation is the best story that can be told. We celebrate that story in a special way during the Advent-Christmas season.
I love to tell the story,
†† Pastor’s Corner ††
Pastor David Perry & Jonnie
Jonnie and I wish each of you a very blessed and Christ centered Christmas. May your celebration be filled with awe & adoration of your Lord Jesus Christ. You are loved and appreciated! Please enjoy this article by GCI Pastor, Rick Shallenberger
“God became a man. Somehow the words don’t seem to do justice to the reality.
It’s really hard to imagine God becoming a man.
It’s hard to imagine the Son of God who has lived for eternity with all power and glory, taking off his robe of light and putting on pigmented human flesh.
It’s hard to imagine the creator of all things entering the womb of a young Jewish girl and nestling there for nine months.
It’s hard to imagine God limiting himself in the same time and space as every other person.
It’s hard to imagine God choosing to be born in a cave (or shelter) and be bedded on straw, and have shepherds greet him.
It’s hard to imagine God having parents, who were in amazement as they watched those lowly shepherds worship their son.
It’s hard to imagine God sleeping, and crying, and needing to be fed, and then changed, and then fed again.
It’s hard to imagine God depending on a human being for his life support.
It’s hard to imagine God having his cries soothed and his nose wiped as he was going through the pain of teething.
It’s hard to imagine that God wanted to understand every part of our life so he could better relate to us, and so we could believe him when he says, “I understand.”
It’s hard, because it’s sometimes easier to think of God as the untouchable glorious, and Holy One who is “out there somewhere” rather than a God who comes to us to be in relationship with us and to be in communion with us.
It’s hard to imagine God loves us as much as he does. So it’s very hard to imagine why we’d ever let Christ out of Christmas.”
Go Tell It On The Mountain & Everywhere
That Jesus loves Everyone! Pastor David
Prayers for our Country and Pres. Trump
Prayers for the Body of Christ World Wide
Our Persecuted Christian Brothers & Sisters Around The World
Local Prayer Requests
JW Holmes-(friend of Vicki Auxier) has leukemia Dr’s say two years to live.
Mary Coffey, prayers for healing, strength & encouragement.
Jerry Hudson, PRAISE new med. is helping him. Pray for complete healing
Anita – (niece of Barb Hudson) – very serious illness needs treatment & healing
Other Prayer Requests
Janis Beck – Complete healing of cellulitis
Kathy Ennis – Sees her doctor this Monday to see if she can have boot removed on her foot following surgery.
Anita Franz – Bruised rib
Jim Wood – Severe case of psoriasis
Harriett Cox – Recovery from recent fall
Chuck Davison – Prayers for a safe trip to Georgia to visit family
Doug Whitlock – He is home now – prayers for recovery from health issues
Richard Cravens’ Family Prayers of comfort and blessing after the loss of Richard
Jim & Donna Dunbar – Prayers for safe travels to Florida
Joseph & Georgette Franklin, Our Haiti Church & School– Prayers for safety & blessing & provision.
Joe & Tammy Tkach – Protection, safety, wisdom & encouragement
Our Persecuted Christian Brothers and Sisters Around The World
For Divine Appointments To Touch Others With Jesus’ Life & Love