Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Oakwood Opens Church to Community Funeral

I got this as an email from my "brother" Bobby. I thought it deserved sharing.

The second of four funerals for students killed when a school bus plummeted over a highway overpass in Huntsville, Ala earlier this week (11/20/06) was held Saturday morning.

Natasha Lee, 17, was one of four girls who died when the bus went over a guardrail and dropped 30 feet to the ground.

Forty Lee High School students and Scott (bus driver) were on the school bus Monday morning when a car came up on a side lane and evidently hit the bus.

This rest of this story will probably never be on CNN but I want to share it you my relatives and friends. I attended the funeral. No, I didn't know this young lady. I was in town visiting my brother's family. There are some events that touches your heart and reaffirms that society has a good heart. . . .

Oakwood College Church of Seventh-day Adventist. Oakwood College Church CANCELLED their worship service to host the funeral of this young lady that didn't have a church home. That is truly unheard of. It has given me new strength in the Adventist Church. Too often we TALK the talk but sometimes do not WALK the WALK. For this reason, I chose to attend the funeral to support the family. Now all believers were not rejoicing of this act of love opening up to the community====not having 'church service'=====. I think of the text in Luke 14 where Jesus was questioned about doing good (healing people) on the Sabbath. He didn't answer at first, but simply said, "It is lawful to?..." He checked the Pharisees and they didn't say anything not wanting to be trapped in their answers. There was at least two members of Oakwood Church who didn't get the word and arrived at the church for Sabbath School. They voiced how upset they were that it was canceled for a funeral and went away boiling. Are we about service or not?

In a nutshell, this is what I experienced: The viewing of the body was between 9-10. There were choirs from various SDA Churches, soloists, instrumentalist, duets that gave a continued musical without any introductions of the groups. I was fueled before the service even begun.

The one hour service was filled with hope and inspiration. Good music, and good words. The Academy Choir sang two numbers performing it as if they were in Madison Square Garden. A high school school and a college student sang "A Better Day" making it sound like a brand new song. I almost went up for an uncalled altar called after they were finished. It was powerful. The eulogy in it's purest since was a sermon. Pastor Newborne preached about Job and how God permitted bad things to happened YET he trust in God. I was more blessed by this service than a many services I attended in 2005. Present were the mayor of the city, two councilmen, superintendent of schools, principal of Lee high school, and many other dignitaries from the city and community; two TV news stations. All gather into an Adventist church on a Sabbath morning where nothing but hospitality and love was felt.

Oakwood opened their church home for the funeral and fed them after she was buried; the funeral home donated the casket and all that goes with that; the burial plot at a the most prestigious cemetery was also donated.

I'm glad that I experienced it and from all facial expression of the family of the deceased, they were overwhelmed by the Christian love received.

Kudos to the SDA Church.

Willie S. Parker

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Newest Global Vessels Video

Here's a copy of the latest Global Vessels Presentation.

This is a short version....with voice over. Many thanks to Jena Martin for all her hard work and patience with me on the script.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Last Word

Saw this post today....thought I'd share.

No One Can Have the Last Word on God
by Karen Armstrong (as posted to

In ancient India, the priests used to hold a contest called the Brahmodya to find a verbal formula that expressed the mystery of the Brahman, the ultimate reality. Each contestant would ask an enigmatic question, and his opponent answered in an equally elusive manner.

The match continued until one of the contestants was unable to respond and was reduced to silence ~ and in that moment of silence, the Brahman was present. It was only when the competitors understood that their words or concepts could never express the ultimate reality that they were able to apprehend the sacred.

The reality that we call God, Brahman, Nirvana or the sacred is transcendent. That is, it goes beyond our mundane experience. Nobody can have the last word on God. That should be the principle that underlies religious dialogue. Throughout history, Jews, Christians and Muslims have all insisted that the ideas we have about the divine can never measure up to the reality itself. The Greek Orthodox believed that every statement about the divine should have two qualities. It should be paradoxical, reminding us that the idea of God cannot fit neatly into a human system of thought; and it should be apophatic ~ it should reduce us to silence, in the same way as a great poem or piece of music. Sometimes at the end of a symphony, there is a beat of silence in the concert hall before applause starts. That is what every theological statement should do. In the modern West, we have lost sight of this apophatic vision, and imagine that our statements about God and the ultimate are accurate expressions of this transcendence, whereas in reality, they must point beyond the limitations of our human minds.

So when we are engaged in religious dialogue, we should remember that the realities we are addressing are truly transcendent. If we make our limited ideas about God absolute, we are creating an idol --a human expression of the divine that is raised to an inappropriately high level. The Qur’an calls this type of dogmatism zannah, self- indulgent guess work about matters that nobody can prove, one way or the other, but which make people quarrelsome and stupidly sectarian.

Worse, if we imprison ourselves in our dogmatic ideas, we are closing our minds to the divine. The Taoists used to say that it was nonsense to argue about religious truth, insisting aggressively that this could not mean that. What holds us back from an experience of God or the Sacred is our egotism. When we interject ourselves too much into our opinions, we are simply imprisoning ourselves in the ego we are supposed to transcend and making it impossible to have a truly transcendent experience.

Finally, here is a wise remark by Ibn al-Arabi, a 13th-century Muslim mystic and philosopher:

“Do not praise your own faith exclusively so that you disbelieve all the rest. If you do this, you will miss the truth of the matter. God, the omnipresent and omniscient, cannot be confined to any one creed, for he says: Wheresoever ye turn, there is the face of Allah. Everybody praises what he knows. His God is his own creature and in praising it, he praises himself, which he would not do if he were just, but his dislike is based on ignorance.”

Posted by Karen Armstrong on November 14, 2006 9:30 PM