This year we are looking back on the last millennium in church history. Each month we will open a window on an important event from one of the last ten centuries. As an added attraction, our Hymn of the Month will usually be taken from the same century. Perhaps you have noticed that we sing our hymn for February—“Of the Father’s Love Begotten”—to a plainsong melody from the 12th century.
Many observers are starting to call the 21st century the “Biotech Century.” Recent advances in biology and technology suggest that in the next one hundred years human beings will have unprecedented opportunities to create, manipulate, and destroy themselves.
One good reason to take a backwards glance at the last millennium is to remind ourselves that church history did not begin with the Protestant Reformation in Europe. By the providence of God, the Reformation rediscovered the gospel for our times. But of course people were repenting for their sins and trusting in Jesus Christ for their salvation centuries before Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenburg church.
The Rykens are trying to grow tulips again this spring. It has become an annual act of piety for us, in part because it is a family tradition. Believe it or not, my Dutch grandfather used to help plant a hundred thousand bulbs every year in preparation for Tulip Time. He had to dig them back up again, too, and store them over the winter.
Easter Sunday is a good time to remember that Christianity is based on history. The Christian faith is not a list of moral principles or a set of theological ideas, it is the true story of what God has actually done in this world to save his people.
I am sometimes asked which translation of the Bible I recommend. If you have visited a bookstore recently, you know there are dozens of versions to choose from. The old standard is still the King James Version (KJV), first printed in 1611 and used here at the Tenth Presbyterian Church until relatively recently.
It will be a long time before America forgets Columbine High School. Almost two weeks ago now, a couple of seniors at the school tried to blow away as many of their classmates as they could. By the time they were finished, they had tossed or planted almost fifty bombs, squeezed off a thousand rounds of ammunition, and killed fifteen human beings, including themselves.