Bible Classes at church are suspended until further notice.
Beginning Wednesday, April 1, at 12 noon, there will be a conference call Bible class on "Favorite Hymns of Faith" hosted by Scott. Please note that the scheduled class on archaeology is postponed, not cancelled.
The call-in number is 712-451-0461. When prompted, enter the access number 793869. There is no charge for the call-in service; the cost to you is only what an hour of long distance usage on your phone plan is, whether it be cellular or land line. Several of last year's Breakfast Class members have already responded that they are participating, but there still are plenty of open conference lines for you to dial in at the last minute. Scott will begin taking participants' calls at 11:50.
After exchanging pleasantries and how we're dealing with the virus problem, our first topic will be the hymn "Amazing Grace." We'll be focusing on the backstory and the lyrics, so don't worry, this is not a sing-a-long. In preparation for our conversation, I have summarized the backstory of this popular hymn and its author John Newton:
John Newton was born in the early seventeen hundreds to a British merchant marine captain and his wife. John's mother was a devout Christian and taught him Bible stories and verses at an early age. She had in mind he would become a minister some day. Before John was seven his mother passed away. His father being at sea 24/7, John had to enter a boarding school. After three years he went to serve with his father on his ship. Then followed nine years of wild living as a seaman, taking him to the depths of depravity and debauchery.
The British Navy impressed him into service, but he had a hard time with authority, and deserted. He was flogged and returned to service. He was surprised that his plea to be discharged from the navy was granted by the ship's captain. Then started the second phase of his life, a task master aboard a slave ship. Slaves were packed 220-250 on two decks on a small ship, "like books upon two shelves" was one analogy. John was a drunk, and abusive not only to the slaves, but his fellow crew as well.
But the seeds of his mother's teaching suddenly grew. He came across a copy of "Imitators of Christ" by Thomas a Kempas. One night his ship was in a violent storm and threatened to break apart. Newton called to God and made his peace with Him, bringing up those verses his mom had taught him. In 1750 he resigned from his job on the slave ship, married, and studied for the ministry. (Mom's prayer!)
John Newton wrote three hundred hymns for his congregation, as he believed music is a vehicle of the Gospel. In 1779 he wrote "Faith Renewed and Expectation." Later this was renamed "Amazing Grace." The epitaph on his tombstone reads:
ONCE THE INFIDEL AND LIBERTINE
A SERVANT OF SLAVES IN AFRICA
WAS BY THE RICH MERCY
OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST
PRESERVED RESTORED PARDONED
AND APPOINTED TO PREACH THE FAITH
HE HAD LONG LABORED TO DESTROY