Dear Floris Family,

On Wednesday morning I heard a segment onthe radio about the growing number of Americans who no longer believe in God. The interviews all had a common theme. People had experienced great tragedy in their life: the death of a spouse or a child, often by very sudden and violent means, such as an accident or homicide. During their grief, well-intentioned Christians shared with them phrases that were supposed to be comforting, such as “you have to accept that this was God’s will,” or “he’s in a better place now.” This left these individuals angry at a religion that would associate God’s will with the violent and tragic death of their loved one and unable to believe in the God that was being described. Some had no belief in God before these tragedies. Others left their church and faith after considering what was said to them in the midst of their grief.

What intrigued me is that while those interviewed shared what people had said to them, none shared what people had done for them during their time of grief. So often the love we show in times of crisis is not the words we speak, but the kindness, patience and understanding we demonstrate in our actions for others and our silence while they share their grief. Many of you have shared with me how your faith has been sustained and even expanded by the love of the church community. Meals that were brought to your home, conversations that included thoughtful words of encouragement but were void of easy clichs, cards sent and quiet acts of kindness were means of God’s grace and an expression of the upholding arms of God in your times of distress and grief. After listening to those interviews on the radio, it occurred how very important the ministry of every Christian is to others, and how God can use us to communicate love and kindness, especially in times of hardship. Sadly, tragedy is in plentiful supply in our personal lives and nation, which means that we have great opportunity to minister to others and receive the ministry of love others offer to us.

This week we are going to look at 1 Corinthians 13, Paul’s famous treatise on the nature of love. This is a powerful and beautiful passage. When applied to our lives, it has the ability to change our relationships and possibly lead others to see the beauty of God in ways that open them to the possibility of having a faith in Christ that is a blessing to their life.

Christmas Eve Offering
In case you missed worship this week (or attended the 8 AM service, where I forgot to announce it! Sorry about that…) the Christmas Eve offering totaled $177,402. Many thanks for your generosity; it will bless hundreds of people in the coming year.

The Old Testament in Two Hours
Come join me in hearing our 3rd Wesley Seminary Speaker, Dr. Bruce Birch, on January 29 at 7 PM in Fellowship Hall. If you have ever found the Old Testament to be disconnected or confusing, come hear Dr. Birch share his “Old Testament in Two Hours.” He will provide the chronology and common threads that tie these books together.

Chocolate Festival
Planning for the Saturday, February 9, Chocolate Festival is in full swing. This year proceeds will benefit Help Hungry Kids and other efforts that support children in poverty. The silent auction theme is “Rest and Relaxation.” If you would like to help with the festival or donate to the silent auction, visit our website.

Help Make Floris’ Grounds Beautiful
This Saturday morning at 8 AM volunteers are gathering to work on the Floris grounds, pruning trees and cutting back perennials. We can use your help to make our church grounds beautiful. Please bring work gloves, rakes, pruning shears, hedge trimmers and weed eaters. Coffee and doughnuts will be provided. Contact Rick Sherbert for more information.

Parking Shuttles on Sunday
The Floris parking shuttle from the Network Solutions/XO Communications parking lotwill be available before and after the 11 AM service again this Sunday. Please consider parking offsite. Your efforts will help make Floris a welcoming place for everyone, members and guests alike.

This Week in Worship
Join us Sunday as we continue with our sermon series, Sustaining Relationships. Love is not simply a feeling or emotion that we express when in the mood, love is a skill we develop through disciplined effort. Paul’s reflection on the nature of love in 1 Corinthians is familiar to most of us. We will consider what it offers related to “Best Practices for Healthy Relationships.” Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13.

In Christ,
– Tom

The post eNote from Rev. Tom Berlin – January 17, 2013 appeared first on Today I Saw God.