Amber Congregational Church - To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose.
The ShoreLight - Amber Church Newsletter
November 2018

An Act of God

   It has always been a little unsettling for me to describe the natural disasters of life (hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts, floods, etc.) as “acts of God.”  I recognize that this is a term used legally to define something that cannot be foreseen or prevented, thus no one can be held responsible for it.  Yet people do seem to find in all of these a guilty party, someone to blame, and that someone is God.  He could have done something, and should have done something, but he didn’t and everyone suffers as a result.  What kind of a God acts like this?

   We have seen the devastation caused in our own country by the recent hurricanes that battered our southern shores, two in particular caused tremendous damage with high winds, rain and flooding.  Were Florence and Michael “acts of God?”  And if so, what is God doing or saying?  Does he even care?

   Now certainly we have had a number of tragedies that are clearly caused by humans.  They may be accidental or premeditated but a guilty party can be identified.  Just this last week the news reported that 189 lost their lives in the airplane crash off the coast of Jakarta, Indonesia; 11 were killed and 6 others wounded in the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA; 1 student was killed in the school shooting at Butler High School in Matthews, NC; 15 pipe bombs were sent to different people each of whom had been critical of President Trump; and over 100 Roman Catholic priests in the Buffalo diocese who have been guilty of sexual abuse have been protected and their cases covered up by Bishop Malone.  These are all illustrations of human failure.  There is a person or persons that can be and should be identified and held accountable.  In a just world that should happen.  But is there justice in our world?  Can there be justice without God?  And if we find that God is guilty too where can we turn but to some form of self-protection, of me against you, us against them?  What a fearful mess we live in.

   And in the midst of all of this we are told, Sunday after Sunday, to trust in a loving God.  We cannot see life as he sees it or understand the complexities of cause and effect when we lack so much of the information needed for an objective perspective.  Is the best explanation that we can come up with be “an act of God?” 

   Clearly we all need to refocus and rethink things periodically.  Our Church retreat provided an opportunity for that this past week.  I came away with the realization that I often miss what God is doing in the world, even those things, especially those things, that are right in front of me.  I am prone to see a tragedy and ask the wrong question and draw the wrong conclusion. This is what the disciples did in the story in John 9.  They come upon a person blind from birth and they asked Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2).  They wanted correction, they wanted justice, they wanted a guilty party to blame. Their question was a theoretical one, even a theological one, but they didn’t have eyes to see the person in front of them who was in need.  The response of Jesus was, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life….We must do the work of him who sent me.” (John 9:3-4). 

   Some may read this Scripture and think that they are off the hook; it isn’t their sin that caused the problem.  Others might respond with outrage that no one is being held accountable; Boeing has no responsibility for one of their newly build planes going down; the gunmen in Pittsburgh, PA and Matthews, NC get off without culpability; the bomb builder didn’t hurt anyone; and even the priests slide through covered by some kind of “greater good” that they provide.  But that isn’t what Jesus said either.  He said that God could be glorified in any and all circumstances if we have eyes to see him and if we join in the work that he is doing in the world right now.  His work is healing, enlightening, providing, and yes, forgiving.  And it is our work too.

   November is thanksgiving season.  It is time to open our eyes to see not just the heartaches of the world but to see what God is doing in the person in front of you.  Do we see what he is doing in our little church in drawing people to himself, in bringing peace out of conflict and beauty out of ashes.  Sunday Worship is the weekly reminder that we need to refocus our lives on Jesus so we can join him in the work of God.  See you in Worship.

 Amber Congregational Church Church Officers (2018)

Board of Elders   (3 year terms)
     term expiring 2019 - Cathy Smith, Sherry Persad, Deb O’Brien
     term expiring 2020 - Carl Barber, Mark Henderson, Sally Wilson
     term expiring 2021 - James Frary

Board of Trustees   (3 year terms)
    term expiring 2019 - Cheryl Curtis, Jeff Southard, Terry Wheeler
    term expiring 2020 - David Heath, Jack Seymour, Matt Henderson,
                                      Chuck Harris
    term expiring 2021 - Mike Curtis, Teal Trendowski

Ministry Directors   (3 year terms)
     Christian Education Director (2019) - Sue Ellen Harris
     Outreach Director (2020) - Cathy Smith
     Worship Director (2021) - Nancy Barber

Nominating Committee  (2 year terms)
     term expiring 2019 - David Angelo, Mark Henderson (Chairperson)
     term expiring 2020 - Deb O’Brien, Teal Trendowski, Cindy Casler

Other Officers  (1 year terms expiring 2019)
    Clerk - Cheryl Curtis
    Treasurer - Gail Frary
    Financial Secretary - Faith Stopyro
    Financial Assistant – Jenn Schultz
    Ministerial Relations Chairman - Mike Curtis

Samaritan Fund Committee  (2 year terms)
     term expiring 2019 - Jim Frary, Matt Henderson  (appointed from the
                                       Elders and Trustees)
     term expiring 2020 - Faith Stopyro  (elected by congregation),  Sally
                                       Wilson, Cheryl Curtis  (appointed from the Elders and
     permanent members - Rick Chaffee, Cathy Smith  (Minister and Outreach

Other 1 Year Appointed Positions (1 year terms expiring in 2019)
    Overseer of Greeters - Deb O’Brien  (appointed by the Worship Director)
    Overseer of Acolytes and Nursery – Nancy Barber  (appointed by the
                                       Worship Director)
    Librarian – Cheryl Curtis  (appointed by the Education Director)
    Historian – Sally Wilson  (appointed by the Clerk)

Appointed Positions by the Trustees  (indefinite term)
    Janitor - Rich McVicar
    Music Director - Lois Chaffee


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