Dear Congregational Family,

1. The Blessing of Good Habits: These past two weeks, while I was dealing with COVID-19, I experienced tremendous upheaval of life! Every routine was upended. I even had to remind myself to do simple, ordinary things that had been habits or second nature just a few days earlier. We don’t usually think of the many “routine” things that we do, and that is just the point. We don’t have to think about them; we just do them. Habits are immensely effective and efficient in helping us do important things. Studies have found that up to 40 percent of our daily actions are not products of our choices, but of our habits. Once we establish a habit (whether accidentally or intentionally), that habit becomes formational for us. Habits form what we do, but perhaps even more importantly, they form what we love. Philosopher James Smith wrote about this in his book, “You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit.” Smith reveals how our hearts grow to love what we do. Education is what we know, but FORMATION is what we practice and DO (Justin Earley). These last 1 ½ years with COVID-19, have upended many people’s good spiritual habits. Let me encourage you to take a moment to reflect and to re-establish habits that will help you care for the health of your soul, because what you do ends up becoming what your heart loves.

2. Congregational Annual Meeting: The meetings will be held on Sunday, November 21st, immediately following both morning worship services. The purpose of these meetings is to present the 2022 Budget to the congregation for a vote of approval. The Council approved it at their October meeting and will now bring it before the congregation. Thank you so much to Ron Thorhauer, Bill Ward, and the Finance Committee for all their work on this over the past many months. All members of the congregation are encouraged to attend a meeting.

3. Veterans Day: WWI ended with the signing of the armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day, of the 11th month in 1918. Today the day is known and celebrated as Veterans Day and includes the honoring of all military veterans. As a nation we enjoy great freedoms, and they have been preserved to us by the service and sacrifice of so many. Thank you, veterans! We will be honoring our veterans this Sunday.

4. An epidemic of suicide: Last month, the Christian Post reported the following, written by Dr. Matthew Sleeth, author of “Hope Always: How to Be a Force for Life in a Culture of Suicide,” which Tyndale House Publishers released in May, 2021:

“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill abruptly canceled classes in an effort to stop the spread of an epidemic. It is not COVID-19. Nonetheless, the deadly disease they were trying to stop is now the second leading cause of death in college- and high school-aged individuals. No immunization is available to stop it, nor will one ever be. There are no nasal, blood, or other quick tests that can screen for the disease.

Classes were canceled in an effort to prevent a suicide outbreak — or ‘suicide cluster.’ This year, 10 million Americans will wrestle with whether or not to end their lives. One and a half million will be seen in emergency departments for suicide attempts and ideation. Every 11 seconds someone attempts suicide. America’s suicide rate now ties the all-time high experienced in the Great Depression of the 1930s: 14.5 per 100,000 per year.

[Dr. Sleeth goes on to write] … the concept of faith was introduced to those of us who attended medical school several decades ago as we studied suicide. This happened even though most of my professors and students like me (at the time) were atheists. Why? Because since Emile Durkheim’s 1897 study of suicide, it has been known that people who have a committed belief in God are four to six times less likely to die by suicide than atheists. In medical school, I was taught that humans are a combination of mind, body, and soul; today, discussion of the soul has been subtracted.

Recently, I submitted an op-ed for Suicide Prevention Week to my city’s newspaper. It ended as follows: ‘Society can continue to try and prevent suicide by doing more of what is not working. But I believe it is time to start allowing things like faith, God, love, and even the concept of suicide as a moral wrong back into our approach to suicide prevention.’ The editor responded, ‘Just read through the op-ed, and the only problem is at the end, where he brings up suicide as a moral wrong.’ Apparently, in our brave new world, suicide as a moral wrong is news unfit to print.

Canceling classes is fine, but our suicide problem is much bigger than a day off can solve. Perhaps living in an age where a physician can no longer express the opinion that suicide is morally wrong is one of the reasons our country’s youth are deciding that life is not worth living.”

5. Sermon: Sermon Title: “Is the END of TIME near?”
Sermon Text: Daniel 12:1-4; Mark 13:1-13

Growing Together in our Faith as the Family of God,

Pastor Carlson