-- Genesis 51:19-21
Dear Friends of Atonement,
Happy New Year! We made it to 2018! Hope it’s going well so far.
Again and again I’ve heard people say, “At least 2018 has got to be better than 2017…” Last year certainly did have its challenges -- every year does. But in 2017 we had hurricanes roar through the area, a beloved bishop leave office, struggles finding the right plan for our new building, issues with our old building and trouble with the brand new freezer unit, and just too many old friends leaving us… I could go on, but I’m sure you have your own list.
And then I remember Joseph – the guy with the “coat of many colors.” Beaten and left for dead by his own brothers, falsely accused of sexual misconduct, thrown into a foreign prison and forgotten by his friends, Joseph must have wondered why God was putting him through all this. Yet he never lost his faith.It took a while, but finally Joseph was recognized as “one who has the Spirit of the Lord.” He was brought before the king, and God gave him the key to understanding the king’s mysterious dream. Joseph knew that God was saying through that dream that the land was about to experience a severe drought and famine. When the king hears that, immediately he makes Joseph his chief steward, manager of all his resources. Joseph goes from jail to being the world’s second most powerful man – talk about rags to riches!
But God’s real gift to Joseph wasn’t the wealth He put under Joseph’s control. It was all the lives he was able to save by being a good steward. He was able to use the king’s money and grain not only to save the kingdom, but also to save those brothers of his who beat him and left him for dead. True, Joseph couldn’t resist messing with them a little when they came seeking his help (see Genesis 42-45), but ultimately he forgave them, took care of them and their families, and gave all the glory to God!
However beat up you feel by 2017, I pray that 2018 will be a turnaround year in your life. As God’s faithful people, we live in the hope of his promises. Whatever life’s struggles, we are carried onward by the one who loves us. He is there through the highs and lows, in times of laughter and of tears. We go from Christ to Christ, whose candle was lit at our baptism and will be lit as we go to glory. Along the way, He makes us his stewards here in the kingdom of this earth, so we might be like Joseph and share our resources, our forgiveness and our love with all in need.
Last month, we shared that Atonement is still behind in our general fund and asked people to look again at increasing their giving. We thank you for hearing our appeal and doing just that! December’s giving was within $400 of our giving goal for the month, which brought our general fund deficit down to $12,335…the lowest it’s been for quite a while.
We have a ways to go till we become stewards as good as Joseph. He spent seven years storing up enough surplus grain to see the whole kingdom through the hard years of famine. But with your help we continue growing our ministries and finding new ways to care for the spiritually and physically hungry who come to us. Thank you for growing in stewardship, and for your faithful giving which is helping more and more people know and experience God’s love.
P.S. If you haven’t already, make your reservation to join us for the installation of our new bishop, Pedro Suarez, Jan. 20 at noon at St. Mark’s Catholic Church 9724 Cross Creek Blvd. in New Tampa. Our own Esthel Kane and Nicholas Trejo will be in the opening procession. Call the synod office at (813) 876-7660 or go to http://fbsynod.com/installation/