October 2021 Newsletter

A Word from the Pastor: The Apocalypse

Lately, I’ve heard a lot about the looming Apocalypse. But the word is never used in the regular, religious sense. When I read about it or hear people talking about “the Apocalypse,” they mean the destruction of the world, the collapse of civilization, the fall of our institutions and governments—basically, the end of everything we know. Not the Final End, mind you, but merely a reset to the Stone Age. The COVID-19 pandemic is the Apocalypse! The rise of so-called fascism and authoritarianism means the Apocalypse is coming! The sharp decline of culture and the way of life we’ve known for many generations is a sign of the impending Apocalypse! The zombies are coming! Visions of Mad Max or Dune fill our minds about what our future looks like after the failure of our civilization.

Recently, Elizabeth Banks and her team of researchers surveyed 10,000 young people (ages 16-25) from 10 different countries around the world—both what we would consider “developed” countries and “undeveloped” countries. They asked young people to agree or disagree with a series of statements about the future, especially statements about climate change, family and children, opportunity, and the fate of the human race. The results were shocking, in my opinion. And depressing. 46% of American young people agreed that “The human race is doomed.” 36% of American young adults agreed that they were hesitant to bring children into the world, with the way things are going. And a whopping 68% of American Generation Z members agreed that “The future is frightening.”

Really, all this talk of “Apocalypse” as destruction is understandable. Any time people are living in scary and uncertain times—like these days—they tell stories (through movies, books, and TV series) that express their anxiety and fear. Video games featuring zombie attacks and the remnants of a once-great civilization reflect the angst already present in a society. Anxiety blooms up alongside distressing news and perceived trends in a society. In many ways, this talk about The Fall is nothing new. Prophets secular and religious have always marched about, proclaiming that The End is near. Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb 53 years ago. Doomsayers predicted nuclear war throughout my entire childhood. “Waterworld” was one of the worst movies of 1995. Thomas Malthus prophesied destruction in a gripping essay way back in 1798.

But this current wave of Apocalypse Fever is distressing because it is so far removed from reality. The truth is, we live in a comfortable, wealthy society (to our shame, in many ways). The truth is, we have little to fear—as long as we wear our seatbelts, wash our hands, get vaccinated, and say our prayers. The truth is, we are living in a time when medical and technological progress has brought a period of unmatched well-being.

But the truth is also that many scaremongers have exploited mass media and social media to whip up a frenzy of fear and sensationalism. A small minority of agitators have taken up pitchforks and torches, looking for bogeymen of discrimination and hatred in an otherwise peaceful and integrated society. An influential group of nihilists—who have long abandoned faith—have convinced the average wavering person that the future is bleak and that there is nothing to live for.

But in our Christian faith, “Apocalypse” is a good thing. “Apocalypse” means “unveiling.” That is, at the right time in the future, the Son of God—who is still present with us today, but not physically—will be revealed for who he is. The curtain will be pulled back to unveil King Jesus, and he will assume his throne over the whole creation. And that’s good news! At least for those who love and trust him. We may not always be optimistic about our world and some of the things that the future will bring. And there will definitely be suffering and tribulation in our future—as there has always been suffering and tribulation in our broken, fallen world since the beginning. But there is always hope. Jesus promised his return. He is still Lord of all. Salvation history has a God-ordained goal to it: to bring all things under Jesus’ peaceful rule. And so we proclaim with hope and expectation, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)

Pastor Ray

The Life of Our Church

Online or In-Person Services

We are open in a “new normal”! But if you are uncomfortable coming to worship in person, you may worship virtually through our YouTube channel. We will stream the service live, and the service will be archived after that.

Please visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel to discover our videos:

http://www.tinyurl.com/FBCAtlanticYouTube

Sunday School

Bring your Bible and a friend. Every Sunday at 9:30 a.m.

LC Clinic Benefit Concert

First Church of Christ in Atlantic will be hosting a benefit concert for the LC Clinic, featuring Ambassadors of Grace, on Monday, 10/4, 6:30 p.m. First Church of Christ, 1310 SW 7th Street Atlantic. To learn more, visit www.iowalcclinic.org.

Free Concert

Zion Lutheran Church (811 Oak Street in Atlantic) will be hosting a night of encouragement, featuring the Garms Family. Saturday, October 9th, at 7:00 p.m.

Cass County Choral Society

The CCCS has begun preparation for its Christmas program. If you would like to sing, visit with Pastor Ray. Rehearsals are Sunday afternoons from 3:30-5:00 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Atlantic (800 Poplar).

American Baptist Women’s Ministries

ABWM will meet on Wednesday, October 20, at 1:30 p.m.

American Baptist Women Rally

The ABWM Iowa West Fall Rally will be on Saturday, October 16, here in our church building.

Quarterly Congregational Meeting and Potluck

Our quarterly congregational meeting and potluck lunch will be after worship on Sunday, October 10. Please bring something to share!

World Mission Offering

We will receive the World Mission Offering on Sunday, 10/3. Your gifts help support mission efforts to share the good news around the world. http://www.internationalministries.org/world-mission-offering

Atlantic Food Pantry

Please remember to support our local food pantry, either directly or by dropping off goods here at our sanctuary.

Sermon Series: Is. 40-55

Pastor Ray will be exploring “The Gospel According to Isaiah” throughout this fall. We will hear from the various prophecies of Isaiah that point toward the Messiah, Jesus. Bring a friend and hear God’s Word!

Sharing God’s Word with the Nations

In July, our congregation voted to support Anthony and Liz Smith, formerly of Atlantic, in their mission to translate the Bible for an indigenous African people group that does not have access to the Christian Bible in their first language. Please keep praying for them as they embark on their mission.

Communion

We celebrate the Lord’s Supper every first Sunday of the month. We will be observing it next on October 3, which is World Communion Sunday. And if you are watching worship on YouTube, you are certainly encouraged to participate at home with your own elements.

Stay Connected!

Facebook: Follow our Facebook page for updates and alerts.

(https://www.facebook.com/firstbaptistatlantic)

Text: Subscribe to our text message service for prayer requests and updates: Text (712) 250-1607 to be added.

YouTube: Subscribe to our YouTube channel. http://www.tinyurl.com/FBCAtlanticYouTube. Newsletter: Visit our Web site and subscribe to receive our newsletter (blog) by email (at the bottom-left of the homepage). https://fbcatlantic.wordpress.com.

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