Missions education and missions giving are major emphases during Advent and Christmas. We give to various missions organizations in response to the love, mercy and grace of God that we experience, hoping that through the efforts of these organizations others will come to know the grace of God experienced in and through the person of Jesus the Christ. Southside Baptist Church is receiving the annual offering for Global Missions this month which will be used to sustain Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel around the world. These individuals are working in many different capacities; however, the primary focus is building “beloved community.” These individuals share God’s love as they work to supply very basic needs along with teaching many life skills necessary for displaced refugees to assimilate into another culture. Please prayerfully consider how you will support these efforts.
Another mission effort supported, in part, by Southside Baptist Church is the Good News Children’s Education Mission in Kolkata, India. Tonight at 6:00 p.m., Subir and Eunok Roy, will share with us some updates and tell us a little about the vision they have for further ministry efforts. Make plans to be present to hear their presentation and to fellowship around the table together.
The weeks of Advent are a paradox. We live each day with a heightened sense of expectation and anticipation as we wait. However, our waiting and watching for the Lord’s appearance in everyday events is easily pushed aside as we engage in all sorts of holiday events intended to make the season more special. Our efforts to experience more leaves us actually experiencing less. In these weeks of Advent, look for and anticipate the subtle ways that God moves among us and experience them to their fullest. Consider ways that you can bless others and be an instrument of God’s peace.
The Columns this month contains a list of ways to bless others through your contributions or direct involvement. Our Advent Missions Offering for Global Missions is one very important way that you can help. One hundred percent of this offering is used to keep CBF field personnel on the field meeting physical, emotional and spiritual needs as they share the Gospel around the world. One example of the ministries this offering supports is the work of Shelah and Jade Acker, founders of Refuge and Hope in Uganda. The center is not a shelter itself but through it, social workers provide counseling, education, job training, life skills training and help in resettlement of refugees in Kampala, Uganda. Many of the refugees that make their way to Refuge and Hope from South Sudan. An estimated 300,000 people have been killed and four million South Sudanese displaced as a result of the civil war that erupted in 2013. Many of these refugees find their way to Uganda where they are willingly accepted, but where life is very hard due to lack of education, training and resources. Centers like Refuge and Hope provide the love, care and community needed by these refugees. May we all remember that in this season we celebrate the birth of Jesus who, soon after his birth, along with Mary and Joseph, became refugees themselves as they escaped to Egypt. Jesus taught when one demonstrates the love of God by loving and caring for one of the least of these you have done it unto him. Prayerfully, consider how you will give to support this and other efforts around the world.
Advent begins this Sunday, December 3, and it is also the beginning of the Christian Year. Advent is a time of celebrating and waiting, of remembering and anticipating. It is a time of great tension in experiencing the “already” and anticipating the “not yet” that is promised. It is a time for spiritual renewal and of growing deeper and stronger in our faith. Each Sunday is an opportunity to experience the presence of Christ as we worship together and each weekday an opportunity to experience the presence of Christ in our neighborhood, community, work or play.
On Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m., we gather in Memorial Chapel for a time of prayer and meditation, followed by Holy Communion. During Advent, the meditation and prayer focus each week will use the text for the upcoming Sunday. Hopefully this will further enhance our experience of Advent.
This Wednesday, we resume the weekly mid-week schedule for Fellowship Supper, Prayer and Bible Study. Dr. Roxburgh will continue the study on Peter as he presents a study entitled, “Failure and Forgiveness.” I hope to see you there for a great time of fellowship and study.
What will you do this Thanksgiving Day?
Will you be traveling to see family or friends?
Is there a tradition to which your family always adheres on this holiday?
Wherever you are and whatever you do tomorrow, take some time to give thanks for all your blessings. Find a few minutes and take an inventory of all the wondrous sights, sounds and fragrances surrounding you in this wonderful creation God has brought into existence. Look for the good things evident in events and in relationships. Speak words of thanks and appreciation to your family and friends for being present and enriching your life through their love and kind deeds. And above all, give thanks to God for the love, mercy and grace that we experience through Jesus the Christ and the constant and abiding presence of Christ that brings meaning, purpose and joy to our lives.
I hope you have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving!
This Wednesday evening is one of those very special times our church family gets to gather around the table, give thanks and share a traditional Thanksgiving meal together. Breaking bread with family and friends is always special and, at times, extraordinary. I hope you will share in this time of fellowship and that you will invite your friends to join you.
After the meal we will have a time of prayer and share some thoughts on Thanksgiving. We will also be assembling hygiene kits for those who don’t have homes and family to be with this holiday season. Then on Thursday evening at 5:30 pm, we will gather in Memorial Chapel (2nd floor across from the church office) for a time of reflection and meditation on Psalm 100. This service ends with the celebration of Holy Communion.
In both gatherings, the table is central to all that transpires and, in both, we have the opportunity to express to God, the giver of all that is good, our gratitude for innumerable blessings. The physical needs that are met, the health we enjoy, the family and friends with which we are blessed all have deeper meaning and bring greater joy when we celebrate and give thanks for the tie that binds us together as followers of Jesus the Christ.
Join your church family and feast on the table from God’s bountiful creation, and feast at the table provided by our Savior and Lord who promised that whenever we gather in His name, He is present with us. That is surely reason to give thanks!
After the costumes and candy of Halloween are put away, the following day,1 November is All Saints Day. This is the Christian festival to honor saints and martyrs and celebrate the spiritual bond between those who have died and those still living. Saints have been a part of the Christian tradition since the 4th century AD, but all martyrs were not remembered until 609 AD. Pope Boniface IV introduced the tradition of honoring the martyrs. Celebrations were originally held on 13 May and called Feast of all Holy Martyrs. In 837 AD, Pope Gregory IV moved the observance to 1 November, and changed the name of the holiday to Feast of All Saints. We will observe the special day at Southside on Sunday 5 November with hymns, anthems, and organ pieces honoring the day.
– Sarah Heaslett / Director of Music, Organist
The Apostle Peter is often sidelined in our understanding of the New Testament. Despite the fact that he was one of the inside threesome who were especially close to Jesus: Peter, James and John, he is often overlooked and attention is focused on Paul. Yet Martin Luther once commented that his writings were among ‘the true kernel and marrow’ of the New Testament.
In our Wednesday evening Bible Studies in October and November, we have been exploring the life of Peter. There is something winsome and welcoming about the character of Peter. He is impetuous and impulsive, failing the Lord in so many different directions, and yet the honesty with which the Bible records his life gives us hope that God is willing to commit the work of his kingdom into the hands of folks, just like ourselves, who will seek to follow him in the life of discipleship.
The pathway of our own pilgrimage is lived out in the company of the one whom Julian of Norwich called ‘our courteous Lord’. He knows all about our unreliability and capacity for stupidity, meanness of spirit and failure, and yet he knows, as well, our ability, strengthened by his grace, to scale heights of courage and depths of devotion, that our lives might be filled with love for him and for others.
Dr. Ken Roxburgh
Pastor for Preaching and Teaching