It seems as though we were just getting our fall calendar of events scheduled, and now suddenly we are already in the first week of Advent. Please take note of the various opportunities available to make this Advent season a very special time for you and your family. If you have not already signed up for the daily Advent devotionals that are scheduled to go out to subscribers, please take a moment to do so. SSBC members wrote these devotional emails which adds to the enjoyment and inspiration we receive from them. The cover art which provides a visual expression of the Advent theme, “Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Is. 2:5) was designed by our own Chris McClendon-Bennett. Additional art by SSBC children contributes even more color and variety to the printed devotional booklets available in the Davis Lobby and the Narthex. Thank you to all who helped produce the guide this year; we all are being blessed by these efforts.
We are back on schedule with our Wednesday and Thursday activities after the week off for Thanksgiving, so please take notice of those events in the weekly calendar.
This Sunday is the last Sunday that our beloved Pastor for Preaching and Teaching, Dr. Roxburgh, will be with us. After his trip to Scotland to visit family, he will return to teach at Samford and to devote time to research and writing. We have all been blessed through his ministry with us at Southside now into its fifth year. We have learned much through his teaching, and we have been inspired, comforted and challenged through his thoughtful homilies delivered lovingly from a pastor’s heart. We will honor Dr. Roxburgh this Sunday following the worship service with a reception in Dillard Lobby. I hope you are present to express to him your love and appreciation for leading and walking alongside us through these years. We will certainly miss him and pledge a prayer of Godspeed for his work and life in the days ahead.
This is Thanksgiving week and our usual schedules and routines will be greatly altered to celebrate with family and friends. Hopefully, as we gather around the table to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast, or engage in conversation while resting and relaxing with loved ones, we will take time to offer thanks to God for our many blessings. Although we as a church family will not have our usual Wednesday evening actives, there is an opportunity for everyone to gather with our friends in the Southside neighborhood for the annual Five Points Community Thanksgiving Service today at 12:00 p.m. This year, the service is being hosted by South Highlands Presbyterian Church, 2035 Highland Avenue. Following the worship service, for those able to stay, we will share a meal with our community neighbors. (There is no charge for the lunch.) I look forward to seeing those able to attend the service.
I hope and pray that you have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving, and I look forward to seeing you on the first Sunday of Advent 2019.
A lot is happening in our neighborhood this week, some at Southside Baptist Church and some in our larger community. In addition to our weekly activities, the Southside Faith Communities is holding the 3rd of a three part series, Serving the Homeless: Homeless Prevention Series, this Wednesday. Those able to attend are encouraged to join other volunteers at 8:30 a.m. at Highland’s United Methodist Church to assist in their daily feeding program. The volunteers will discuss the experience among those participating from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Lunch and a panel discussion will be conducted from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.. Below is a list of those on the panel that will be presenting and answering questions.
- Moderator – Adam Burns, Senior Pastor at Church of the Reconciler
- Parrish Knorr, Senior Director of Housing at the YWCA
- James Fowler, Director of the Dept of Transportation, City of Birmingham
- Lisa Singer, Staff Attorney at Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham
- Val Green, Assistant Director at the Firehouse Shelter
- Jessica Evans, Street Outreach Advocate at CAP
I encourage you to attend and participate in as much of this event as possible.
On Wednesday evening at Southside, we will have a Thanksgiving celebration with good food, fellowship and a time of giving thanks through worship. I look forward to seeing you then.
I pondered that question again this past Sunday as I witnessed God’s activity within the walls of the building where we all gather each week. In addition to our congregation’s fellowship, study and worship, the Korean Baptist Church, Lighthouse International Church and The Church at Birmingham all met for worship in different parts of the building as we simultaneously worshiped in the Sanctuary. Iron City Church worshiped in the Sanctuary in the late afternoon, while at the same time, the Korean Baptist Church prepared for an Installation Service for their new pastor to be held in the early evening. I participated in that service and, on your behalf, delivered words of congratulations and encouragement to Rev. and Mrs. Kim and the Korean Baptist Church. As the installation service was ending, a group of about a dozen pediatric chaplains arrived for a Pediatric Chaplains Workshop in the Heritage Room. I reflected on the events of the day as it drew to a close. The various congregations in their worship spaces, Drennen Hall filled with 150+ people from the various Korean communities of faith in Alabama, and chaplains honing their gifts and training, all reminded me that God’s activity surrounds us. Christ’s Spirit is present in this community and in this space. It is tremendously difficult, perhaps impossible, to determine the value of a sacred place where God’s love, mercy and grace, touch lives, relieve suffering, provide healing and wholeness, and offer hope for today and eternity.
We follow our regular schedule of activities this week with fellowship supper and Bible Study tonight and the Communion Service on Thursday. I hope you will make plans to participate in these opportunities this week.
A special opportunity is extended to everyone this Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m. as Temple Beth-El hosts the second installment in the Southside Faith Communities 2019 Homelessness Series. The program Thursday opens the synagogue’s sukkah to the entire community during the festival of Sukkot. The temporary booth set up outdoors will be used to draw attention to Jewish teachings concerning hospitality and how we respond to those who are homeless. Plan to be a part of this opportunity to join with the larger community of faith in our neighborhood as we learn and grow together.
Our weekly opportunities of fellowship, prayer and study tonight will occur at the regularly scheduled time, and Dr. Roxburgh will continue the study entitled “Holy Habits: Spirituality for the 21st Century.” We will not have the weekly Communion Service on Thursday due to the Southside Faith Communities special event at Temple Beth-el.
Finally, we have a break in the drought conditions and extremely high temperatures! I was so thankful to see the rain last Saturday that I felt compelled to walk outside, look heavenward and experience the refreshing sensation of the rain upon my face. The rain that evening might have gone unnoticed by me without the numerous rainless days, but this time I was well aware and all was reinforced by the cooler temperatures that followed. Reflecting on the experience, I know the rain that night calmed my spirit. Maybe it was just a way of being reminded that God does provide as made evident in the rain that came my way and with so much more, too. There are good things that God provides everyday; some I see and some I don’t even notice, at least not until they are gone. We are now in a season that calls to mind harvest time, a period to reflect and consider where all that sustains us comes from and to give thanks for all God has provided. I hope that we will focus on the good life we are granted and give thanks to the one who sustains us in the living of our lives daily. It is good and right for us to give thanks with a grateful heart.
Tonight, we have an opportunity to gather, share a meal, enter into a time of prayer and engage our minds and spirits in a time of study. Dr. Roxburgh will continue the series entitled, “Holy Habits: Spirituality for the 21st Century.”
A wonderful day of worship and fellowship was experienced at Southside this past Sunday. All aspects of the worship service (music, prayers and homily) were inspiring as our spirits were lifted and our hearts challenged to be more attuned to our personal relationships. The covered dish luncheon was also a joy as we broke bread together. This week, we have more opportunities for fellowship, prayer and study at our mid-week gathering this evening and then on Thursday evening at the Communion Service. There, we listen as scripture is read, meditate, pray and celebrate Holy Communion. It is a time of quiet reflection and contemplation to clear our minds and calm our spirits as we focus on listening for God’s voice. I hope you will consider participating in both of these opportunities.
This Sunday is designated as World Communion Sunday. On this day, Christians around the world will celebrate Holy Communion and, in doing so, proclaim the unity that all Believers experience with one another through Christ. This is a visible testimony of the Apostle Paul’s words, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28). It is also a wonderful way to remind us that God’s love is one of inclusion through Jesus the Christ.