This Week

Here are a few things taking place at Southside Baptist this week. Dr. Roxburgh completes a four session study on the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi this evening at the midweek service. This has been a great study of a text that reminds us and encourages us to consider that no matter what is going on in the world, or even in our individual lives, there is cause to give thanks and rejoice for the wondrous works of God. This last session will focus on chapter four of Philippians in which Paul exhorts and gives thanks to those in Philippi who have prayed for him and supported him in his current circumstances. This study will follow the weekly Fellowship Supper and Prayer Time which begins at 5:30 p.m.

If you need a few quiet moments to pull away from the hectic pace of a work week, then join us Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m. for our Contemplative Service. It is a special time for many to pray, listen, reflect and celebrate together in the presence and fellowship of one another and the spirit of Christ.

Friday evening, we have the privilege of hosting a special concert in the Sanctuary. Southside Centre for Arts and Humanities is coordinating this event which will include the UAB and Southside Baptist Choirs, Orchestra of the Highlands, and will feature two Martinson Scholar soloists.

Plan to attend these events if your schedule permits, and enjoy great times of worship, growth and fellowship. 

This Week

Improving our perspectives

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Psalm 121. It begins with these words,
“I lift up my eyes to the hills
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.”

Countless times these words have led me to a place of renewed energy, deeper insight and increased faith while providing me great solace. The world around us is not always the way we expect or hope it to be, and events in our own journey of life do not always transpire as we have envisioned.

When events in life do not turn out as you thought they would, or the results of your efforts leave you unfulfilled and perhaps even disillusioned, where do you turn? What do you hold onto when you realize the temporal nature of those things you think will never fail or end. And, from what do you draw energy and strength when sickness, aging, or loss of a loved one is more difficult than you thought? I encourage you to spend some time reading and reflecting on this or some other passage of Scripture. It is amazing, at least to me, how much my perspective is improved when I read, reflect, pray and listen. After all, God is always with us and always ready to spend time with us.

This evening, Dr. Roxburgh continues a study of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. This is the third of four sessions with each session focusing on one of the four chapters of Philippians. This study will immediately follow the weekly Fellowship Meal and Prayer Time.

I look forward to seeing you this evening.
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Improving our perspectives

Upcoming Events

2/7 6:00pm – Birmingham Area Sacred Harp Singers
2/12 6:00pm – Jazz Vespers with guest artists Ladies Night Out
2/16 12:00pm – Men’s Lunch and Bible Study
2/20 6:00pm – Deacons Meeting
2/21 Birmingham Choral Festival
2/25 7:00pm – UAB/Montevallo/Southside Choirs Concert
3/1 Ash Wednesday
3/5 First Sunday of Lent

Upcoming Events

God’s Love in Action

On a recent flight from Boston to NYC, I had the privilege of sitting next to, who I later found out, a Vice-President with Warner Brother music. After the pleasantries that most share when seated next to someone on a plane, I did the unthinkable, I actually started a conversation with this fellow passenger. Normally, I refrain from such activities. Quite frankly I have been burned by such conversations in the past. I’m sure you can relate to being trapped on an airplane with someone you have startup a conversation with and you realize all too late that your views on the world were not quite aligned. Nothing is worse than listening to someone go on and on and having no way to bow out gracefully. I however digress, as this was not the case with this conversation.

Over the hour-long flight we talked on politics, our work, our family, even the weather – a particularly sensitive subject since the national expert, Al Roker, was sitting across the aisle from us. After sharing the basics of our experiences and looking for the commonalities that would not only carry the conversation, but also a way to solidify the new friendship, we started to discuss the role of a salesperson. You see, in both of our jobs there is an element of sales. Selling our products and services to further the missions of our organizations. In comparing our notes, we both agreed on two things that make individuals effective at selling themselves and the services they want to provide – passion and depth.

Passion I think we can all relate to. Passion implies purpose and fulfillment in our work and through the various activities of life. Whether in a job or in personal efforts, I believe passion must be found by the individual. Perhaps through education, coaching, or lived experience, passion can be honed and developed, but ultimately it’s up to a person to find the passion that both sustains and drives the work they do. Depth is the intentionality behind knowing someone – truly knowing someone – not as a someone that has the power to bring new business, but as someone created and loved by God. It is through the shared experiences – a marriage, death, birth of child, a personal struggle or triumph – the list could go on – we truly connect with each other.

Over the past several months, the Deacons have been implementing our congregational care plan – Agape in Action – God’s love in action. It seems to me the success of our efforts has the same two components as being an effective salesperson – passion and depth. Passion is found and is realized through the love that God has for each of us. A love so profound, it is beyond measure. It compels us to the second – to go deeper. To move beyond the superficial, to a deeper love for God’s creation and all of humanity. Finding our spiritual passion is a personal journey certainly supported by the church. The act of depth or being Intentional is as well. As a faith community, I believe we all are called – not just deacons – to be the passion of Christ, seeking to form “depth-connections” with our members and visitors that come are way. As we seek to “build this inclusive community of grace”, seek to really know those around you and to intentionally seek out those you have not seen. As you do, remind them that God’s passionate and depth-filled love can be found in the heart of Birmingham at Southside Baptist Church.

May the peace of God be your guide,
Rusty Bennett
Chair of Deacons

God’s Love in Action

Telling Your Story

Lee Canipe, curriculum writer for Smyth & Helwys, introduced the current unit of study entitled, “Old Testament Covenants,” this way: “Every good story requires some element of suspense. Will the mystery be solved? Will the hero defeat the villain? Will the relationship survive? A story without any suspense doesn’t really deserve to be told because there’s nothing to tell.”

The characters in this series of lessons hold places in our minds that are often elevated to status bigger than life. Yes, these individuals stand out prominently in the history of our faith, but they were human beings and they had failures and shortcomings just as you and I do.

One only has to read scripture telling of the life of Noah, Abram, Moses and David to see clearly that they also struggled to live as God intended. They all struggled with the pull of their humanity, often succumbing to it, while yearning to be the spiritual person and leader God created them to be. Stories of real people such as these provide vivid pictures of God’s amazing grace. The life story of each one was written day by day, full of suspense, full of mystery. They didn’t always get it right when taking action, but God brought some good out of some terrible situations they created. But then, we really don’t have to look that far do we?

We experience God’s grace daily as we also struggle in our own journey. Likely, we can all tell of bad situations of our own making in the midst of which God met us and helped us find something good to hold onto. I find it both comforting and reassuring to know that God does not give up on his children, those he has called, and the ministry to which he has called them.  Not even when his children give up on themselves. If suspense makes a story worth telling, then the story of our personal and corporate life and journey of watching, waiting, listening, believing and acting on what we discern is one worthy of telling. And what is even better, it is not over!

Everyday we live is a new day filled with surprises, full of suspense, making us eager to see what is around the next corner discovering a little more of the mysteries of God and of our lives.

Praise be to God!
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Telling Your Story

Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly.

I read, listen and attempt to process as much information as possible regarding the recent decisions and actions taken by President Trump, particularly those pertaining to immigrants and refugees. We all desire to be safe and secure and hope that all people will respect and obey the laws of the land, thereby creating or maintaining a more civilized, peaceful society; however, there is an ever-widening divide among our citizens of how to move closer to that objective. This divide driven by fear and uncertainty and perhaps even, which is far more troubling, an insidious self-centeredness rooted in some belief that God looks with greater favor upon us than others around the world is seemingly growing with fervor.

Listening to much of the public rhetoric, it seems as though many hold such a position. I hope and pray that I am wrong, for such a position puts one at odds with the preeminent truth that all people are created equal; a belief stated in our Constitution and a truth set forth in scripture. I believe we live in the greatest country in the world and experience freedom like few others, if any. With such freedom comes responsibility that extends beyond what the eye can see and what the mind and heart struggle to comprehend. In the 10th Chapter of Luke, we find the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus tells this parable in response to a lawyer who stated to Jesus that the law indicated that in order to inherit eternal life, one must love the Lord with all their being and love their neighbor as they love themselves. The lawyer then asked of Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the parable and then asked the lawyer, “which of these three, (those who saw the man on the roadside) was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The lawyer replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said, “go and do likewise.” We must also respond to this question, “Who is my neighbor?” Is “my neighbor” only that person that:

Looks like me?
Has similar means as me?
Thinks like I think?
Holds the same political views that I hold?
Believes like I believe?
Worships like I worship?

Our neighbor is any and all who need to be shown mercy, ourselves included.

I believe that to most people, the division and unrest in our nation and around the world grieves our hearts and calls for our attention. I pray for leaders in all levels of government. I pray for those who are most directly affected by recent decisions, about which many have no voice, no advocate. I pray that we as a nation, with the abundance we enjoy, never lose sight of how we are to use our resources to bless others. And may we never forget what we read in scripture that the Lord requires of us, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.

May it be so!

Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly.

Fellowship and Looking Forward

The 130th Anniversary Celebration last Sunday was wonderful. Worship expressed through music and the spoken word was inspiring and uplifting. The joyous atmosphere of the fellowship meal reminded me once again of how blessed we are to know and experience the love and grace of God that binds us together. Former members, guests and former staff members all experienced the warm hospitality that Southside members practice everyday. We were privileged to hear Dr. Andrew Westmoreland, President of Samford University, deliver the homily and for many to engage in conversation with him during lunch. It was indeed a great day, and I pray that we will maintain that sense of excitement, joy, and fellowship so apparent last Sunday. Thank you to all who helped make this such an outstanding occasion using your gifts and talents to create to an atmosphere that left people saying, “It was good to have been in the house of the Lord today.”

Tonight is the scheduled date for our Quarterly Church Business Meeting. I hope you will make plans to be here for the Fellowship Supper at 5:30 p.m. followed by Prayer Time. The business meeting will beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Fellowship and Looking Forward