The theme of worship this Sunday is Christian Discipleship, a term that conveys a process of disciplined learning in the ways of Jesus and being transformed through inculcation, as one’s relationship with Jesus grows deeper. Some of us remember discipleship as dry and mundane, perhaps that is because of how discipleship was approached in the church family in which we were reared; however, Christian discipleship is far from that, and no one conveys that truth better than Mark in his account of the Gospel. The gospel reading this week is Mark 1:14-20, which is the account of Jesus calling his first disciples by simply saying to them, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” No sooner had Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John left their fishing nets than Jesus began to show them how transforming and exciting following him would really be. They saw miraculous and mighty things take place as they followed Jesus. They witnessed the compassion, humility, love, mercy and power as they followed Jesus. This is how following Jesus should be: learning, experiencing being transformed in ways that are beyond what one is able to do on his or her own. It is so much more than just learning about Jesus and trying to apply that knowledge. Christian Discipleship is rooted in relationship with Jesus the Christ. I was reminded of this when I listened to Subir and Eunok Roy last Sunday share about the work that God is doing through them and The Good News Children’s Education Mission in Kolkata, India. It is obvious that they heard Jesus call them when he said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” The Roys are disciples that see the children of Kolkata as some of the “least of these,” and they reach out to feed, clothe, bathe, provide medical care, educate, provide shelter and, above all, love them. They are instruments of God’s love.
In “A Spiritual Formation Workbook,” by James Brian Smith and Linda L. Graybeal, the writers, in the opening section, introduce the idea of a balanced vision of the Christian faith and practice by looking at the Life of Jesus Christ. The reader is invited to consider the ways that Jesus Christ functions in the life of most Christians. Jesus functions for most as: Savior, Teacher, Lord, and Friend and we can readily see in Scripture where Jesus functioned in these roles. It is a reality though, that most of us gravitate toward one of the functions when we think of how we identify with Jesus. Therefore, the question asked by Smith and Graybeal; “Which role have you experienced the most and do you understand the best?” is worthy of some consideration. Reflecting on these functions, I found myself recalling times, even seasons, when each one was central to how I viewed my relationship with Jesus the Christ. This process reminded me of the ever changing nature and dynamics of all relationships and how our propensity to gravitate to a specific aspect or function of a relationship may stifle growth and limit depth in that relationship and our appreciation and knowledge of the other party. In our relationship with Jesus, it is important and beneficial to acknowledge, affirm and appreciate all aspects of the relationship in order to find meaning that brings wholeness to life as we continue our journey. I liked the way the writers responded to the question, as indicated below, naming specifically how these functions could be understood.
Jesus Christ as my Savior: he forgives my sins and sets me free.
Jesus Christ as my Teacher: he teaches me wisdom and guides me into truth.
Jesus Christ as my Lord: he lives at the center of my life.
Jesus Christ as my Friend: he understands and comforts me.
Please take a few minutes and reflect on Jesus Christ as Savior, Teacher, Lord, and Friend. Offer a prayer that the Spirit of Christ will lead you to a deeper understanding of each, and that the depth and meaning of your life will increase daily.
Fall is here and with it the familiar signs the change of seasons bring. Each year I eagerly anticipate Autumn with the beautiful array of colors that appear to be splashed across the landscape accompanied by the crisp morning air that is just cool enough to make one feel really alive. I relish a leisurely walk along neighborhood streets or on a trail through the natural area in one of the beautiful parks nearby. Each time, I find that I am again awed by the wonder of God’s marvelous creation. Spending time in God’s creation presents an ideal opportunity for reflection on life in general, and more specifically, how one fits into this vast expanse of creation. I am reminded of the psalmist’s words:
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
Human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
And crowned them with glory and honor.
(Psalm 8: 3-5)
It is a humbling thought indeed to acknowledge that God who spoke into being all of creation which overwhelms us with its expanse, intricacies and beauty, also created and crowned each person. This reality is cause to offer words of praise and thanksgiving to the Creator, and it compels us to see our fellow human beings, whoever they are and wherever they are, as persons created and loved by God in equal measure as you and me. In these days of autumn as your spirit is buoyed by the awesome display of God’s creative handiwork, let your gaze also fall upon your brothers and sisters; who, being created by the Living God, are all individuals “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Thanks be to God, maker of heaven and earth, and all that dwell therein.
We experienced a wonderful time of worship last Sunday as we celebrated World Communion Sunday. Every aspect of worship was uplifting and reinforced the truth that as believers, whether here or halfway around the world, we are bound together with an unbreakable tie. It is a familial relationship that transcends any and all others that we experience, producing a sense of belonging for all. World Communion Sunday reminds us of the unity we experience in Christ amid all the diversity that, when left to humanity, usually divides. I see and am amazed at the diversity among worshipers at Southside Baptist Church each time we celebrate Holy Communion, and I am awed that God, through love, mercy and grace, has brought us all together. It gives us hope since the Good News that unites us, also has the power to break down barriers in the world that separate and divide us. I hope and pray that we will remember the words in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
May we live as one.
I encourage you to participate in the prayer retreat this Friday evening and/or Saturday morning. Dr Norfleete Day will be leading this retreat which is themed around prayer as conversation with God. Our spiritual vitality, and especially our prayer life, often suffers when the busyness of our daily routine crowds out the very things that bring real meaning, peace, stability and joy to our lives. Occasionally, we need to stop, rest and push aside all of those voices shouting for our attention so that we can hear and respond to the “one voice” that really matters. Please make an extra effort to attend this retreat. I am confident it will be meaningful to you and a blessing to our church family. Details for the retreat are in the piece below written by Marilyn Shepard, Christian Growth Committee Chairperson. Please RSVP by calling the Church Office (933-8381), or emailing Shannon Martin, Church Assistant.
I also encourage you to attend Bible Study and Worship this Sunday as we celebrate World Communion Sunday. Christian churches around the world will celebrate Holy Communion this Sunday bearing witness of the love and grace of God made evident through the sacrifice of his son Jesus the Christ. Observing this globally on the same day is a testimony to the unity we have with all other Christians; A unity made possible by the love and power of the one victorious over death that binds us together as one. Be a part of this wonderful celebration this Sunday.
Good things are happening in and through Southside Baptist Church! I believe there is a renewed sense of hope and determination that we as a church family, under God’s guidance, will grow stronger and have a greater ministry in this community and beyond. Each week there are opportunities to worship, learn, serve and fellowship with our church family, with friends that you invite and with those individuals that on their own find their way to Southside Baptist Church. Extending a warm hand of Christian friendship, speaking words of grace and peace, and being moved to loving acts of service is exactly what we are called to do. Living our faith daily is to see every individual we meet as a beloved creation of God; not one to be diminished or deemed as less than but one that God loves just as much as God loves you and me. There are several special events planned in the coming weeks which provide outstanding opportunities to be instruments of God’s grace and love. I hope you will pray that we will be more sensitive to the needs of those we encounter and that we will allow the Spirit of Christ to direct us in all of our efforts.
The Southside Baptist Church building is the hub for many organizations, meetings and ministry efforts every week, but that statement is especially true this week. Those of us present each weekday find ourselves somewhat immersed in all that transpires on any given day and sometimes we fail to recognize that those present only on Wednesday evening or Sunday may be unaware of the many ways you and your church are touching lives in this community and beyond. In addition to the various meetings and ministry efforts that appear in the weekly calendar of events, this week a number of other church and community events are scheduled. These include: Providing dinner and overnight hosts for the families in Family Promise, the UAB Choir holding their fall semester retreat in Drennen Hall and the Sanctuary Friday evening, and the Cajun Zydeco Association having their monthly dance in the gymnasium. Simultaneous to these events, our own Ms. Yong Kim, will be preparing and cooking enough food for 250 meals which she and volunteers will serve to the homeless in Linn Park Saturday morning. All of these publicized events are in addition to the many people that find their way to the doors of the building each week to seek help in dealing with a crisis in their life. Many volunteers with a sense of calling, a desire to enrich the lives of those in this community and possessing sensitivity to meet the basic physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are necessary for this and all other efforts to take place. Maybe you are one that has this within you, but you have not found that place to connect. Look around, there is a place for everyone. Thank You to all the dedicated volunteers that labor hour after hour and shoulder much of the responsibility. Hopefully, these words will be encouragement to you, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the appropriate time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” (Gal. 6:9-10a)