The Quarterly Church Business Meeting is scheduled for this evening and will immediately follow the Fellowship Supper and Prayer Time which begin at 5:30 p.m. Tonight we will hear reports from standing committees, staff members and a report from the Deacons. The report from the Deacons will also include recommendations for election of deacons, trustees, other officers and Board appointments. Your participation is encouraged as we elect leaders for another year. Plans for the summer months will also be presented, including a recommendation on repairing/replacing a portion of the building cooling system as we enter the warmer months. Every member’s presence and input is important and has great value to fulfill our mission in the Southside community and beyond.
I hope to see you this evening.
Here we are in Holy Week with only a few days until we gather for the Maundy Thursday Service and the Good Friday Service. You received by email (if not, sign up here) a description of these two services as well as the Easter Service which will be a wonderful celebration of our Lord’s resurrection. I want to mention and give some details on one other special opportunity for you to gather, study and celebrate the risen Christ. Following the weekly Gathering, Sunday at 9:00 a.m. in Drennen Hall, all classes are encouraged to remain for the Sunday School hour. During this time, one of our newer members, Dr. Stuart Collier, will lead the Bible Study. Stuart has a wide variety of life and career experiences from which to draw and use in his teaching, writing and ministry. Stuart has served as a Hospice Chaplain, Hospital Chaplin, College Professor and Pastor as well as serving in the U. S. Army Special Forces. Join your Church family for this time of study and fellowship as we hear from Stuart.
This is a most important week for Christians. Though we live in the reality of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ everyday, moving through Holy Week with our attention focused on the events that transpired in Jerusalem the last days of Jesus’ earthly life help us understand the great weight upon Jesus. Through his death, Jesus bore our sins away, not because he had to but because of his unconditional and sacrificial love for us. So great and wonderful is his love. Thanks be to God!
I enjoy our journey together,
Last Saturday, some of our Southside Baptist Church members participated in “Clean and Clear 5 Points,” a service project organized and promoted by REV Birmingham and the Five Points Alliance. The group of 25-30 volunteers consisted of members from local churches, merchants, residents of the neighborhood, friends from surrounding communities and UAB students. This project is a very small part of the concerted effort to improve the 5 Points and surrounding neighborhoods by making it more inviting and safer for all who live, work, attend school and worship in the community, as well as for those who frequent the various businesses. Those who participated had the opportunity to talk with other volunteers and hear their perspectives on a variety of issues. Though we were tired, and some muscle soreness followed, it was a great way to spend part of a Saturday. There will be more opportunities like this in the future. If you would like to know more about 5 Points and the efforts mentioned above you can read this Birmingham News article.
This is Spring Break week for many schools, and though the weather feels more like winter than spring time, students, families and faculty have taken to the roads and the air traveling across the country and in some cases abroad. For the last five years, Southside Baptist Church has been host to a group of students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as part of the school’s alternative Spring Break experience. While in Birmingham, these students will tour some of the civil rights sites and volunteer in several of the non-profits throughout the city. Each year as another group of students make their way to Birmingham full of energy and with great hope for tomorrow, I am reminded of the wonderful opportunities we have of encouraging them in their efforts and demonstrating to them the love of God as we practice radical hospitality. The Wednesday evening program this week will focus on missions and ministry, a portion of which will be a presentation by the guest students.
I hope you will make plans to be here for this time of Fellowship, Prayer and Education.
Fellowship with us on Sunday mornings at 9:00am in Drennen Hall before joining one of our Sunday School classes to discuss Wayne Proctor’s lessons on Holy Living (Smith & Helwys Formations series).
Some Christians fall in to the mistake of thinking that Lent is a season for remembering the death of Jesus on the cross. That is certainly a part of Lent. It takes center stage during Holy Week, the final week of Lent. But Jesus’ death isn’t even close to the whole story of this season.
Lent is more properly understood as a season in which to remember the teachings of Jesus. In particular, it is a season in which Christians are called upon to reflect on their spiritual health. How are we doing in our struggle to resit sin, attain holiness, and reflect more and more on the life to which Jesus has called us?
For the first four Sundays of Lent, our lessons will draw from several New Testament passages that will hopefully help us grapple with what it means to strive for holiness, especially in the context of a culture that so often pulls us away from such a pursuit.
As is traditional in many lectionaries, we will begin with the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness and ponder how we respond to the temptations we face every day. Then we will hear James’s warnings about the dangers of the tongue and reflect on how our words may literally speak volumes about the state of our souls.
In the third lesson, we will explore 1 John and approach the question of how honest we are about our sins. Do we confess them and seek the cleansing Jesus gives or do we try to pretend we have attained moral perfection? Finally, we’ll return to the letter of James and ponder the benefits of humility before God.
March 5 – Facing Temptation
March 12 – Taming the Tongue
March 19 – Living in the Light
1 John 1:5 – 2:6
March 26 – Practicing Humility
The forty days plus the Sundays designated as Lent are days of preparation for all believers. It is a time for looking within, fine tuning our focus, to see what is in hidden within the dark recesses of our hearts and minds. The forty days comprise a period that correlates with the length of time Jesus spent in the wilderness immediately following his baptism. It was in this wilderness that Jesus was tempted to abandoned the purpose for which he came to dwell on earth and opt for a way more pleasing to his humanity. Jesus resisted the temptations and began his ministry of seeking those he came to save. In the wilderness Jesus experienced the real struggle of remaining fixed on and committed to the calling and purpose of his life on earth when he was weak, vulnerable and tempted; therefore, he understood the struggle of those to whom he ministered with compassion, love and grace.
So, living each day on our journey to Easter, and hopefully beyond, we examine our lives, and we pray for forgiveness as repentance and confession is made. And because God is faithful and just, the weight of our sin is lifted, and we are freed from the burden that weighed heavy upon us. While that is a promise that lifts our spirits, it is only part of the story. With a cleansed heart, an uplifted and renewed spirit, we are positioned to see all things and all people with eyes and hearts that understand the struggle of living a life that blesses others rather than being concerned only for oneself. Jesus lived his earthly life reaching out to the marginalized, the oppressed, the weak, the vulnerable, the unloved, the lonely, the exploited, the friendless, the hated, the despised, which on occasion had nothing to do with one’s means. Jesus saw the heart and the pain of those struggling, looking for that place to experience the love of God and to find rest for their souls. That is the way that Jesus loved those he encountered and how he loves even you and me. Jesus’ command to love others as we have been loved by him is an ongoing quest for me. So I pray as I meditate on this “New Command” that the Lord will soften and mold my heart and your hearts and guide us to those whom the Lord might bless through us. What a supreme privilege it is to have opportunities to share the love of God.
Praise be to God.
Lent begins today, Ash Wednesday, and continues until Easter on April 16. The forty days plus the Sundays of this period are a time during which introspection, confession and repentance are the focus of daily scripture and devotional readings, prayers and worship. It is a time to draw close to God, to sit in the presence of Christ’s Spirit and have the innermost parts of our lives illumined and to confess what is revealed. There is great truth in the idiom, “Confession is good for the soul,” especially and most importantly when it is made to God. But, it doesn’t stop with confession. Confession without repentance is shallow and reeks of insincerity. To repent, or turn away from, means to leave behind the aspects of life that hinder and prevent us from following closely the way of Christ. The theme “Mandatum Novum” meaning “New Command,” is to remind us that the way of Christ runs counter to the way of the world. The way of Christ, this new command given to his disciples, is to love others as we have been loved by Jesus the Christ. During these days of Lent, make this verse a part of your daily prayer. Pray simply, “Lord, help me to love others the way you have loved me.” I believe that when you pray this simple prayer daily and mediate upon it, the Lord will direct you to people that need to know and experience God’s love. You will be guided to thoughts and ways that bring you closer to the one that sacrificed all for the sake of all.
Praise be to God.