A look at mission efforts of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is the focus of our program tonight immediately following the weekly Fellowship Supper and a time of prayer. Your tithes and offerings to Southside Baptist Church and to the CBF Offering for Global Missions help support the field personnel and provide necessary resources to carry out these mission efforts. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly will be held in Birmingham this year from June 19-21. During the General Assembly, mission partnerships and new mission and minstry initiatives will be presented. We hope a number of our SSBC members will be able to attend the CBF General Assembly worship service on Wednesday, June 19; transportation from the SSBC to the Civic Center will be provide for those interested (you must be registered first to attend). More details on CBF and on the upcoming General Assembly are planned for our mid-week gathering. 

You are also invited and reminded that this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. we will have our last Contemplative/Communion service until July 11, 2019, at which time we will resume the weekly schedule. Join us for a time of prayer, reflection and communion this Thursday.

On Sunday, we have the honor and privilege of participating in ordaining a new deacon to our deacon body. Tom Somers will be ordained after being elected in April to serve a three-year term. An ordination service is a very special service for the one being ordained and the church which ordains them. In this service, the one being called out to serve is affirmed by members of the church through words and pledges of support and affirmation. We look forward to this important event in the life of SSBC.


Peter’s Vision and Paul’s Letters

The Reflections devotion for today cited the apostle Peter’s transforming experience while at the home of Simon the tanner. Peter had a most unusual vision while there, as recorded in Acts Chapter 10, through which God communicated to Peter the truth of God’s love for all people. In his vision:
He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.  It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. 
(Acts 10: 11-16)

I thought about Peter’s vision and how the devotional writer for today addressed how shortsighted and wrong our prejudices and biases can be. Holding on to such rigid and dogmatic beliefs and positions leads us to focus more on the letter of the law rather than the Spirit of the law, pushing away others who need to experience the love and grace of God.  Our faith journey is dynamic and our knowledge of God and of spiritual things a continual process.  We do not reach a pinnacle of knowing all; rather, we discover more and more of who God is through the experience of God’s love, mercy and grace. I hope and pray that we all continue to learn together and challenge one another in our corporate journey of “Building an Inclusive Community of Grace in our community and beyond.

Tonight, Dr. Roxburgh continues the study entitled, “Paul’s Letters.” Make plans to be a part of the study series, and join us at 5:30 pm for Fellowship Supper and prayer.

Peter’s Vision and Paul’s Letters

It is finished.

I’m terrified. I can’t breathe.  It’s not supposed to end like this.

Oh no, they’re going to kill him.  No, they’re not.  He’s the Lord. He will stop this any minute.

I can’t breathe.  I shouldn’t be here. What if they see me?

No, no, no, I can’t be afraid now. I need to be here to support my Lord.

Am I hidden? They can’t see me, can they? Maybe I’ll just move over here.

Help me, God.  No, I can’t pray for help because I’m here and I’m hiding.  I should go closer and support my Lord.

He needs to start the revolution.  Surely, He’s going to start it any time now.  Just come down off the cross.  Come down. Come down. Come down.  

I’m terrified.  I need to hide.  Why isn’t he coming down?  All those miracles, I know I saw them.

What is wrong with him? What is wrong with me? Why did I believe him?  I think he’s dying. 

Come down, come down.  I need to breathe.

The crowd is yelling for Him to come down from the cross.  I’m not yelling.  I’m trying to hide, but Lord, yes, please come down.  Prove yourself.  I don’t really believe you right now.  You need to come down.  This is not what I expected.

He’s forgiving them.  What? No.  Don’t do that. That’s not how we start a revolution.  But He did preach forgiveness.  But, I didn’t think he meant this.  No. No. No.

Just breathe.  Stay hidden. I think the crowd is looking at me.  Can they tell how I feel? Do they think I believe him?  Let me back up a little bit. Try to blend in.

I believed Him.  He raised Lazarus.  He did.  Everyone said He did.  We all saw it.  Any minute now, he’s going to come down.  He’s going to stop this.  He’s not going to die.  It’s not going to end this way.

I need to calm down.  People will notice me.  

He just said, “It is finished.” 

No, it can’t be.

No, no, no.  This is not the end.  Jesus, don’t do this. You can’tdo this.  

He’s going to come down from the cross.  He’s going to come down. He’s going to come down.

No…….no………….no,  It is finished.  He is dead.

— Marilyn Shepard

It is finished.

The Emotions of Holy Week

This is an exciting time albeit rife with mixed emotions! Palm Sunday and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, only five days before his arrest, was one of great celebration and fanfare for his followers and for those who were energized as pilgrims poured into the city for Passover. We read from scripture and celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, but we know that darkness would soon follow the Hosannas.

The events of that week might be mentioned only in passing if not for Jesus’ resurrection the morning following the Sabbath.  The empty tomb and Jesus resurrected is the promise of hope for all people. It embodies all that God’s love, mercy and grace encompass. However, the joyful celebration of Palm Sunday and the hope and joy of the Resurrection are in stark contrast to the days in between.

Personally, I would like to avoid thinking too much about the pain and suffering Jesus experienced and jump from Palm Sunday to the Resurrection, but, it is in reading, reflecting and meditating on the events of Holy Week that the depth of Jesus’ sacrificial love is understood more fully. Jesus willingly entered Jerusalem knowing how the events of that week would ultimately end. Yet, he willingly faced them, even the cross. 

Our journey through Lent, Walking with God,  becomes more intense as we journey through the events of Holy Week, but we know the rest of the story; a story of God’s unconditional and sacrificial love.

— Tim Kelley

The Emotions of Holy Week

A poem for Lent

A martyr hung just down the road
A place not far from calvary
No crowd was there to see them die
No words of theirs recorded
But like as not they hung there
Upon a cross of wood
And felt the midday sun go dark
As our savior’s life was fading
I know not to what God they swore
What creed they knew if any
For many met their fate back then
And many more would follow
So many lives laid low
I fear that we will never know
How many unknown saviors died
To bear our sins forgotten

— Ian Philps

A poem for Lent

Walking with God: Matthew 6: 1, 5, 7-8

Matthew 6: 1, 5, 7-8 (NRSV) “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward…When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

With all of the recent furor over Bible-signing in South Alabama, I’m somehow taken back to my boyhood.

In 1962, my Dad invited a fellow Louisville Seminary student, a Japanese man named Minoru Shimizu, to speak at our little church outside Bardstown, Kentucky.

“Only two decades ago, we were mortal enemies,” he said. “But today, we are brethren together in the love of Christ.”

Not only was I, a 9-yr old boy, completely taken by his message of humility, grace, and forgiveness (only 17 yrs after WWII), but I treasure the fact that he also signed the inside cover of my Bible and wrote John 3:16 in Japanese.

I have no idea what happened to it, but I would give so very much to have THAT Bible again!

O Divine Creator,
Help me to remember today who is God, and who isn’t.  Help me to remember that the road of grace is sometimes fraught with difficulty and pain, but leads to a destination of peace and joy in my heart, as long as I remember and practice your own lessons of humility and forgiveness. 

— Tim Banks

Walking with God: Matthew 6: 1, 5, 7-8

Walking with God Through Holy Week

How do we open our eyes to see God to experience the Divine around us, especially through our everyday lives?  This is the question we have posed and focused on during our Lenten Journey – Walking with God.  My prayer is that as you have walked, you have experienced God in new ways and have drawn closer to the living God. As we enter Holy Week, we do so expectantly.  Holy Week offers us an ability to move from a day-to-day experience with God to one marked by Jesus’ journey to the cross.

What if we started each day this week declaring, “Today, I expect to see God.”, what would we encounter?  The Bible is filled with reminders and calls to remember God’s presence. Why? I believe we need reminders – we are busy, forgetful, finite beings. Often, we can only absorb what is right in front of us and our lives can become so full, we forget to pause.  We forget to actively recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit around us.  Stopping – physically and mentally; centering ourselves is an important process to aligning our lives to the work of the Holy Spirit.  There are moments in our lives where we feel the presence of God.  These “God or holy moments” are critical milestones in our walk with God. They signify not only the presence of God, but God’s active love.  Holy Week offers us a unique time to experience God and to create moments to directly seek the presence of God.  

Yesterday, we celebrated the hosanna moment of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  Although the crowd didn’t fully know Jesus, they were moved.  They were changed as they experienced the presence of the Messiah as he entered the city.  Yet many didn’t recognize him fully as the Messiah.  Rather, they wanted the freedom from an earthly, powerful king to change and improve their lives.  As we reflect on Jesus’ entry, we see Jesus not as an earthly king of power and prestige but a heavenly king bringing mercy, grace and love to a hurting and yearning world.  Jesus is the Emmanuel – “God with us” – which we seek to experience and know as we journey this week.

Throughout this Holy Week, our opportunity is to stop and center ourselves to the movements of the Holy Spirit as we too journey with Jesus on the walk toward the cross.  As we reflect on Jesus’ time in Jerusalem and the celebration of Passover, to Maundy Thursday as he spends his last servant days with his disciples, to the darkness of Good Friday, and finally the resurrection joy of Easter morning, we have many opportunities to pause and to absorb the love and the sacrifice of Jesus’ journey. As we journey this week, as you walk with God, stop the busyness of your life and seek to experience God.  Begin each day with the prayer, “show me,” seeking to fully experience the Jesus who walked the pathway to the Cross.  Expect to see God this week and be changed. 

— Rusty Bennett

Walking with God Through Holy Week