Beautiful, marvelous, uplifting and inspiring are some of the adjectives used by worshippers to describe their experience last Sunday. Many guests and members expressed how moved they were by the service in which all elements directed attention to the love, mercy and grace of the one true and living God. The wonderful music of the organ and choir, the congregational singing, scripture lessons, heart-felt prayers and the sincere words from Rev. Jones and Rabbi Miller left everyone feeling more grateful to God and hopeful about life than when we arrived. Thank you to all who helped make this such a wonderful day at Southside. We were all greatly blessed through worship and through the fellowship of sharing a meal together. It was indeed a great day of remembrance, celebration and hope.
But sadly, while we were celebrating, our brothers and sisters in Texas were suffering devastation. The images of the destruction and flooding of homes and businesses in Houston bring a heaviness to our hearts. Seeing the images and hearing about the severe hardships and safety issues leading to injuries and loss of life prompt us to want to do something to help, but what? There are trained disaster relief responders providing direct services to the victims that need our prayers and support which we can provide by making financial gifts through various organizations. These organizations have plans and procedures in place to be the conduit for financial aid to this area. If you would like to make a financial gift to aid the victims of this natural disaster, you can do so through Southside Baptist Church by noting on your check “Disaster Relief-Harvey” or you can give online here.
Sunday was a wonderful day at Southside Baptist Church! The baptism of Shawny Tucker gave opportunity for us to celebrate with the newest member of the Southside Baptist family of faith. It also allowed us time to recall and reflect upon our own decisions to follow Christ and enter the baptismal waters. The music from the prelude through the postlude, the heartfelt words both spoken and sung and the visible steps taken in discipleship lifted our spirits and were reminders of the wonder of God’s love, mercy and grace.
This Sunday, August 27, another wonderful opportunity of worship is planned as former Pastor, Rev. Steve Jones, and Rabbi Jonathan Miller, recently retired from Temple Emanu-El after 27 years of leadership, speak during worship. Rev. Jones and Rabbi Miller, along with their congregations, forged a very special relationship during their tenures of service and leadership. Southside Baptist opening its doors to Temple Emanu-El while their building was under renovation was a gesture that also opened doors to interfaith dialogue and spiritual growth for both congregations. Rev. Jones and Rabbi Miller will share some personal thoughts and experiences of this wonderful interfaith relationship that blossomed and continues to be cherished by Southside Baptist Church and Temple Emanu-El.
Following worship, a covered-dish luncheon will be held in the Fellowship Hall to which everyone is invited. The church is providing the meat, bread and beverages, so members are asked to provide a salad, vegetable or dessert.
Make plans to be present and celebrate this time of fellowship around the table with friends old and new.
The events of the last week brought to light the reality of evil harbored in the hearts of humankind. I do not personally know anyone that has expressed a strong belief that any race is inherently superior to another, or of any people group to another; yet, I do know that such beliefs are held by many, as displayed this week, and that there is a desire by some to see that ideology accepted and even embraced and promoted. One may argue that the free expression of these beliefs is a right, but in this rhetoric, where are the values of compassion, equality and the worth and dignity of every human being? These are core beliefs that we cite as setting our nation apart. Acts of violence, destruction, oppression and the taking of lives are manifestations of evil that has conditioned one’s mind and heart to believe such an ideology is justifiable. It is counter to what we hold as being the backbone of our country and, for those who are Christians, it makes a mockery of what we hold most dear, our faith in Jesus the Christ. There is nothing in the life and teachings of Jesus that even hint that such views, beliefs or actions can be condoned, much less held and acted on by anyone who professes to follow Christ.
How does the Church and in turn the individual Christian speak to this issue without letting our own outrage prompt an emotional and possibly destructive response? Though difficult, our call is to promote the cause of Christ in all situations; to speak truth and love into situations of evil and hate and to pray that the Spirit of Christ will guide us in what to say and do.
An online devotional I regularly read invites this week’s readers to consider how faith affects the way one lives each day by asking these questions: Does your faith strongly influence the way you live each day? Is your faith more knowledge, belief or trust? Using the text of Matthew 14:22-33, the writer describes the event of Jesus walking on water towards the disciples who find themselves in their small boats fighting the winds and the sea as they cross the Sea of Galilee at night. You, no doubt, know this account well and the scriptural description of how an eager, faith-filled Peter steps out of the boat and successfully walks on the water until the wind and the waves catch his eye and he begins to doubt. When he doubts and takes his eyes off of Jesus, he begins to sink into the sea. He cries out for Jesus to save him and Jesus does. He pulls him up and then says to Peter, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Peter had knowledge of who Jesus was and he believed that he was the Son of God. But he wavered in trusting that Jesus would, or could, help him to do what he could not do within his own power. There is a message in this for all who follow Christ today. If we think and plan and attempt only those things for God that are based on knowledge and belief but without trusting, our lives will be lived “in the boat.” Never will we experience the exhilaration and joy that comes with trusting the one who can take the weight and darkness of circumstances that seem so dire and transform them bringing light, hope and life. Trust creates an understanding and invitation to offer authentic words of praise, adoration and devotion as the disciples did in the boat when they said, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
When Jesus says to each of us, “Come,” may we have faith strong enough to trust and then to get out of the safety and security of our “boat” and truly follow. It is only then that our lives are really changed.
Cameron Shepard 8/2
Tracy Nicholson 8/6
Cedric Williams 8/9
Bonnie Lessman 8/9
Dawn Kelley 8/11
Michael Gill 8/17
Ivan Brooks 8/18
Terri Staples 8/24
Vanda Hicks 8/25
Vic Nigri 8/28
Patrick Murphy 8/28
Brenda Tidwell 8/29
Marilyn Shepard 8/31