No two days…

One amazing aspect of ministry, or perhaps life in general, is that no twos days are just alike. It is a reality especially true in an urban setting of life and ministry such as we experience here in the Southside community. We work and minister in a neighborhood where diversity is the norm; yet, all too often we fail to see the commonalities we share with those we meet on the street, in the restaurants, on the bus, in the coffee shop, classroom, office building or grocery store. What do we make of this, and as Christians, how do we respond to each day and what that day brings? We have some of the greatest opportunities and experiences given to anyone because the world has come to our neighborhood. People from all walks of life, from all over the world live, attend school, work, start families and interact daily in our city with a hope that tomorrow will be better than today. We have the privilege to make the lives of all better by demonstrating the love of God we have received. Everyone we meet has the basic need to know that are significant; that they matter to someone. How difficult is it to speak a kind word, share a smile, or even ask someone how they feel or what they think about some problem or issue? We may not be able to do everything, but we can do something. Pray that God will guide you and me and that together we will allow the love of Christ to shine in us and through us to those in need of that love.

No two days…

Fellowship and Hospitality

We enjoyed a very good day at Southside on Sunday. It was great to see several of the Scotland travel group in Worship and to hear how much they all enjoyed the trip. We were also privileged to have a number of guests in Worship as well as a few members who have been away for some time. The hospitality Southside members extend to guests and the loving and gracious way all are welcomed is wonderful to see and is indicative of the warm and loving spirit of fellowship we all enjoy. I hope you will be reminded to invite friends, co-workers and neighbors to join you for worship, study, fellowship and service where they too can experience with you the joy of the rich fellowship we share. There are several such events this week:
  • Wednesday evening, we’ll have a fellowship and picnic for all church members at the home of Stuart and Leigh Collier on Weiss Lake in Cedar Bluff, AL. Details are listed in the announcement below.
  • 5:30 p.m. Thursday — our weekly Contemplative Service resumes. This brief, quiet and reflective service of prayer and meditation lasts 30–40 minutes and concludes with an invitation to receive Holy Communion.
  • 8:30 a.m. Saturday — Another Five Points Clean and Clear service day is planned. Those participating in the two previous service days found the events to be very beneficial to our community and an outstanding way to get to know some of the residents, business owners, UAB students and members of the other Five Points churches.
Please consider being a part of these gatherings with church family and friends and celebrate the tie that binds us together.
Fellowship and Hospitality

Remember to be Pleasing

Everyone agreed the morning had started off with more inconveniences and stressors than usual as we gathered for our weekly staff meeting Tuesday. There were unusual traffic delays and bad drivers, unexpected requests from family members, and parking issues with which to deal. Everyone commented on why the morning events created this level of frustration. Soon though, we experienced one of those humbling “God moments” that stops us in our tracks and calls us to put things into perspective.

Dr. Banks shared with us the Prayer for the Day from the BBC. Listening to this prayer, we were reminded that our human inclination is to express our displeasure and frustration when things do not go our way and perhaps, even to lash out at someone. We were also reminded that there is a correct way to go about expressing ourselves when dealing with a problem, or responding to someone’s lack of consideration. The presenter of the prayer, after having almost made a spectacle of herself by confronting someone, said that the experience “really challenged me to think about how I come across to people, and [to make] sure that my words and actions back up who I claim to be!”

Her prayer challenged all of us. She closed her prayer with these words of David found in Psalm 19: May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. 

Good words for all of us to remember.

Remember to be Pleasing

Independence

I hope you all participated in opportunities to celebrate Independence Day yesterday and to reflect and give thanks for the liberty we enjoy. I mentioned Sunday that in addition to other freedoms we enjoy, Baptists in Colonial America played a significant role ensuring that religious liberty would be a stated right in the newly formed United States. John Leland, an American Baptist minister residing in Virginia at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed, was at the forefront in the struggle for religious liberty. He held tenaciously to the passionate belief that every individual would alone give an account before God, therefore, in no way could a magistrate or government speak for them. Leland made his beliefs, concerns and hopes known to two individuals that he came to know while in Virginia: James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Leland’s persistence and passionate call for religious liberty made way for James Madison to be seated in the first congress and subsequently make the submission of the First Amendment to the Constitution: Religious liberty. Would we have religious liberty as we know it had Leland and others not supported the cause and pushed so ardently for it? No one can say for sure, but his stand, along with many others, has endured through time. I wonder if we sometimes lose sight of the time, energy and conviction of individuals that bequeathed the freedom we enjoy and I hope and pray that we never lose sight of those who gave their lives for all the freedoms we enjoy. May we exercise them by being good citizens and, above all, good followers of Jesus the Christ.

Please remember that we have no Wednesday evening activities in the month of July. But we will be here Sunday morning with our regularly scheduled events. I hope to see you then.

Independence

Christ’s Love Compels Us

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship annual gathering (General Assembly) was held June 28-30 in Atlanta, Georgia. I, along with my daughter and recently ordained deacon here at Southside Baptist Church, Annah Lauren Kelley, were privileged to attend the gathering this year. The worship services, workshops, and opportunities to reconnect with old friends and find new ones makes these annual gatherings wonderful events, but this one was even more special. This gathering was the 25th Anniversary of CBF which created a heightened sense of excitement and celebration. Plenary sessions for business and worship were held as were break-out sessions that focused on a variety of topics.

The worship services were moving with uplifting music, inspiring stories and testimonies from missionaries around the world, and preaching that challenged our call and commitment to being the presence of Christ in our communities and around the world. Twenty-five years ago, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was formed for the same reason that those gathered last week pledged prayer and monetary support for missions. Simply put, “The love of Christ compels us,” which was also the theme for the meeting this year.

The three days at this gathering and away from my daily routine provided an opportunity to step away from my daily tasks, prayerfully ask myself some tough questions about about our mission at SSBC and our engagement in missions in our community and around the world. Some of those questions were: Do we see one another as Christ sees us? Do we see the world around us through the eyes of Christ? Does Christ’s love compel us to be moved with compassion and take action even when it calls for sacrifice? Jesus commissioned his disciples to go and make other disciples, teaching everything that Jesus had taught them. Jesus taught using words and actions, and through his actions he demonstrated the ways of compassion, of grace, forgiveness and love. Through his actions barriers of division and separation were removed and all were invited in. It was and is the way of Jesus the Christ.

I enjoy our journey together,
Tim Kelley

Christ’s Love Compels Us

Hymn Sing and Moments of Meditation

A special program of fellowship and worship is planned for tonight. We will gather in Drennen Hall at 5:30 p.m. for the Fellowship Supper and Prayer Time, followed by a much requested hymn sing. This is the last of our regular Wednesday evening gatherings until new programs are launched in August. I hope you will be present as we sing some of our favorite hymns and hear from a few individuals about why a certain hymn is their favorite.

At the Contemplative service on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., the focus of the music, meditation and prayer will be Ephesians 3:14-21, the text selected for worship this Sunday. Join us for this time of quiet reflection during which efforts are made to clear our minds of all the clutter of a busy workday and week and all the random thoughts and anxiety-producing memories, so that we may sit quietly and attentively listen with our hearts and minds as the Spirit of Christ speaks to us.

I look forward to seeing you at either or both of these opportunities.

Hymn Sing and Moments of Meditation

The Power of Word and Action

Sunday, June 4, 2017, fifty days after Easter, is the Day of Pentecost. It was on Pentecost that the Church was born. Many miraculous events took place on the Day of Pentecost when an unlikely group of average people became world changers gifted to fulfill their calling. The acts of the Apostles chronicled in the book of Acts were accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit that was heard and seen that day when it was manifested as the sound of a mighty rushing wind and as tongues of fire. It was a dramatic and spectacular entry of this promised gift; a gift that remains and will remain until the end of this age. It is this powerful presence that dwells in the hearts and lives of each and every believer to be our companion, teacher, guide and comforter.

Thinking about this wonderful day in the life of the Church, I was reminded of a passage by George Fox, 17th century founder and leader of the Quakers. This brief passage, which Richard Foster included in his book, “Devotional Classics” comes from one of over 3,000 letters Fox wrote to individuals and groups encouraging them to listen to, rely upon, and be guided by the Holy Spirit in all things.

My little children in the Lord God Almighty, this is my joy that you all be ordered and guided by the mighty power of God. Know that Voice that speaks, the sound of the words, and the power of them. Therefore, walk in the power of the Truth that the name of the Lord God may be glorified among you, his renown may be seen in you and among you, and all the world may be astonished, and the Lord admired in ordering of his people who are guided by his Wisdom. – George Fox [Letter 79]

Almost 1,700 years after the Day of Pentecost, Fox urged fellow Christians to yield to the Spirit’s guidance and become the instrument that God created them to be. And now, almost 2,000 years after God gave the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are reminded and we celebrate that the very same spirit is within us today granting us the privilege and responsibility to be the presence of Christ wherever we may be.

If we are guided by the Spirit of Christ and interact with those we encounter as our neighbors, valuing them as God’s children and seeing each of them as worthy of God’s love, mercy and grace, then the words of Fox will surely be borne out,

Therefore, walk in the power of the Truth that the name of the Lord God may be glorified among you.

May it be so.

The Power of Word and Action