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Here is a great opportunity to pour out the love of Christ on our special needs community in special way. On February 9th and 10th, Southside Baptist Church is hosting their annual Special Needs Valentine Banquet! God is really moving in this ministry by taking something small and growing it. This year an estimated 200 attendees are expected for both nights, which means volunteers are greatly needed.
To sign-up contact Allison Bennett Tofflemire at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-683-0871. You are welcome to bring your families with you as ALL are invited. Please let Allison know so she can assess how many to expect.
Ways to help are:
Assist at each table in anyway needed
Serve food for folks
Help with games
Assist in giving prizes
Help prepare food (Chili specifically; must contact Allison to be sure if needed)
Setting up gymnasium
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 9:6
Babies are born everyday. Lots of them. About 350,000 babies are born each day on this earth. During the time it takes you to read this, more than 500 babies will join the human race. Nothing could have been more natural, even normal, about the birth of a baby boy a couple thousand years ago in the village of Bethlehem to a woman named Mary. Thousands of babies were born that same day in towns all across the globe.
And yet, the birth of Jesus was totally different. This week, more than two thousand years later, we are still celebrating it. This birth would change the course of history. A king was being born, taking His first earthly breath, but, he wasn’t from this world. This baby Jesus was God Himself. God was coming to be with us! The King of kings and Lord of lords, the God who exists in all places at all times, who has existed in all time, eternity past and future, this God stepped into a specific time in history and to a specific place on this planet. This birth would change everything!
My kids asked me recently which holiday is my favorite. Christmas, of course. It’s not just decorated trees, presents, cold weather, and holiday blend coffee that make it so great. I love those things but that’s not what makes Christmas so special. During this season we celebrate God Himself coming to be with us, taking on flesh and stepping into our reality. Our lives can never be the same knowing that the creator of this universe, our creator, has stepped into a specific moment and place in history to be with us.
What’s so amazing about this story, what God was setting in motion on that day in Bethlehem, is that God is STILL with us! Some of Jesus’ last words on this earth were to reassure the disciples that He is with them, FOREVER. Matthew 28:20b "And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Jesus is with you, always, till the very end! We don’t have to ever be alone. The Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace wants to BE WITH YOU FOREVER! Let Him be what you fix the focus of your celebration and adoration this holiday season! He’s with you!
As we prepare to worship tomorrow and celebrate the final week of Advent, the song “Is He Worthy” by Andrew Peterson has been on replay in my mind. I go to sleep with the words ringing in my ears and wake up to it resounding. It speaks so profoundly of what the whole world is yearning for; the coming King. (Romans 8)
Advent reminds us each week of the the hope, peace, love and joy that we find in Jesus’s coming at his birth, in our lives today and what we can look forward to in the future when He makes all things new. This is so important not to miss.
At Christmas, it’s easy to focus on the birth of the Messiah and to reflect on what it means to have a relationship with Jesus now, and rightly so. It’s amazing, beautiful and true! But how often during this season do we look ahead to Jesus’ return?
I’ve had several moments this past month that have reminded me of how broken our world is. Our celebration of Advent has helped me overcome what could have easily become despair. It has been a healthy reminder of Jesus life, death and resurrection. It’s given me many visual reminders of His presence with me now, and opportunities to lean into that relationship. But it has also grounded me in the knowledge that Jesus is coming again, and he’s going to fix what is broken. (Revelation 21:5)
I love this. I need to be reminded of this. We all do. And it’s not just a future hope. He’s invited us to be a part of this now by giving us the ministry of reconciliation. As we love one another in Christ and extend that love to the world around us, God’s kingdom is advancing. That is good news! (John 13:34-35, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
“Is it good that we remind ourselves of this? It is.”
Tomorrow, and Monday as we gather with family for our Christmas Eve services, let’s celebrate and remember.
Let’s celebrate the birth of hope.
Let’s allow the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts and minds.
Let’s remember the good news of great joy that is for all people and express that joy in worship.
Let’s remember how great the love is that the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called sons and daughters of God, and the Son he gave so that we might bear that name.
And, let’s not forget that a day is coming soon where everything that is broken will be made new by the baby in the manger, who bore the nails, who defeated death and who has promised to return.
“Is He Worthy? He is!”
This was my response upon learning that my parents and sister broke a 40-year tradition of eating Thanksgiving dinner together this year. The reason? Two weeks before the holiday, my sister suggested chili as the main dish in lieu of turkey. This suggestion left my parents befuddled. Depending on whose account of the conversation you are presently enduring, potato salad made the chopping block too. In the end, the proposed menu changes and ensuing arguments angered them all, and the decision was made to spend Thanksgiving apart. They live across the street from one another.
Needless to say, holidays with extended family can be tricky. They may be loaded with expectations or riddled with baggage. Minor annoyances become major offenses when unforgiveness festers from years of unresolved conflict. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sin.” Love covered a multitude of sin in no greater way than at the cross. While we were still sinners, Christ did for us (Romans 5:8). This was a demonstration of God’s love; we are, above all, deeply loved by Him. Because we have been sacrificially loved and radically forgiven, we have the ability to cover a multitude of sin with our love.
No doubt, there will be opportunities this holiday season to be annoyed, offended, and sinned against. Someone may frustrate, embarrass, or hurt you. Here are a few tips to prepare you for the battle. First, it helps me to remember that I, too, relationally sin against other people, so I never have high ground on which to elevate myself. This truth humbles me when I believe it. Second, it helps to anticipate opportunities to forgive and extend grace. If I expect disappointment, I’m not surprised by it. I’m better prepared to avoid defensiveness and disarm potential conflict if I’m prepared for battle. Three, because of Christ in me, I desire to love others well independent of their care for me, and the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in me. If this power can raise the dead, I trust it can manage to love a disagreeable family member.
Jesus often found himself in a mixed bag of company while celebrating festivals and holidays. You will too. May He give us eyes to see, hearts to feel, and courage to move toward others this Christmas with love!