The Advent of Neighbors
Advent calls us to worship our King as he reigns from the Manger. In a world marked by terror and turmoil, we “worship Christ, the newborn King,” and welcome neighbors into our church for Winter Festival. We ring the bells of Christmas and baptize new believers into the body of Christ.
This past weekend was a powerful testimony to each other and our world. Friday night, our praise team and band led the first-ever “Christmas Night of Worship.” Our stage crew customized the platform with Christmas decorations to set the tone for the evening. Over 170 people from all ages gathered in our sanctuary to sing familiar Christmas carols set to new arrangements. Josh preached a powerful, encouraging message of hope in a troubled world. Our church is blessed with great musical talent, and the full praise band and musicians led by George Feijoo and Pam Cooke. They invited us to “Come Home for Christmas.”
On Saturday, through hospitality and music, we opened our doors and welcomed the downtown community. The Winter Festival was one of our largest crowds ever. offering people a place to change diapers, enjoy coffee, watch a ballgame, and welcome people in Jesus’s name. Because of the large crowds, we actually ran out of cider and cookies this year. Thanks to Becky Liner and Hannah Watt for coordinating this effort. After the Christmas parade, people rushed in for hot cider, coffee, and a warm place to gather. Our hospitality area stayed fully furnished by Susie Bell. Mothers especially appreciated the baby comfort room. Over 80 volunteers and staff went over and above to show the love of Christ to those that walked through our doors. Deacons bussed volunteers from 3:00-10:30! Paula Link greeted kids and brought joy to those that came through the doors. Then our custodial staff prepared the building for Sunday worship flawlessly. Many more volunteers made this possible.
Penny Folsom and a choir of bells announced the good news of Christmas. Ringers from seven area bell choirs rehearsed all day and performed at 4:00 p.m. Over 340 guests filled the sanctuary and enjoyed the sounds of bells, chimes, organ, trumpet, and percussion. This is the body of Christ celebrating his birth together with joyful music.
To cap a great weekend, we baptized four new believers and celebrated the new birth of Jesus in their lives. It would be virtually impossible for every person in our church to attend all of these events. But you are very much a part of these ministries whether or not you’re present. This weekend is no exception. We have two fantastic opportunities to invite families and friends to the manger.
On Saturday, our children’s ministry invites you to the annual Breakfast in Bethlehem in Fellowship Hall at 9:30 a.m. Bring a young neighbor who enjoys dressing up and imagining the Christmas story in costume. On Sunday, our sanctuary choir, orchestra, children, and drama ministries present, “Come Home for Christmas.” Our annual Christmas musical will be a powerful night of inspiration and praise. We begin at 6:00 p.m. A love offering will be taken. Invite someone who’s not connected with a local church, and introduce them to the Way we live our faith at First Baptist.
Why do we do these things? To glorify Christ in the manger. A principal from a local school commented, “Thank you for doing this for the community. It really shows your commitment to serving Christ.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s timeless poem about Christmas bells has a message for us today. “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, ‘God is not dead nor doth he sleep.’ The wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men.”
Many thanks to Hannah Watt, Penny Folsom, Becky Liner, and Linda Teague for her assistance with these stories.