Many people have access to a devotional guide for the advent season. Buckner (the non-profit out of Texas that collaborates with our church. buckner.org) publishes one every year and asks staff from every branch of the company and involved patrons to contribute writings. I was impressed by how well it was designed and pulled-off this year. I was given the opportunity to contribute to the selections and thought I would share it with everyone.
Click the title link below to read the advent devotional for November 29, 2010.
Last night was a huge success! And this is how I measure success for an event like our Thanksgiving Basket Building Party...
1) When people of different backgrounds, economic situations, and cultural upbringings come together and laugh, conversate, and smile. That's success.
2) When everyone who comes leaves with something they did not have before (e.g. a Thanksgiving basket of food, a memory of joy, a heart that is warm from doing something unselfish for someone else). That's success.
3) When the local body of believers in Christ comes together to offer two of the most valuable things in our society, money and time, freely to exemplify the free gift of grace that God offers his creation. That's success.
Thanks to all who came, helped, gave food, gave time, gave money, gave smiles, etc. etc. etc.
Here are the beautiful and grateful words from our Community Ministry Committee chair, Lisa.
Dear Wonderful Volunteers,
Thank you for your hospitality and work on behalf of the First Thanksgiving Basket Building Party. Many, many individuals left First Baptist Church last night with food and love for this holiday. I talked to several individuals who wanted to know if FBC members were always this nice and gracious. Isn't this one of the benefits we hoped would come from this event?
If the children are happy, the adults will be happy. North Hallock Hall was transformed into an exciting children's playroom. I always believe if we can give the children a few hours of attention, fun, and relaxation, we have followed Jesus' directions to minister to the most vulnerable. The Beanie Babies were a huge success and unexpected treat. What a sweet gift and reminder of this special evening for the children!
Joey, we appreciate your leadership and planning. The evening was a big success and I hope that you are pleased with the results. I can see it growing in the future.
I hope your family has a blessed and safe Thanksgiving!
When I arrived to work at 7:45 this morning things were slow. I turned on the lights, disarmed the alarm, and took a few deep breaths as I decided to keep a dim ambiance in my office by only turning on the lamp.
All before 9am...
A local crack-dealer came by to use the restroom of the church and with the utmost of sincerity confessed that the voices in his head have been tempting him towards violence. To which I responded, "Well, we all have voices in our heads. The hard part is knowing which ones to listen to. Be patient and smart. Don't let anyone try to make you do things you don't want to do."
A friend of mine who's homeless came by to receive a bicycle. He has been diligently looking for jobs, but has been limited by his range due to a lack of transportation. Until now. I look forward most to the conversations I have with people who come in. Everyone has their own obstacle whether it comes from within themselves or from someone around them. Today we discussed the "drama" of the streets. "It's like being back in High School" he said. I laughed.
A woman came by to pick up some sheets because she's been stretching (and ripping) a full set over her queen mattress. She just moved into an apartment, she goes into work early at a fastfood restaurant to prove to her boss that she's a hard worker, and she has a few sons (one of which won't make it out of jail before Thanksgiving). I asked if she would like a painting in my office (one was donated last week). Upon seeing it she gasped and said, "That matches the comforter my sister gave me for Christmas!"
What a morning. I love the people my job allows me to come in contact with. I hope Christ's love is seen in all we do here at FBC Norman as we continue to grow into our missional identity.
I've learned so much from the homeless community of Norman.
For instance, the other day I was talking with a friend of mine who hasn't had anything stable in his life since his dad's expectations of perfection for him as teenager. His story is riddled with drugs, broken relationships, and heartbreak. And, this gentleman is incredibly spiritual. He does not quite have the full picture of the hope, love, and freedom of Christ, but he ignites in my heart an awareness to spirituality. I have learned to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit because of the way my friend sees reality.
I hurt for many believers (like myself) who have lost that spiritual way of living.
This friend recently began writing down the story of his life. He is letting me read it as he works on it. The title of this blog entry, "Never did pay to run from mom couse ya had to come home sometime", I came across as he wrote of his childhood. It is so profoundly hilarious and true. I think we can all relate to this timeless adage.
I've learned so much from the homeless community of Norman.
It seems like every generation of Christians tries to do the best with what they know. I'll go ahead and use some obnoxiously broad generalizations. The generations before our's pioneered the way for the modern Western idea of evangelism (Roman Road, pray a prayer, walk an isle, etc.). Many lives have been and still are being changed through these means. It seems such an appropriate gift to come out of a generation that excelled in making things certain and defined. I am thankful.
And now there is another movement arising. This new movement is not counter to the old, but complementary. This movement does not see as much in black and white, but mixtures of gray with dabs of color, things are not static as they once were, but dynamic and in flux, and relationships determine involvement, because we are starving for real and vulnerable community. Christ is being made known in mysterious new ways. We have been taught the belief aspect of faith from our predecessors and now let us swing back to the balance of faith and action, belief and justice, personal piety and a lifestyle of righteousness.
The stories found in this blog came about because of this new movement. I simply was tired of sitting in Sunday School. I am proud to be a part of this generational movement, knowing full well that I will need those who come next to swing back the misbalance that I create.
And remember, we are simply trying to do the best with what we know.