Sunday, December 18
a collection of choir anthems,
solos, duets, quartets,
with piano, organ and violin.
Invite your friends!
First Baptist Church of Arlington is a church of faith where people can grow to their God given potential. If you are just now exploring the claims of Jesus Christ for the first time as an adult, or if you have been a personal Christian for years, it would be great to have you join us in our spiritual journey.
We are a group of people who are at different places in our spiritual walk discovering together what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century. Some of us are very traditional church folk. Some of us are postmodern. Some of us are young, some wish we were. We are shades of black, brown, and white.
We are a Baptist church because we believe in the centrality of the gospel, the importance of scripture, the necessity of personal faith, and the freedom that is found in Christ. Our faith has provided a place for us to stand in facing life, and we have found some meaningful answers. We also have many questions.
I'm so glad you're looking at our home on the web. If you'd like to know us better, come by on a Sunday morning for our worship service, or drop in at one of our group meetings or special events. Our worship service starts at 10 am.
I'll be here, and I look forward to meeting you.
We are right in the thick of one of the most important seasons of the Christian year, one you may never have heard of before. We are in Advent.
So what is Advent, and why is it so important? Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends Christmas Eve. It is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ, a time of waiting, a time of looking forward to the hope found in Jesus Christ. After consciously going through a time of preparing ourselves to receive and worship the Savior, the celebration of Christmas becomes far more joyful and spiritually rich.
As a kid growing up in the Midwest I never heard of Advent, although I was really familiar with the weeks leading up to Christmas. I loved that special time of the year, and I loved all the goodies I dreamed about getting. Oh, and I loved Jesus, too. Honestly, though, leafing through the Sears catalog toy section beat reading the Bible.
Come to think of it, that kid with the materialistic bent is still alive and kicking. I continue to struggle with balancing the secular and spiritual during these days before Christmas. As a follower of Jesus I certainly know that Christmas is foremost a time to celebrate Jesus’ birth, the coming of God incarnate. It is a Christian day. But my actual life betrays me. I find my time consumed in meeting all the pulls and demands of the secular season. I find my senses bombarded with holy messages from Amazon, Best Buy, Kohl’s and Walmart. I find my interests turning to the annual problem of finding a gift for my wife. (Problem solved this: bought her a lovely, romantic vacuum cleaner.)
Then I hear other voices breaking through the din of the secular noises of Christmastide. Well meaning folks remind me to focus on the real meaning of Christmas. Hallmark cards and church bulletins alike proclaim “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!” TV preachers urge me to help them fly around the world in their new executive jets to give gifts to starving children. And somewhere in the depths of my soul, the quiet, sure voice of the Holy Spirit repeats Jesus’ words: “Come, follow me.” With all the competing demands and only limited shopping days left, just how do I do that?
Paying attention to Advent is a way to grow closer to God even in one of the busiest times of the year. By pausing and preparing ourselves to appreciate the coming of Christ in a fresh vision of faith, Christians will discover a richer, more complete relationship with God. Our lives will be spiritually renewed as we experience a new birth of hope in our Savior. We will know and rejoice that “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NIV)
One of the most touching stories of the first Christmas is that of Joseph trying to find room for Mary who was about to deliver her son. The baby was not his son, he was God’s son. But Joseph had assured responsibility for Mary and the holy child that was about to be born. He tried inn after inn asking for a warm safe place for the miracle of all miracles that was about to happen and after being turned away time after time he finally found a stable.
Certain preparations were made for this birth even as we prepare for the coming of any new baby. My extended family is involved in this very activity as we await the birth of a great nephew who will be given the name of the biblical prophet Micah. Diapers and tiny clothes and receiving blankets are ready for his early December arrival. Surely Mary brought with her the bands of cloth with which she would swaddle the newborn king. Following the custom of generations, baby Jesus was probably washed, rubbed with salt, and then laid on a square of cloth which was then wrapped snuggly around him. Then he was probably wrapped in long narrow cloth strips.
Mary and Joseph had prepared their hearts to receive Jesus. Mary’s thoughts may have been influenced by the song of Hannah at the miraculous birth of her son Samuel. But Mary’s song, called the Magnificat, was recorded in Luke 1:46-48, is even more beautiful.
“My soul does magnify the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”
Joseph’s heart was prepared, too, by messages from God that he had received from an angel.
We are also preparing for Christmas. At church we are counting down the days of Advent. Our sanctuary has been beautifully decorated. The poinsettias are being ordered. The tree is in place. And in our homes, we are cleaning and decorating making way for the celebration of the coming of the Christ Child. And we are also preparing our hearts. We need to clean out the negativism and other emotions which would keep us from fully participating in this wonderful season. When Christmas day arrives, we want to be able to sing, “Oh, come into my heart, Lord Jesus. There is room in my heart for you.”