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A Note from Pastor Jason

The beginning of a new year often comes with the promise of positive possibility. Whether your reflections on your 2018 are beautiful, burdensome or blurry, 2019 still holds mystery, and we enter it with fresh hope. As a church, we’ve made many energizing ministry commitments, and I know you’re excited to see how those will unfold. As individuals, you may still be working out your New Year’s resolutions, I imagine with renewed vigor to see the best ones bring about a better you and a better world. We learned during advent that it’s the anticipation of good things that often fosters great joy in our lives. As you look forward, I hope you’ve found some things to look forward to.

Personally, I move forward now with mixed emotions. I am as hopeful and energized about the future of Second Baptist as I’ve ever been. New faces and new, growing ministries and mission partnerships continue to stoke the fire of my enthusiasm. And yet, in the midst of this enthusiasm, there is also grief over a new reality I’m not sure any of has ever been ready to welcome. 

January 2019 is the first January in almost 40 years when Second Baptist Church hasn’t had Ann Posey’s masterful mind, feet and fingers operating our organ. Can you believe it? We’ve known this moment was coming. We’ve planned for it. We’ve celebrated Ann in the midst of it, but I’m not quite ready. This moment comes for me, as it rightly has for many of you, with a mixture of gratitude and grief. And this is because Ann Posey has been far more than our Organist.

To be sure, 40 years of prompting our worship of God from the organ would be worthy of great admiration and celebration. It’s just that Organist doesn’t quite capture Ann, not her work or the impact of her presence among us. Over the years Ann’s job description grew well beyond that of accompanist. She ministered to us through orchestras, instrumental groups, choirs, the organization of countless events and worship services, by administering care to the hurting, shaping the lives of Christ-followers – old and young, (and so much more!). Along the way, she also offered wisdom and nurture to all the pastors she worked with, not the least of which a rookie from East-Texas who she’s kindly, quietly helped shepherd into this role over the last decade. 

We recently changed Ann’s title from Organist to Worship and Music Associate. A long overdue move which still falls short of capturing Ann’s “role.” This is, perhaps, the legacy that saints like Ann so often live into. They become far more than their job, far more than they ever imagined they would be, simply by being and doing, faithfully serving God and God’s people in one place, over time. Ann has done this so well - well in ways far beyond what my words struggle to capture. For that, she has become not our organist, nor our worship and music associate, but most of all, our beloved Ann. 

Fred Rogers once said “Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else. I've felt that many times. My hope for all of us is that "the miles we go before we sleep" will be filled with all the feelings that come from deep caring - delight, sadness, joy, wisdom - and that in all the endings of our life, we will be able to see the new beginnings.”

Ann, as you and Phil move into this new beginning, may you take time both to revel in the marvel of the miles that have passed—all you’ve given to them, and all they’ve given to you. And, as you go forth (with this community of love – that loves you – continuing as your forever earthly home) may you go with gladness, wonder, and the possibility for the future joys that await. 
And may we all follow your lead, with fresh wonder and vigor for the future that lies ahead. 

With Gratitude and Hope,

Jason Edwards 

Posted by Jason Edwards at Monday, December 31, 2018
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No Longer Orphans by Steve Hemphill

Sunday, December 30

Psalm 96, 97

The author of Psalm 96 and 97 is surely excited about the sovereignty of God. It is apparent he is speaking to people who are accustomed to worshiping various gods, images, nature... you name it. The concept of there being but one God was still a little hard to swallow for many. It still is.

The Psalmist is exclaiming the greatness of God to the peoples of the earth which, at that time, extended a few hundred miles. It boggles my mind when I travel the globe and share the same Christian experience. A few weeks ago, I was in Ukraine visiting the Revival Church in Kiev. Ukraine is experiencing a terrible orphan crisis due mainly to the war still raging with Russian separatists in the Eastern part of the country. There are nearly 100,000 orphans being warehoused as there is no 'safety net' for them. The Pastor of Revival Church deciding the Gospel demanded something be done, launched the “100 Happy Kids” project. He is recruiting 10 couples to each adopt 10 children... EACH!  They are already on their 3rd family! Repeat the Sounding Joy!

We are raising funds to build homes for these families. It seems the least we can do when these Christians are willing to make such a stunning commitment. The Pastor says he hopes these 100 kids will be so grateful for having been rescued into loving Christian families that someday they will each adopt 10 kids and we'll change the name to the “1000 Happy Kids” project. Repeat the Sounding Joy!

That level of God's love is staggering and somewhat intimidating. But, just like the Psalmist... it is worth repeating that joy from the mountaintops to the rest of the world.  

The excitement of Advent and Christmas is over. But, now we should be excited about what the new year brings and the chance to start anew. When we see unusual examples of God's work in this world, let's exclaim it from the mountaintops... or perhaps just tell our many contacts of God's great joy and the Hope He brings. Repeat the Sounding Joy! It will make for a great new year and surely God will be pleased. Is there a better New Year's Resolution. I don't think so!

Steve Hemphill

at Sunday, December 30, 2018
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Engaging Conversation by Blane Baker

Saturday, December 29

Luke 2:41-52

“Why did you seek me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49)   

In our passage today, we find Jesus and his family in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. Jesus is now twelve years old and apparently independent enough to move around the city and talk with others outside his immediate family. From the context of the passage, Jesus is using his newfound freedom to learn and to grow in preparation for His future ministry. His family begins their journey home after Passover, they assume Jesus is among the company of those who are traveling with them. Luke’s account of the story, however, describes Jesus lingering in Jerusalem. 

After going a day’s journey, Jesus’ parents realize that he is not among the travelers in their group. They are worried and return to Jerusalem to search for Him. They eventually find Him in the temple where he is listening to the teachers and asking them questions. Luke writes that all were astonished by Jesus’ understanding and answers. Once he is discovered in the temple, His parents naturally ask why he did not stay with the group as they began their journey home. Jesus replies simply that He must be about His Father’s business. They do not understand His answer, but they probably remember His words later. Jesus returns home with them, remains under their care and supervision, and continues to grow in wisdom and stature until the time He begins His ministry.          

As a longtime teacher, I have learned to listen to my students and to respond to their questions and insights. Several years ago, I was showing some standard electricity demonstrations in class. A couple of students asked what would happen if we slightly changed the conditions of the demonstration. Some suggested that we would observe different results. After trying the students’ ideas, we found a new way to show forces between electric charges. Ultimately, we were able to publish our results in a scientific journal. Our novel demonstration is a wonderful example of learning from each other through engaging dialogue.   

This Christmas Season I encourage each of us to find time to linger, to ask questions, and to gain new insights. God is speaking. And we know the world needs the love, peace, and joy that Advent brings. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, we ask that God grant us patience and wisdom to engage with others so that we will grow closer to Him.   

Blane Baker   

at Saturday, December 29, 2018
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