Pastor John Chowning - Saloma Baptist Church
We are in the midst of celebrating the birth of the Christ of Christmas more than 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. The birth of Jesus is a monumental intervention by God in the course of history as He sent His only begotten Son (John 3:16) so that we might believe in Him and have eternal life. It is only through faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved from the penalty of our sins and that we have eternal life.
Much of our Christmas observances in the United States has become secularized and commercialized. Many businesses depend upon this season of the year to make their business profitable. In the name of not offending others, we have removed the word "Christmas" from our celebration outside the church resulting in phrases such as "Happy Holidays and Winter Festival." In many ways, the "Christ" of "Christmas" is no longer at the heart of the celebration.
At Saloma Baptist Church, we place Jesus Christ "front and center" in our Advent and Christmas observances. In addition to the worship and Bible study emphases of the season which focus on the Good News of His birth, we seek to reach out into our community and world in the name of the Christ of Christmas. It is our goal to share the Good News with those around us and to support the spread of the Gospel throughout the world.
We do this in several ways. The SBC WMU prepares and shares fruit baskets with shutins and families undergoing particular difficulties at this time. We participate in the Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree program whereby we purchase gifts, on behalf of the incarcerated parent or guardian, for children in Taylor County whose parents are currently in prison. We collect new and gently-used toys in support of the local Fire Department's Toy for Kids Christmas ministry. We distribute Christmas buttons in the local community that announce that Jesus is the "reason for the season." We are giving away copies of Janet Denison's Advent devotional guide titled "Christmas - In the Name of Jesus." And we are raising funds, sponsored by the WMU, for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering that will go to support Baptist global missions.
Certainly, the Advent and Christmas season is a time to spend with family, to give and receive gifts, to decorate our homes and church sanctuary, and to worship together in celebrating the Good News of "Immanuel - God With Us!" However, it is even more a time in which we have a unique opportunity to share with our community and world this message: "Joy to the world, the Lord has come!