A Pastor's Perspective 11-21-2023

   A Pastor’s Perspective…
  When I was a kid, downtown Birmingham was a busy place at Christmas. The malls had yet to be built, and the best shopping in Alabama was in the department stores of downtown Birmingham. It was there I was moving from store to store with my mom. Then, all of a sudden, while transitioning from one store to the next, I found myself alone on the sidewalk. Not alone in the sense that no one was around, but no one who mattered to me was around. Where was my mother? I was the only one standing still, eyes wide open, head turning from side to side and eyes, once clear and wide, would soon begin to cloud with tears. I was lost. I was lost in Christmas.
   The Christmas season will begin in earnest as the sun sets on Thanksgiving Day. The noise will increase and the pace will quicken and as it does we can get lost in that noise and left in that pace. We can be just as lost in Christmas as I was on that Birmingham sidewalk, however as adults we might not be aware enough to be frightened. Yet deep inside we somehow know that something is missing; we just cannot place it. We are lost in Christmas, missing the meaning all the while the season sounds and streams around us.  
   So, here are a couple of suggestions for not getting lost in Christmas.
   First, do not miss Thanksgiving. It seems we go straight from Halloween to Black Friday now. Express gratitude. Take the time to send notes of appreciation to those to whom you are thankful. Reflect on gratitude. Take five days and each day write down five things you are thankful for. At the end of those five days, reflect on the 25 things you are grateful for and verbalize a prayer of gratitude to God for these things. Few things will set you up for being found in Christmas better than gratitude.
   Second, realize that while Christmas comes each year, it can still pass you by, like so many shoppers on a busy city sidewalk. We are going to give you multiple opportunities to engage with Christmas. The Singing Christmas Tree, The Burning Bright Sermon Series, Family Advent devotional, and as always our meaningful Christmas Eve candle light services. Do not miss these things as well as others, but do not merely come either. Invite someone to join you, and engage with not just your presence but with your heart and mind. Think about and pray about these things we treasure at Christmas. Chiefly that God so Loved the world that He gave ...
Looking forward,
   PS: Yes! My mother found me as quickly as I became lost. It was no more than minutes and could have been seconds, but it sticks in my memory, and I never want to be lost in Christmas again. I do not want you to be lost either.