In some respects, this has been one of the most challenging years most of us have faced in our lifetimes. With an economy that has upset just about everyone's plans and dreams, many of our relatives and friends fighting in two wars thousands of miles from home, an election year and political uproar unparalleled in any of our memories, continued devastation and rebuilding from a series of violent storms, and further decay of morals and the very foundation upon which our nation was founded, it is no wonder so many are desperately seeking relief and hope from some one or some thing. Tragically, in their frantic search very few are discovering real hope and purpose through Christ.
As believers we need to keep all of this upheaval in proper perspective. Just a little over 2,000 years ago a young woman, hardly into her teen years and unmarried, found that she was pregnant. As a Jewess, this could have spelled the end for her. There was no such thing as women's rights in her world, and the shame of an unwed pregnancy would have reached even into the lives of her family and friends. Her economic situation could not have been much worse, and when it came time to give birth she found only the shelter of a stable and an animal trough for a cradle.
Her people and religion were oppressed by a pagan world government whose moral fabric was rapidly unraveling at the hands of a number of despotic and mentally deranged kings and rulers committing the worst crimes imaginable against their citizens and subjects. In fact, within a brief time of the birth of her baby, one king set out on a mission to kill every Jewish child under the age of two, hoping by sheer odds to do away with this woman's son.
There was great political turmoil, conflicts on an international level, a great influx of new religions and alternative lifestyles each designed to satisfy the most base and selfish impulses of man, and despair and hopelessness on every side. It was not the best of times.
But God's ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. The child carried in Mary's womb was God's. There was no shame in His divine plan, and what man would consider a curse, God turned into unspeakable blessing and joy. The unceremonious entrance of this King into a troubled and difficult world in the cool stillness of a starry night with the most lowly surroundings was an unmistakable declaration of God that He is fully able to work within the bounds of any circumstance. Money, houses, influence, and great power can frequently be the greatest of hindrances when it comes to heralding spiritual truth and eternal hope. There would be no interference from such temporal distractions as a host of heavenly messengers announced and attended the birth of the Son of God!
As you gather with your family and friends this Christmas, I pray that you will not allow the circumstances around you to steal away what God has planned for you. We possess this day worldly wealth and ease that far exceeds that of Mary and Joseph on their special day. Please take time to look beyond this temporary shadow that surrounds us to see the hope and life offered through Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Savior of men's souls.
Carry this message with you to those "outside" who don't yet have the privilege of this perspective. Let them know that far from being utterly cast down and ruined, our Lord offers such love and purpose that will lift us into the holy and majestic presence of God. Have a blessed celebration of the birth of Christ!
Steve & Barbara
John & Esther
January 11 Vernon DeLong (Trinity)
January 17 Bill Mitchell (Mount Zion)
This year at Beaverdam, 43 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes were packed, and over $200 was raised to pay for additional items and for shipping costs. We are extremely proud of our church family as they were only notified of the church's involvement on November 2, and all boxes, items and money had to be in by November 16.
Bedford will present a Live Nativity on the front lawn on Saturday, December 13, 6-8 p.m. The Children's Choir will present the musical, "Christmas Around the World," on Sunday, December 14. A Christmas music program, "Seasons Greetings," will be presented during the 10:55 morning worship on December 21. A Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service will be celebrated at 7 p.m.; pre-service concert at 6:30.
Combined choirs from Hunting Creek and Trinity will present "A Night to Remember" at Hunting Creek on December 14 and at Trinity on December 21.
Mentow will Christmas Carol in the community on Wednesday, December 17. Afterward, they will enjoy a time of fellowship and refreshments at the home of their pastor and his wife.
Norwood on Mission: Collected 330 pairs of shoes (new and good used condition) for children and adults in Guatemala; packed and assembled 120 shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.
On Saturday, December 13, 4 p.m., Palestine will be Christmas caroling to shut-ins. Palestine's children will present "Christmas County Spelling Bee" on Sunday, December 14, 7 p.m.
Timber Ridge has a good used organ and some choir music to give away. If interested, contact the church office at 540.586.9267.
Bonsack Baptist Church, Roanoke
Weeks of January 26 – May 15, 2009
Undergraduate (college) Classes
Spiritual Formations (Growing in Christlikeness)
Philosophy of Religion – Thursday, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Masters (seminary) Class
A partnership of The John Leland Center for Theological Studies and The Southwest Virginia Christian Leadership Network.
For more information, contact Gary Chapman, 777.3014 (Roanoke); toll-free: 866.223.9344; or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suck Spring returned from a Nicaragua mission trip on Oct. 25 and wanted to share how God worked in wonderful ways and how lives were changed for Jesus Christ. We joined Don and Pam Gillette of Because We Care Ministries who led us on our first-time overseas mission adventure. There were 9 team members who participated, with the youngest member being 10 years old.
After spending the first day travelling, we worshipped in the local church with powerful praise music and preaching. The next morning we were involved in scraping moldy paint off the inside of the church building and cleaning the equipment, and later in the week other workers were able to put new paint on the outside and inside. It was so humid and hot they had to wait several days for it to dry.
Each day we started with devotions and a radio broadcast where two team members would present their personal testimony, a song was sung, and Pastor Michael would give a brief Bible teaching. After that we packed up bags of clothes and children's items, loaded into the back of a pickup truck, and traveled dusty roads filled with potholes to a couple of remote villages. In some villages we were able to go into the schools and play games or do crafts with the kids, present the gospel message and a personal testimony, and just let people know that God loves them. In some villages we gathered in an all-purpose community building made of just cement and cinderblock, and while games were played with kids, the parents with babies would receive medicine from the doctor. We also did beans and rice distribution in each village. The people there are very hungry—it has been the rainy season and lots of flooding. Some of the roads we traveled still had large ponds of water standing in them and a few mud holes. One road was still not passable because of a high flowing river and mud. As we left the villages we would toss clothes, flip-flops, toys and candy out of the truck and the children would run out to collect them. In every village we presented the gospel message and there were always some who prayed to receive Christ into their lives. We wanted them to know that the food and clothes are gifts from God, not from missionaries or the North Americans, and that God cares for them.
At the end of every day we each shared our "God Moment"—something that happened that day to show us God answering a prayer or giving us strength or something meaningful that caused our faith to grow, and to write a journal page describing what we did that day. It was amazing to see how God worked in each team member and the spiritual growth that occurred in just one week.
Mrs. Lois Stevens, WMU Director
1118 Roundtree Dr., Bedford 24523
Women on Mission: Diamond Hill is leading devotionals at Oakwood Manor in December; Radford will lead them in January, February, and March. Mentow will host the December birthday party for residents of Bedford County Nursing Home; Bethlehem will host it in January.
WMU Dues ($2.00 for each member of Women on Mission and leaders of age-level organizations) are due now for the 2008-2009 year. Checks should be payable to Strawberry WMU and mailed to Mrs. Emily Morris, 2161 Penns Mill Rd., Big Island, VA 24523. Beaverdam, Big Island, Glade Creek, Hunting Creek, Mentow, Mount Olivet, Norwood, Sedalia, Shady Grove, Thaxton, and Timber Ridge have already paid.
Special Christmas programs at Thaxton:
Sunday, December 14, 10:30 a.m. Children's Christmas Musical Drama
"Angels We Have Heard" Created by Dave Clark and Jayme Thompson
Sunday, December 14, 5:30 p.m.
Christmas Cantata "Gather at the Manger"-
a Christmas Celebration for the Family of God
Created by Dennis and Nan Allen
Copyright© Strawberry Baptist Association