2014 Advent at Southland

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Christmas Eve Services at Southland

December 24th, 5:30pm (Nursery provided) & 7:00pm (No Nursery)

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Advent 2014 - Day 22

“CHRISTMAS MAGIC”
Zane Scott

“‘Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!  How awful!’ said Lucy.” 
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (1950)
   
Christmas has always held a special place in my heart.  I can still remember decorating the tree, helping to bake cookies, and picking out gifts.  This was my annual routine, until the year that I turned ten and everything changed.

It all started the day that Mother sat us down and told us that we would be getting a brother.  I was overcome with the joy of knowing that I would have another boy in the house, one that I could teach and train to do my bidding.  The day finally came when my parents packed us up and drove to San Angelo.  I remember Mother waking me up on that December morning and asking if I was ready to meet my new brother.  My brother’s birthday was amazing:  snow was on the ground, houses were decorated, and there was “magic” in the air.  Magic that only a new baby can bring to the world.

Fast-forward twenty years, and you will find me decorating the tree, baking cookies, and picking out gifts.  This had again become my annual routine, until the year that I turned thirty and then, everything changed again.  This time, my wife and I sat our daughter down and told her that she would be getting a sister.  My daughter was overcome with the joy of knowing that she would have another girl in the house, one that she could teach and train to do her bidding.

The day came when we packed my daughter’s belongings and dropped her off to spend the night with my mother.  My second daughter’s birthday was amazing as well, but in a way only a father could know.

Both of these babies had a huge impact on my life, yet there is one baby whose birth truly changed the world forever, the birth of Jesus. I’m reminded of a song “How Many Kings”, by Down Here:

“A child in a manger
Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in his mothers shawl
Just a child
Is this who we've waited for?”

“Cause how many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?”

I have a close friend who often says, “I've lived a good life, but if this is all there was to it, I would be very disappointed.”  Even though we have things in our lives that excite us, it is nothing compared to knowing Jesus.

Paul put it this way, “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.”  In other words, winter without Christmas would be nothing more than a cold dreary time of year, but with Christ’s birth it can truly be magical!


Advent 2014 - Day 21

“NEW CHRISTMAS MEMORIES”
JC Delgado

Growing up in a less than perfect home brought its share of tears and ugly scenes during Christmas time. Our parents’ divorce replaced the tears and sadness with unhappiness from the separation. Later on I would find Jesus through the ministry of a former High School classmate. Nevertheless, the certainty of salvation would not prevent the drama that would take place around the season. The start of our adult lives would be accompanied by questions of loyalty and pretentions of a past half filled with fictitious happy memories.

As the dawn of the my Christian life, all my newfound faith could not help me wish there would not be a Christmas season. The celebration was not Biblical; hence I had no obligation to accept it. The slowdown in the business cycle made me wish it did not exist at all. I just had to bear with it with respect and kindness, yet had no mandate to enjoy it.

And that was how I entered marriage.

Happy to please my spouse I faithfully went through the motions. She learned, of course, of my inner thoughts and wished I could enjoy the entire celebration. Later we had children and I became more concerned with a change in attitude as I was cognizant of the happiness my Christian brothers and sisters enjoyed, and I wanted that for our children.

Then, one December, the Lord spoke to me through a TV insurance commercial. It showed a family that had lost everything in their home; even the family pictures had been destroyed! Then the insurance adjustor showed up while a background voice announced: “We cannot help you with the old memories, yet we can help you build new ones”, which implied that in their future new home they would enjoy many more occasions together!

At that moment, the Word of God became clearer. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV): “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” And I realized that, by the Grace of God, it did not matter what Christmas season might have been like in the past, He gave me His full support to make future Christmas enjoyable, memorable, all the old memories should simply fade away and start being replaced with new ones. Our own family memories would be new and it was just up to us to create them, regardless of the past.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Advent 2014 - Day 20

“FAMILY LOVE”
Diana Banks

Family LOVE, what can that mean?  I learned a lot about these words in the weeks before and then at my son’s wedding!

As I think back over the year’s events this Christmas season, I remember one of the happiest times in my life … my son, Jeremiah Banks, got MARRIED!!!  My son married a wonderful young lady named Kassie!  As I was thinking through the memories of this special time, I remembered how weddings are a wonderful time to see the LOVE of a family unit, even a divorced family unit like mine.  My ex-husband, his wife, all of our family members, and myself worked together to make Jeremiah’s wedding become just what Kassie and Jeremiah had dreamed it would be.  As we worked together we showed LOVE for each other and our entire family unit.  I also saw the LOVE of a family unit when Michael, Jacob, and Samuel all were standing together for their brother as grooms in the wedding party.

GOD can take the brokenness of divorce and bring family members together in LOVE.  No one else can take credit for this LOVE but GOD.  He helped us though the years to work together in LOVE for our children to keep the family unit together.  This was evident as we worked together to organize, to get things we needed done for the wedding, to decorate, to visit with each other, and to LOVE on Jeremiah and Kassie!

I remember what LOVE is when I read in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:  “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  LOVE NEVER FAILS!”

At Christmas, I feel so blessed to have my daughter-in-law join our family unit!  The unit that puts the past behind and works together for an amazing LOVING future!!  If you find yourself in a family unit like mine, may the LOVE of Christ bring you together in a family unit that LOVES one another, leaving past differences and situations behind and pressing on for a wonderful LOVING future!



Advent 2014 - Day 19

“PATAPAN AND REJOICE!”
Brandon Archer

My favorite Christmas carol is one most people don't know:  "Patapan."  I only know the song because I play it in an all brass ensemble (Ice House Brass) every year, but everyone really enjoys when we play it.  We even have a guy who comes to a lot of our concerts and will yell out "Patapan!" until we finally play it for him.

I could make up some high-brow musical or philosophical reason for liking the song, but let's be honest … I like it because it's fast, it's brassy, and it's loud.  It's an exciting song!

It can't be a coincidence that excitement is exactly what "Patapan" is about.  It is a song about shepherds grabbing flutes and drums - the closest instruments they can find - to go and celebrate the birth of Jesus!

There are many variations of the lyrics, but here are a few great lines:

"When we hear the fife and drum,
Christmas should be frolicsome"

"God and man became today,
More in tune than fife and drum,
So be merry while you play"

"Man and God agree
About the flute and the little drum…
To the sound of these instruments
Tu-re-lu-re-lu, pat-a-pat-a-pan,
To the sound of these instruments
Sing!  Dance!  Jump around!"

What a perfect picture of the Advent Season.  Our Lord has come!  And that is very exciting!  Let us all share our excitement and joy in every way we know how, whether that means banging the nearest drum, dancing and jumping around, praising in song (either in tune or out of it!), or making some other joyful noise!

"Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!" - Psalm 98:4

Advent 2014 - Day 18

“LOVE”
Scott Blanton

My Sunday school class decided this year’s theme would be love.  So our lessons were centered on what the Bible had to say about love.  We delved into Gods love, Jesus’ love, Old and New Testament love, as well as Paul’s and David’s love.  What we realized and continue to discover is that Love is elusive to grasp.   

God in the Old Testament loves sternly and unconditionally.  How many times do the Hebrews have to wander from Him and lose His love?  How many Prophets does He have to send?  God’s own Son came and was rejected, and yet He still loved.  Paul and Peter loved until they could not give anything else except their lives.  So the question we asked ourselves is how do we love like that, and are we capable?  

The world this year, as most years, seems to be in rapid decline.  Wars and rumors of wars are all around.  Godlessness abounds.  Religious freedoms are being suppressed.  Christians are being threatened around the world as never before.  So what is our response?     

Love.   

We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves.   Love our enemies.  Love in a way we are incapable of, except through the Holy Spirit.  So this Christmas season, commit yourself to love:  be patient, be kind, do not envy or be rude.  Rejoice in the truth; bear all things; believe all things; hope all things, and endure all things.  Love never fails; that is why God is Love.  God so loved then world that He gave His only Son.  So go forth and Love.