The journey from Advent to Christmas is one of my favorite seasons of the year. For centuries, Christians have engaged this season with both contemplation and celebration. The deeper I venture into this journey, the more I discover this to be a multi-faceted season of opportunity.
‘Tis the season for beautiful music. During this season we revel in hearing both the classical and contemporary songs of the seasons from the voices of our children, youth and adults. The accompaniment and orchestration resound from a broad range of instruments and traditions.
‘Tis the season for generous giving. During these first few days of Advent, I have personally witnessed the joyful generosity of individuals, Sunday school classes and mission groups who have brought gifts for “adopted” families, homeless persons and disadvantaged children. Your faithful and generous offerings during December will enable your church to continue to support a comprehensive program of mission and ministry.
‘Tis the season to support missions. Our Baptist heritage and our church tradition remind us to be fervently prayerful for missionaries, and exceptionally generous in our mission offerings during this season of the year. Your holiday mission offering provides livelihood and resources for our mission partners for the coming year.
‘Tis the season for family enrichment. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of holiday activities, I trust that you and your family can designate quality time together to enjoy a meal, attend a concert, plan a project, play a game, take a trip and engage in meaningful conversation as you grow in your love and appreciation for one another.
‘Tis the season for joyful worship. From the lighting of the Advent candles, to the singing of the carols, to the messianic prophecies and nativity stories of Holy Scripture, our worship venue during this season presents unique opportunities to warm the heart and stir the soul. As we continue to progress in our journey, we echo the invitation of the hymn writer who heralded “Come and worship, come and worship; Worship Christ the newborn King!”
Barry Howard is senior minister at Brookwood Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.
Pastor at the Wieuca Road Baptist Church in Atlanta. He also serves as a leadership coach and columnist for the Center for Healthy Churches. He and his wife, Amanda, live in Brookhaven, Georgia.