Years ago at my first church in Bible College, I preached a sermon entitled: “Christmas without Christ.” It was an unusual Christmas sermon because most pastors preach on the Coming of the Messiah, the gift of salvation or even the place where Jesus was born. However, that Sunday I preached “what if” Christ had not come. I gave the congregation a litany of implications of Christmas without Christ: no beautiful Christmas carols, no Christmas tree, no presents under the tree, no Christmas shopping, no family gathered together to celebrate the joy of the season or days off work. Then, I drilled down a little deeper. There would be no forgiveness of sin, no redemption, no joy of eternal life, no peace with God, no hope of seeing loved ones again, and no presence of God in our lives. Then, I read the last words in the Old Testament, “else I come and strike the land with total destruction” (Malachi 4:6). Yeah, that is a sobering thought, isn’t it? I left the congregation stunned with those words and turned out every light in the sanctuary. We were in total darkness. You could have heard a pin drop. Then, I had one of the ushers turn the lights back on. Christmas without Christ isn’t pretty, is it? Thankfully, Christ did come and die on the cross for the sins of the world. We do have forgiveness, redemption, renewal with God and the hope of heaven in our hearts! Praise be to God in the highest for sending Jesus into our dark and dying world! So, while you’re shopping, singing and enjoying the Christmas season – remember, Christmas is about Christ from start to finish!
May the Lord who blessed us this Christmas season, bless your hearts with the peace of His presence!
For everyone who shops with Amazon, we now have an easy way for you to donate back to our church with eligible purchases! There is no added cost or price differences to use Amazon Smile over the normal Amazon site, just a different URL. Amazon will donate a percentage of each eligible item you purchase back to our Church when you shop through their site (Smile.amazon.com). Eligible items will show that they are Smile eligible when viewing on Amazon, look for something like this to indicate the item is eligible!
If you are purchasing from your phone, be sure to use your web browser and go to the Amazon Smile site as using the Amazon app will not qualify for a donation. You can use this link to take you to the Smile site to set us as your desired charity, https://smile.amazon.com/ch/37-1143272. If you already have a different charity, be sure to change it to “First Baptist Church of Tolono”. We hope you remember to use Amazon Smile for all of your Holiday shopping this year!
If you have any issues or questions, please let us know and we’ll do what we can to help!
I want to focus this week on how we carry out the work of ministry in our church. Engage: we engage God in worship and engage the lost by sharing the gospel. The primary mission of the church is worship and evangelism. Connect: we connect people to God’s Word for cultivating spiritual growth and for developing an authentic community environment. Serve: we serve in the church, our local community, and the world. So, how does Engage, Connect and Serve function on a practical level? As ministry teams meet to discuss events and make plans, the focus should be on how to include engage, connect and serve. For example, if the team is planning to have a special meal (e.g., Valentine’s Day dinner), there are numerous possibilities. The team could invite someone to speak on evangelism (love of God) or have a Bible study or request food for a local food bank. Anyone of these ideas would fit Engage, Connect or Serve. So, I would like the encourage all teams to begin thinking about how your team’s ministry plans will fit into the Engage, Connect and Serve model. Don’t be afraid to be creative! If you need help, please do not hesitate to talk to me. God Bless and thank you for serving Christ and the church!