PASTOR’S PEN DECEMBER By God’s Grace, we have come to the last month in the year. We thank God for His omnipresent goodness. Let us rejoice and examine the journey He has brought us through. His blessings always outweigh the challenges we have to endure. Our experiences in 2017 have challenged our confidence in the stability of the primary institutions that sustain democracy and threatened to crumble the moral decency of our nation. Contemporary politics have attacked our independent media, judicial system, and faith imperatives. Not since the Civil War has our nation been so openly divided. The greatest tragedy is the blurring of moral lines—right is made to appear wrong and wrong is made to appear right. Good people are no longer guided by the principles of decency or moral integrity, but by political expediency and racial and social prejudices. As we embrace the Advent Season, it is imperative to remember the foundation of our faith and claim the joy that is embodied in the Gift that God extends to mankind. In spite of the turbulences on the international scene (including the threat of nuclear war), the prevailing sexual harassment that causes anguish throughout the United States, and the political, social, cultural and economic challenges experienced in the Nation’s Capital, we must affirm the Good News that a Child was born to bring peace on earth. This means that we must love even as God loved. Our love must reach beyond the discord found in human greed and personal egocentrism and embrace one another as members of the same human family. Our Heavenly Father has demonstrated His love for us, “for God so loved us that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” In this Season, let us hear in our minds and hearts the angelic voices that sang, “Glory to God in the Highest, Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to All Mankind.”
GETTING READY FOR ADVENT
(The Reverend Donald Robinson, Deacon Bruce Roberson) The “Advent Season” begins four Sundays before Christmas. This year advent begins on Sunday, December 3, 2017 and concludes on Sunday, December 24, 2017. Advent means coming or arrival of something or someone. In this case, it’s the coming of “Jesus, The Christ, Our Lord and Savior, the one the prophets foretold would come to save God’s people from oppression and sin. “He’s coming, in fact “He’s here! Isaiah was the “First Adventist,” he proclaimed the coming of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:2-7…) “The people walking in darkness, have seen a great light, on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy. They rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest….. For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government shall be on “His” shoulders. And “He” shall be called “Wonderful,” “Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” “Prince of Peace!” Advent occurs on three levels. The first level of “His” coming is proclaimed by prophets like Isaiah, who said, “The Messiah” Jesus The Christ would come hundreds of years before “His” birth… the 2nd level of “His” coming occurs when Jesus comes back and establishes a “New City of Jerusalem” on earth in the future. The 3rd coming occurs when we allow Jesus “to come into our individual hearts” to reign and rule, as our personal Lord and Savior. The question is, “we know that Jesus is King” of the world, even King of the universe, but is “He,” the King of the municipality of you?” Participation in Advent also means, we must spiritually prepare ourselves by praying, fasting, being reflective, reading our bibles, examining ourselves, confessing our sins and having an attitude of humility. Thus, on “Christmas Day,” when we come to worship, the one who is “The King of all Kings,” and “Lord of Lords,” we’ll be clothed in the appropriate spiritual garments of holiness, humility, grace, righteousness and love. These are the garments, which are necessary and appropriate for being in the presence of “The King of All Kings”! Yes, Advent spiritually alerts us and sobers us up, as well as cautions us to evaluate, anticipate and assess how we are living. If we come to the reality that we’re not spiritually living in keeping with the will of God, we must begin to sincerely seek God’s face in prayer, while asking “HIM” to forgive us and help us to change our sin sick ways. During this year’s “Advent Season,” as disciples of Jesus Christ let us continue to read “The Word of God,” worship, tithe, pray and come to prayer meeting, serve those in need and be a witness every chance we get! Advent announces the birth of Jesus Christ who’s “the King of all Kings,” The Messiah,” “The Anointed One!” “He” is also “Emanuel, the one who is God with us!” With us in good times and with us in bad times, with us in sickness, with us in health! May God continue to bless you richly and have a very Merry Christmas and an extraordinary Happy New Year!
THE SEASON IS HERE, SO LET’S CELEBRATE JESUS (Sister Bettie McKenzie-Mabry, Chairperson and Cheryl V. Walker, Co Chair) The Outreach Ministry is happy to announce, on December 9, 2017, 9:00 a.m., we will began celebrating our 21st year serving the Foster and Neediest Kids in the DMV areas. This year we have 124 parents and children, we will share our love and gifts with. As you well know, this is the Outreach Committee’s high season. Although we give and support other ministries and families throughout the year, we labeled this our high season because this is such a fun time for all of the committee volunteers. Yes, we do have lots of fun because we get all excited about running up and down the aisles of the stores, while we’re shopping for the children. As my Co-Chair Mrs. Cheryl Walker says, “shopping for our children is the fun part.” When we receive the Wish Lists from the children, we are reminded that they are allowed to ask for three items. Depending upon the cost of the items, they sometimes receive all three. However, whatever we give to these families, the children and their parents are always very grateful and appreciative. Along with the gifts, these families are treated to a hearty breakfast. They especially love Deacon Gregory Wheeler’s one of a kind Pancakes. They all agree, Deacon Wheeler’s pancakes are the best. They are one of a kind! Again, our Girl Scouts will play host to the children, while serving breakfast and helping to give gifts. The Scouts will also make sure everyone is greeted with a smile and if they have other questions or concerns related to First Baptist Church, our Scouts are more than willing to be of assistance. We are grateful to the Girl Scouts and their Troop Leaders, especially because of their leadership, love, humility and hospitality! Last year, we presented the children with a play entitled, “GOD’s Choice” directed by Mrs. Annie F. Hawthorne. This dramatic presentation helped us to tell “The story of Christmas,” and to put the season in a 21st century context. This year, we have a different presentation for the children. We want them to know who Jesus
THE SEASON IS HERE, SO LET’S CELEBRATE JESUS really is, what Christmas is all about and what Jesus expects from us! As a result, Minister Reginald Williams and Minister Jonathan Wade are going to rightly divide the Word of God, thus explaining “the true reason for the season”. Additionally, we will have with us Chyna Holloway, Travon Toliver, Tobias Williams, Marcus Graves and Jeremiah Swayne Tillery, they will each present to the children in their own individual way, “Who Jesus is to Me and The True Meaning of Christmas.” We will also have a song by one of the Foster Families. To our First Baptist Church Family, our Friends and all the organizations of the church, the Outreach Ministry would have been a Mission Impossible had it not been for your love and financial support. For this, we would like to take the time to again say thanks to each of you for your unselfish commitment, generosity, thoughtfulness, prayers and sacrifices! To the awesome committee, God has given me to work with, there are not enough words in the dictionary to express my deep appreciation and thanks to each of you. I love you! You are the greatest group of people I have ever had the privilege of working with! You are always ready and willing to share in whatever and wherever there is a need. I Thank God for each of you, your families and your friends. In addition, we have been asked to take on a Transitional Home for Men on Park Road. We would like to also say, thanks to the Men’s Ministry for joining us in this project for Christmas. May God continue to give us the strength to do “His” will, so that we can always travel to wherever “He” leads us. Most importantly, we live by the maxim…. It is always more blessed to give than to receive, especially during this “Advent and Christmas season”. May God continue to bless you and please have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The Season of Christmas and The Joy it brings (By Brother David Powell) Dear Christian family, please mark your calendars and make plans to attend, “Let Heaven and Nature Sing” a dramatic adaption of Christmas and the challenges and circumstances we are confronted with when things are not perfect. This presentation will be held at 10:00 am worship Sunday, December 24, 2017 in the sanctuary in lieu of the regular 10:50 am service. This Special Christmas Eve service is collaboration between the First Baptist Church (FBC) music ministry and select members of the Hawthorne Players. Come join us, experience the spirit of the season, and celebrate the miraculous birth of Christ in this soul stirring holiday service. Please be sure to arrive on time, as the doors will be open only during select performance periods. May God continue to bless you, as you spiritually prepare and anticipate being in the presence of the one who is ‘’KING OF ALL KINGS” and “LORD OF ALL LORDS,” Jesus The Christ!
Finish Your Course No Matter WHAT the Obstacles ARE (The Reverend Nancy Knight and Brother Kevin Shamblee on Behalf of Christian Education) The Apostle Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy in chapter four verses seven…….. “I have finished my course.” The words of this passage and the entire second letter of Timothy has contributed great meaning to the Apostle Paul, Timothy and many readers of the past, as well as today. The letter reminds us, while we’re celebrating Christmas, we should also give thought to finishing all of our important tasks, assignments and promises. While reflecting on the importance of finishing, at times, we often get lost regarding when our other tasks are being completed, or why did we allow opportunities for success to cause them to wither away. In some instances, some of us have just quit or given up trying to finish! In many ways, we all missed some of the opportunities which were laid out for us. In fact, on some occasions we even chose to go in another direction to achieve our goals, only to find out we didn’t do any better in our change of direction! Thanks be to God, the end is not here just yet. We still have time and a few more opportunities to finish our course. One of the greatest examples of how to overcome adverse obstacles is in the biblical story of a man who trusted in the words of an angel he heard in his dream. He stayed on the course of a long travel assignment with his pregnant wife, even though he was fatigued. However, with the encouragement of his wife and God’s guidance, he endured the worse of travel accommodations. In fact, he temporarily lived with animals in an animal stable, even when it was time for his son to be born. We at First Baptist Church recognize this person; his name is Joseph, he is one of the primary persons in “The Nativity Story”! Both the charge of Paul to Timothy and the determination of Joseph in “The Nativity Story” are wonderful examples of the enduring obstacles, which can sometimes get in the way of our finishing our course. Perhaps in this season of “the Birth of Christ,” our charge is to finish the course, which is laid out in front for us. Sometimes that course may not feel like what we want it to feel like. After all, Joseph wanted to get out of this assignment at the beginning of his awkward circumstances, which involved his fiancée, Mary being found “with child,” as a result of the Holy Spirit! Some men would have quit this journey, no matter what the angel of the Lord said to them in a dream. Therefore, whether we’re in journeys to preserve our standing, journeys of saving financially for rainy days, college tuition, or retirement journeys, all journeys are as tough as Joseph’s seventy mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. What’s clear to us, no matter how you slice it, this was a tough course. Yes, there were no five star hotels awaiting Joseph and his family on his journey and surely there are no prizes right now for you and I on our journeys. For the faithful, all we have today is a charge to finish and maintain the determination to complete our assignment. Joseph trusted in the Lord and thereby finished the task of taking his pregnant wife on a seventy mile journey to safety. He finished his course. At First Baptist Church, so can we. Merry Christmas.
“YOUTH NEwS, YOU CAN USE”
(By Sister Kareema Clark-Robinson and Minister Reginald Williams) Forgiving Yourself and Others …for His name’s sake your sins were forgiven” (1 John 2:12). We were flying to a conference. I was in the middle seat – certainly not my choice – but my husband and I have an agreement that if a woman is sitting by the window, I sit in the middle, if a man is in the seat by the window, Marvin sits in the middle. Barely was I settled, when I discerned that the young woman sitting next to me was very sad and deep in thought. Making conversation, I asked her where she was from, where she was going and what she did for a living. She was a student and had been attending a university in Poland – the homeland of her father. Then she told me sadly that her father had died. She had chosen to attend college in Poland against her father’s wishes and as a result their relationship had been strained. They hadn’t forgiven each other when he died. She seemed so sad and I recognized a deeper issue. I asked her if she had forgiven herself for not complying with her father’s wishes. She answered that she couldn’t forgive herself and felt so guilty. Slowly, I began to tell her about God’s love and forgiveness. Because of Christ’s death on the cross, her sins were forgiven and guilt was now removed. I encouraged her to trust in God’s forgiveness because God had forgiven her, therefore she could forgive herself (no matter how awful she thought she had been). As I spoke, I prayed and my husband prayed. I told her about something I had done as a teenager for which I had felt guilty about for many years. How I had come to the place where I was faced with the choice of forgiving myself because Christ had already forgiven me or I could continue feeling guilty the rest of my life. I had chosen to forgive myself. The light in her eyes came on. She smiled and began to understand she was totally forgiven and could forgive herself. Yes, she could be free and happy. “God meant for you to sit with me today,” she told me at the end of the flight. How about you? Is there something in your life for which you feel guilty? You don’t need to. Simply accept God’s love and forgiveness today! The Real Meaning of Christmas Recently we asked a group of young people some questions to see how they felt about Christmas and what it means to them. Here’s what the youth had to say about these three questions: 1. What does Christmas mean to me? 2. What if there was no decorated tree, no presents under them and no decorations? 3. What does Santa have to do with Christmas?
“YOUTH NEwS, YOU CAN USE” (CONT’d) Danny Anani, 18 1. Christmas is a time of fellowship with family and friends and an understanding that our King Jesus Christ was born to save us from our sins. 2. It doesn’t matter about decorations, as long as you know in your heart that being with your family is what it’s about. 3. He is supposed to be just a figure of joy, although we know he’s not real. I was about 12 when I saw my older sister putting gifts under the tree, so I knew then there was no real Santa. Samson Wheeler, 17 1. It’s a time to gather around to give thanksgiving and celebrate the birth of Christ. 2. Christmas is not about gifts, they’re materialistic and without them the reason remains the same. You can still have fun just being around the family. For me talking about Jesus can bring joy even though there may not be any pageantry we can still celebrate His birth. 3. All I know is he is not real and it only means something to little kids who believe in him. Trayvon Toliver, age 11 1. A celebration for when Jesus was born. 2. As long as the world is not ending we don’t need those things. For me, Christmas is everyday because I have a lot of things to be thankful for, like food and clothes and somewhere to live. 3. He’s fake and has nothing to do with Christmas. In fact what he does might be against the law, ie…going into someone’s house through the chimney? Zion Braxton, 13 1. Spending time with family and celebrating the birth of Jesus and exchanging gifts. 2. Don’t need them as long as your spending time with family. They’re just extra props. 3. I actually don’t know what Santa has to do with Christmas. I just know that my parents work hard to provide gifts for us on Christmas and throughout the year. Neveah Braxton, 9 1. God’s birthday.
2. It’s still God’s birthday 3. He’s just a helper. Tobias Williams Robinson, 12 1. Christmas is a celebration for the birth of Jesus. 2. I’d be fine with that. 3. I don’t believe in Santa.
“YOUTH NEwS, YOU CAN USE” (CONT’d) Charles Brooks, 15 1. It’s a time of giving and praising the Lord to celebrate Jesus Christ. 2. I would feel the same, those things have nothing to do with Christmas. 3. Santa also has nothing to do with Christmas. People that don’t believe in Jesus came up with that imaginary figure. Kaiya Best, 12 1. It’s a time to celebrate with our friends and family. 2. Having the Christmas Spirit and celebrating the birth of Christ. Because its still a time to be thankful. 3. He’s the one who brings gifts to those who believe that he is real, although he is not. It’s obvious from these questions that celebrate Christmas and they know celebration of the day. Praise God for have made sure that our youth know nothing to do with material things.
our the the the
young people are well aware of the reason we gifts and presents are just a bonus to the parents and our Sunday School teachers who real reason for the season. They know it has
Congratulations to FBC member Jahmal Banks, the son of Kristie Gorham, for recently being highlighted in an article on the “ultimaterecruit.com” website. The article refers to Jahmal as “the brightest spot” on the Bishop O’Connell High School football team, where he has excelled as a featured receiver. According to the article, “at 6’3” Jahmal has been displaying a combination of foot speed and leaping ability that has allowed him to break away into the opponent’s secondary.” Although Jahmal still has a nearly two years left to play in high school, he is already being recruited to play football by Duke, Notre Dame, UNC, N.C. State, East Carolina, Louisville and many others. In addition, Jahmal is being touted as “a force to be reckoned with” as a member of the O’Connell Knights’ basketball team. He is drawing major college interest in him on the hoop side as well. Jahmal is described as a “great kid who is a slasher who finishes well around the rim.” Jahmal has been an active member of FBC since birth and despite his hectic schedule, still finds time to serve as a youth usher. When you see him, let him know how proud we are of him. To read the complete article, copy and paste the below link: http:// www.ultimaterecruit.com/nova-football/jahmal-banks-emergingbishop-oconnell/ Our Youth Ministry will host a Christmas Mosaic on Saturday, December 23, 2017 at 12:30 pm. This event will feature music, dance, art, poetry and skits performed by our own youth. Please make plans to join us as we come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
“THE INVISIBLE wORKFORCE” (Sister Brenda “BJ” Washington) During a recent visit to the doctor, I happened to read an article by a writer named Lisa Marshall from the WebMD magazine. What caught my eye was this unusual statement,….. “A volunteer army of 44 million Americans cares for aging or ill loved ones each day, saving the U.S. economy $470 billion in health care costs. But who cares for the caregivers? As I read the article, I began to remember persons I cared for or helped out and how my care for them affected my life. This article motivated me to begin to see how my life was impacted and how I neglected my health, joys, financial opportunities, etc., as I was caring for others. Did you know Caregivers are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and heart disease than non-caregivers. Incidentally, they also have higher levels of stress, which weakens their immune systems, making them more vulnerable to illness. Six in ten Caregivers say they exercise less and have irregular eating habits since they have become caregivers. Some studies show, three-quarters have neglected going to the doctor and taking care of themselves when they should have. Moreover, four in ten say care giving has put an enormous financial strain on themselves and their families. According to a 2015 AARP report, this invisible workforce saves the U.S. economy a staggering $470 billion in health care costs. Let me simplify this with some familiar statistics. Twenty two percent of high school students dropout out of school to care for family members; 33 percent of working female caregivers have decreased their work hours to care for a loved one’s. Another twenty two percent took a leave of absence; 16 percent have quit their jobs; while 40 to 70 percent of these caregivers say they are overwhelmed and as a result suffer from depression. Statistics show, persons caring for someone with dementia are most likely to become depressed. Again, the question is asked, “But who cares for the caregivers.” I know everyone’s story is different and what may work for me may not work for others. However, these statistics clearly communicate to us, we must take the time to be more concerned about the health and well being of caregivers! Perhaps one of the things we can do today is to just bring some attention and true concern for those persons giving care to others! We need to let them know, they are not alone! I believe one of the answers to our question today, “who will care for the caregivers” is, God and God’s caring people will take care of caregivers! OTHER RESOURCES: Area Agencies on Aging (www.eldercare.org); AARP –Comprehensive Site With Tips and a Local Resource Guide (WWW.AARIP.ORG/CAREGIVING); Family Caregiver Alliance: Nonprofit advocacy group with e-newsletter and online support groups (www.caregiver.org); American Association of Caregiving Youth: Florida-based nonprofit dedicated to serving caregivers ages 18 and under; (www.aacy.org); Daughters in the Workplace; sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care. Offers advice or working caregivers and their employers. (caregiverstress.com) and Alzheimer’s Disease & Related Dementia Family Support Program: Free, state-funded program providing support for New York City caregivers of people with dementia. (www.nyulangone.org); and First Baptist Church Caregiver’s Ministry (202-541-5000).
CHURCH SENIORS ARE CORDIALLY INVITED
TO PARTICIPATE IN THE FBC SENIOR CENTER’S ANNUAL CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION DATE:
DECEMBER 21, 2017
10:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M.
PLACE: FBC SENIOR CENTER
FOOD, FUN AND FELLOWSHIP
Part of the District’s Senior Service Network supported by the Office on Aging Page 9
~December 2017 EVENTS~ Sunday, December 3, 2017
Holy Communion Services— (7:50 A.M. & 10:50 A.M) *****
Saturday, December 9, 2017 Outreach Ministry Fellowship—(9:00 A.M.)
“SO LET’S CELEBRATE JESUS” *****
Sunday, December 10, 2017 Youth Sunday—(10:50 A.M.) *****
Sunday, December 17, 2017 MEN’S EMpHASIS SUNdAY *****
Saturday, December 23, 2017 Youth experience=(12:30) “CHRISTMAS MOSAIC” *****
Sunday, December 24, 2017 Christmas EVE Service—(10:00 A.M.)-ONE SERVICE ONLY *****
Sunday, December 31, 2017 NEW YEAR EVE Service—(10:00 A.M.)-one service only Watch Night Service - (10:00 P.M.) First Baptist Church 712 Randolph Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20011 (202) 541-5000 ~ Fax: (202) 291-2565~Email: email@example.com
December 2017 Newsletter