Advent 2022: Moments of Joy

Posted December 16, 2022 by Earlene Rentz-Turner in Advent

I find it comforting to know that the angel who appeared to the shepherds might have been familiar with joy. I realize that angels are messengers, and I do hope they were able to identify with this joyful message. I also hope they were able to "feel the joy." I find it interesting that the angel began the announcement by trying to alleviate the fear of anything that might compete with the…

Advent 2022: Love Leads to Joy

Posted December 15, 2022 by Zane Spoede in Advent

There are a lot of things that bring joy into Advent. For some, it may be presents; for others, it may be seeing family. But I have learned that my biggest joy comes from growing in my relationship with God. Because the truth is we wouldn't have any of the joys of Advent, or of life, without God. Now, I know that we can sometimes try to make this too simple, when, in reality, it can be very…

Advent 2022: The Most Powerful Thing You Can Do

Posted December 14, 2022 by Mel Musgrove in Advent

"Stay Gentle" by Brandi Carlile isn't found on any religious chart, but it is undoubtedly spiritual. I like to think that Mary sang a verse like this to Jesus as she raised Him in a world that was quick to harden His heart and His hands. Perhaps this was in the echoes of great joy that was to be for all the people. Mary must have known all too well that her Son would go through life…

Advent 2022: Joy Incarnate

Posted December 13, 2022 by Michael Raimer-Goodman in Advent

International Women's Day, March 8, 2022. Meru County, Kenya. We didn't know how many women would show up. We had never planned an event like this—where we invited women from 25 villages spanning more than half the size of Harris County. These women, part of Sodzo International's "Come Together to Belong" program, gathered with 8,000 other women weekly nearby their homes. This was different.…

Monday Over Coffee: "Absence"

Posted December 12, 2022 by Greg Funderburk in Monday Over Coffee

"Patricia Ann Funderburk lived a life of grace and cheer with the full heart of a selfless servant. She was born on October 8, 1935 in Hominy, Oklahoma, and passed away peacefully at home with her family on December 8, 2013." That's how I began my mother's obituary when I undertook to write it nine years ago this past week. May I share a little more:

Advent 2022: The Joy of the Journey

Posted December 12, 2022 by Greta Buehrle in Advent

Have you ever considered which character you would be in the Nativity story? I'd want to be part of the Magi. You see, I love to travel. If I had my way, most of my days would be spent trekking the globe. The only thing better than traveling might be planning the trip itself. There's scientific evidence to back up this pre-trip felicity. A 2014 Cornell University study proved that the…

Advent 2022: Third Sunday of Advent, Joy Fulfilled!

Posted December 11, 2022 by Greg Funderburk in Advent

I learned a great deal via Schoolhouse Rock, that series of brief three-minute animated shows utilized by ABC to—with a combination of catchy tunes and clever lyrics—smuggle some elementary education in grammar, civics, history, and math into young cartoon-addled minds on Saturday mornings in the 1970s. They were wildly successful. "I'm Just a Bill on Capitol Hill" was how a generation of kids…

Advent 2022: Reflect on Hope

Posted December 10, 2022 by SMBC in Advent

Wish lists are very popular this time of year. Letters to Santa, Amazon wish lists, and last-minute text messages from the mall are filled with things we desire. On the radio, people dream of getting a White Christmas, two front teeth, and hippopotamuses. There's nothing wrong with wishing. But as people who have placed our faith in Christ, we have something better than wishes. We have Hope.…

Advent 2022: Ready to Ride

Posted December 9, 2022 by Mary Stedham in Advent

It was an extremely cold morning, even by West Texas standards, but the weather didn't deter our elated five-year-old son Nathan for a moment. He bundled up (as he was told he must) and out into the yard he went. Santa had left him the big-boy bike he had hoped for, and he was ready to ride! Now this is the same youngster who had just a few months earlier passed me as I arrived home one…

Advent 2022: Hope, An Anchor for the Soul

Posted December 8, 2022 by Jana and Kelly Bryant in Advent

Movie fans may remember when the first Star Wars movie was released in 1977. If you saw it then, it was quite the epic story. Fewer may remember though when it was rereleased in 1981, we learned it wasn't just the beginning, but the middle of the story of the Jedi warriors, Luke Skywalker, and The Force. The movie was retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Advent 2022: Be Hopeful

Posted December 7, 2022 by Isabella Alas in Advent

When my parents got divorced, I found myself constantly asking why this was happening to me. My world was collapsing, and I felt helpless knowing there was nothing I could do. At the time, I had not joined South Main and I wasn't attending church regularly. I lost sight in my faith, not because I was angry with God, but because I just wasn't connected. Although I hoped things could be…

Advent 2022: The Promise of Hope in the Lord

Posted December 6, 2022 by Ethan Gwaltney in Advent

We've done more waiting than usual the past few years in our house. Maybe you can relate. We've waited on some good and beautiful things, like the newborns in our Sunday School class who will be celebrating their first Christmas this year. And we've waited on some very hard seasons to pass when we've lost close loved ones. Waiting can be brutal.

Monday Over Coffee: "What's 'New'?"

Posted December 5, 2022 by Greg Funderburk in Monday Over Coffee

I was about fourteen when I decided I had to have a new bike. I"d always had one of those nubby-tired mountain bikes for roaming around with friends along the dirt trails in the woods near our home, but a terrific movie about bicycle racing called Breaking Away had just come out, and inspired, what I really wanted now was a road bike. I began to save up my lawn-mowing money and soon made my…

Advent 2022: Saved You a Seat

Posted December 5, 2022 by Mary Campbell in Advent

I made the decision to join South Main in a Jewish deli. Like so many of us, I was initially drawn to South Main for a plethora of reasons: the inspiring and theologically rich sermons, the unforgettable music, the breathtaking sanctuary, and so forth. Every time I visited, I would discover a new reason to come back.

Advent 2022: Second Sunday of Advent, An Image of Hope

Posted December 4, 2022 by Amy Brown in Advent

We use the word "hope" all of the time. We hope someone has a good day, we hope something works out, we hope for the best. This little word plays a big role in our communication with each other. I've heard it many times this year in relation to my cancer diagnosis and treatments, with well wishes and prayers for good days and prognosis. Hope holds the expectations and desires that motivate and…

Advent 2022: Reflect on Peace

Posted December 3, 2022 by SMBC in Advent

The Advent season has arrived, and decorations are up across town. If you are busy trimming your tree, you are not alone. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there are approximately 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees sold in the U.S. each year. Tradition holds that Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer, began the tradition of decorating with lighted trees in the 16th…

Advent 2022: Thin Places

Posted December 2, 2022 by Rachel and Zach Graves in Advent

The end of a long run. Returning home after a trip. A job well done. A quiet room. Watching our dogs as they sleep. Relaxing on the beach. Standing on the summit of a mountain. These are glimpses of peace fulfilled in our lives. What is peace for you? Time away from people? Time with people? Deep breaths? A person? A place? An event? Maybe these moments of peace for all of us in our human…

Advent 2022: Just Come, Don't Chase

Posted December 1, 2022 by Charis Smith in Advent

I'm a list maker, a skill to be desired except at Christmas. How early do you start and at what point are you satisfied? A friend and I used to giggle in choir as we practiced "We'll Deck the Halls with Holly Bright" and checked what cards were addressed, how many cookies were made, and gatherings created and attended. The biggest hope seemed to be to survive to the end. Joy came in bursts as…

Advent 2022: Our Boo-Boos Change Over Time

Posted November 30, 2022 by Gordon Musgrove in Advent

I remember as a child getting lots of cuts and scrapes, being the youngest of three boys and always up to something. Whenever I would come inside to get them taken care of by my mom, she would comfort me. "Here, lay your hand here on the counter. Let's put some monkey blood (Mercurochrome) on it to make it better." Then she would put a Band-Aid on it and send me off to play again.

Advent 2022: Where We Find Our Enduring Peace

Posted November 29, 2022 by Robert Jeffries in Advent

Peace can be a hard thing to hold on to. I know it was for me. We don't have to look far to know why. Social media and television keep us connected to a 24-hour news cycle of polarizing politics, social unrest, economic woes, reports of war, and the devastation of natural disasters. Add that to the struggles we have in our personal lives—illnesses, school worries, employment uncertainty, and…