FBC Macon

Nurture. Love. Serve. ALL.

We’re proud of our Baptist history and heritage, but we’re also proud of our diversity. At First Baptist you will find a group of people coming from a variety of different church backgrounds and denominations who have found a home at the “top of Poplar.” And while our congregation comes from all over middle Georgia, we are a downtown church and see it is our mission to be the presence of Christ to our InTown and College Hill communities here in Macon.

What We Need Is Here

From time to time in years past in a place of a typical sermon, I’ve given what we’ve called, somewhat tongue in cheek, a “State of the Church Address.”Current partisan politics aside, I won’t do that this year in a sermon, but I do want to update you on a few things left over from this past year and look ahead to the months to come.

Much of our conversation over the fourth quarter of last year had to do with financial stewardship. At the start of October, barring historically strong giving to close the year, we were on a course to finish a good bit behind in our expenses. Well, as I hope you’ve seen by now, we did in fact have historically strong giving to close the year and finished with a surplus of around $24,000. 

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Sacred Space

I often play music in my office while working; preferably mellow songs with non distracting lyrics help me focus on my work. I tried a new playlist last week. It was a good choice until the lyrics of a song stood out to me, came to the surface, got ahold of me. And so the line (and title of the song) got stuck in my head- “No one knows me like the piano in my mother’s home”.

I am a firm believer in the sacredness of spaces- moments and places that hold powerful memories or meaningful experiences; a moment of connection to the Divine, to the Divine in others, or within yourself. There is profound beauty in the simple, mundane, often overlooked sacred spaces that hold us, hold a piece of our soul. I think that’s why that song jumped out at me; Sampha, the artist, named and shared a sacred space, a piano. This piano was a part of his childhood, and later where he wrote music while he was home caring for his sick mother. Listeners get a glimpse of the memories it holds in his song. 

Maybe it’s what I needed, to be shaken, to be reminded to pay attention even during a seemingly uneventful and mundane day, week, or month. There are sacred spaces that we can come back to when we are searching for something, and we often do without noticing it. Spaces that know a part of our soul. Moments that free us up to find a piece of true selves. 

In a hot cup of chai. In the pavement that knows the rhythm of your tennis shoes running. In the perfect reading chair, familiar to your form. On a dance floor, free from caring who’s watching. In a quite car during a morning commute, or a car full of chatter on the way home from school. On the second branch of the perfect climbing tree. In a paintbrush. In a game. In this church- in weekly conversations with friends in the lobby, in the choir room, in a pew that has known your company for years. 

I think Jesus recognized sacred spaces too- time with a child, at a well, on a mountainside, around a table with friends, in a garden alone. And in this weeks text, at a wedding, a party too good to end early. Maybe the band was especially good, playing everyone’s favorite songs. Maybe the dance floor was packed with people letting loose and just enjoying the moment. Maybe the conversations around tables were joyful, life-giving. Maybe this celebration was so much fun, so sacred, no one wanted it to end. They needed more wine. 

Notice the sacred spaces that hold a piece of your soul, that know a little bit about who you are. Revisit them- physically or reflectively. Thank God for spaces that hold our true joys and sorrows, because it is there that God holds them too. Thank God for spaces that know who we truly are, because it is there that God reminds us who God created us to be.

Hurry

In her poem, “Hurry,” Marie Howe tells of an epiphany she had with her young daughter and the pace of their life:

We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store   

and the gas station and the green market and   

Hurry up honey, I say, hurry,   

as she runs along two or three steps behind me   

her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.   

Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?   

To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?   

Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,   

Honey I'm sorry I keep saying Hurry—   

you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.   

And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking    

back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,   

hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.

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Inescapable Light

Even the biggest and brightest stars look pretty small. 


I remember having the North Star pointed out to me as a boy scout, expecting some massive and unmistakable celestial light, and being more than a little disappointed with the little white dot among many other little white dots.

I think about this each year at Epiphany, when we tell the story of those mysterious “wise men” who have traveled all the way from the back window of our sanctuary to the chancel and found their place in the nativity scene. 


Matthew’s description of these characters is tantalizingly sparse. Tradition has attempted to fill in the gaps for us, providing names and even the notion that there were three of them. But all we really know about these shadowy travelers is that something caught their eye and they were compelled to follow it, even to great distances and at great expense. 


And it probably wasn’t anything big, this star. The stars in nativity sets are usually enormous, and if to scale would be either dangerously close to the stable or much bigger than the sun. I think it helps us to think of this mysterious star as something big, so big that we can’t miss it. But that’s not how stars are. And that’s not how Epiphany is. It’s easy to overlook even the brightest heavenly lights. 


Then I think about this past Thanksgiving when we gathered with Audrey’s family at her grandmother’s house in Metter. One night that week was especially clear and so we took all the children out to the front yard to look at the stars and the moon, full like a giant glowing saucer. Our sister-in-law had one of those apps on her phone that, if you hold it up to the sky, will point out particular stars and illuminate the different constellations in overlaid pictures. The children, I’ll admit, were more interested in a wheelbarrow they found and were carting each other around in out there in the dark. But the adults were enthralled. The sky was alive, the earth was subject to its light, and our lives seemed at the same time so small, and yet somehow illuminated.


The earlier part of the Christmas story tells us that sometimes God’s presence is revealed in choirs of angels—and thank God for those moments. The beauty of Epiphany, the culmination of the nativity story, is that at other times we find God in something small, but curiously bright. The challenge is that we won’t know if it’s really God’s presence shining forth unless we follow it.


So this is my prayer for you and for us at the start of this new together: that we would follow the small, but curious bright lights that shine before us with such regularity that too often we don’t stop to look. But even before this, that we would stop to look, and that we would find ourselves living in the glow of inescapable light.


SHD

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A Blessing for the New Year

Special thanks to my friend, Rev. Taylor Lewis Guthrie Hartman for passing along this blessing for the New Year…

This is a time of endings and of beginnings.

This is a time of reflection and resolution, of choice and of change.

This is a time to let go –

To let go of all that has bound our hearts and held us back.

Give this to God. Let go.

This is a time to hold on –

To take hold of the blessings of the past, of our dreams and best intentions.

We offer this to the future.

In the silence now, let us examine our lives. What can we let go of and leave in God’s hands? And what will we hold close and cherish and carry with us into the new year?

(A time of silence.)

Let go of your sins. Do not waste time when the year is done in guilt or self-reproach, but, trusting in the grace and mercy of God, turn from those habits of mind and vain comforts which only harm you. 

I will let go.

Let go of your worry. Do not dwell on that which you cannot change. Tomorrow has trouble enough of its own. Rejoice in the gifts of each day and every moment.

I will let go.

Let go of cynicism and despair. Do not grow hardened or unfeeling to the pain of the world. Do not lose hope. Open your eyes and open your hearts to the needs of others. Do justice. Seek peace. Befriend the stranger. Believe that God is making it to be on earth as it is in heaven.

I will let go.

Hold on to the goodness within you, to that which is of God within you, to your innocence, to your sacred worth.

I will hold on.

Hold on to all that brings you joy, to the love in your lives, to deep and edifying friendships, to fond memories, to experiences of beauty, to feelings of wonder.

I will hold on.

Hold on to the calling of God, to the claim of God on your lives, to the intention of God that your potential and your promise would serve higher purposes.

I will hold on. 

In this time of endings and beginnings, of reflection and resolution, of choice and change,

May God give me the grace to let go and the strength to hold on.

Adapted from a litany by Anthony Livolsi


SHD

The Difference of Joy

The main difference between joy and happiness, in the words of the great poet and essayist, Rainer Maria Rilke, is that, “only in joy does creation happen.” Happiness, he says, is more a “promising and interpretable pattern” of things as they already are—think a puzzle that has been put together. All is right and as it should be—happiness. But joy isn’t a pleasant rearrangement of the world as we know it. Joy is a “pure addition out of nothingness,” the gift of new pieces to the puzzle that mysteriously reveal a different picture altogether.

Joy changes things. It changes us. Even in our happiness we may be left to worry about how long it will last. But such worries are impossible in joy because just as joy cannot be fully “held,” he says, neither can it be “truly lost again.” Once we have been touched by joy, we’re never fully the same. 

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The History of Christmas

There are two major theories for how the church landed on December 25 as the date to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

The first theory is known as the “Computation Theory,” and “computes” the day of Jesus’ birth from the day he was believed to have been crucified, which was March 25. In ancient times it was believed that important figures in history lived literally “complete” lives, meaning that they would die on the same day they had been conceived. Believing that Jesus died on March 25, they thus believed this was the date in which he had been conceived, and so working forward nine months they arrived at December 25 as the date of Jesus’ birth. Simple math!

The second theory, which is perhaps more well-known, is known as the “History of Religions” theory. In this theory, December 25 was chosen because of its proximity to the pagan holiday celebrating Sol Invictus, the “Invincible Sun.” By the 4th century (around the time we first hear of Christmas), Sol, the sun god, had become the chief god of the Roman Empire.

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Waiting

In his novel Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis tells this story,

“One morning…I discovered a cocoon in the bark of a tree, just as the butterfly was making a hole in the case preparing to come out. I waited a while, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened, the butterfly started slowly crawling out and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumbled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole body to unfold them. Bending over it I tried to help it with my breath. In vain.

It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.

That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience. For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm.”

It is a tribute to the wisdom of the Christian tradition that we begin our yearly journey together in a season dedicated to waiting. 

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WEEKLY SERVICES

Sunday
Sunday School at 9:45am
Morning Worship at 11:00am

Wednesday Evening
We begin with a meal at 5:30pm. Music and missions activities are available for adults, youth, and kids. Learn More

 

CONTACT US

511 High Place
Macon, GA 31201
Directions to FBCX

Telephone: 1.478.742.6485

Email: office@fbcxmacon.org


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