Holy Week 2014 – Devotion 5 – Barabbas

April 16, 2014

041614 barabbasThe crowd shouted to Pilate, “Give us Barabbas, not this man!”  Barabbas was a bandit.  – John 18:40

In the late 1960s, Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter wrote the lyrics to a counterculture classic, “One Tin Soldier.”  The song, which was featured in the film Billy Jack, tells the story of the Mountain People and the Valley People.  The Valley People heard a rumor that the Mountain People owned a treasure, buried beneath a stone.  They demanded the treasure from the Mountain People, who offered to share it.  The Valley People, however, decided to take the treasure by force and keep it entirely for themselves.  They conquered the Mountain People.  And so the song goes:  “Now, they stood beside the treasure, on the mountain dark and red.  Turned the stone and looked beneath it.  ‘Peace on earth,’ was all it said.”

Pontius Pilate gave the Jewish people a choice between Jesus and Barabbas.  They chose Barabbas.  Barabbas was not a common thief.  He was a revolutionary — likely a Zealot who had participated in terrorist activity against the Romans.  (Mark 15:7).  The Jewish people chose a man of violence over a man of peace.

In modern times, our choice may not necessarily be as stark as the difference between violence or peace.  But even so, modern society poses unique challenges; and those challenges often beg the question, “How do we respond when things do not go our way?”  As imperfect humans, it is all too easy for us to choose anger over conciliation, pride over humility, retaliation over forgiveness.  Our treasure is not gold or silver:  our treasure is the peace that passes understanding.  When things do not go our way, we would do well to draw nearer to God, to be still and ask what God would want us to do, and to arise and go in peace.

Lord, help us to be instruments of your peace.  Where there is pain, let us sow comfort.  Where there is sorrow, let us sow hope.  Where there is anger, let us sow love.  Amen.

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Love Without Chocolate

February 13, 2012

By Rachel McCarty, South Main Member

It’s amazing that even though I’m living halfway across the world, South Main still feels like it’s a drive away. SMBC has been and always be my home away from home. I’m a fourth-generation church member and like my entire family, I bleed green and gold. I graduated from Baylor last May with a degree in Social Work. Immediately after graduation I was blessed with the opportunity to teach English in northern Thailand which is where I currently reside. I have spent this year becoming immersed in a wonderful culture, teaching and learning from precious Thai teenagers, and trying to grasp a better understanding of what I want my future to look like.

During this time I have discovered a deep passion in the area of International work and human trafficking which I plan to pursue as a career after graduate school. One living example of human trafficking that has recently received news coverage is that of child slaves working on cocoa plantations in West Africa. This part of Africa, specifically the Ivory Coast produces 70% of the world’s cocoa. UNICEF has estimated that 500,000 children are working in harsh conditions with little to no pay. Most receive no education and have been forcibly taken from their homes and families. Despite harvesting cocoa for up to fifteen hours a day, many have never even tasted chocolate. This is not a new issue. The Harkin-Engel Protocol or “Cocoa Protocol” called for an end to child slavery ten years ago. It is still unclear whether or not the protocol reduced child labor. Major chocolate companies like M&M/Mars, Nestle, Hershey, and Ferrero Rocher have given no proof of the changes they agreed to a decade ago.

As soon as I heard about the issue I knew I had to get involved. Some friends and I created a social movement called “Love Without Chocolate” that is beginning with a focus on the Valentine’s Day holiday. We are asking that people like you join our boycott of non-fair trade chocolate during the days when chocolate companies make a fortune. Americans alone purchase nearly sixty million pounds of chocolate during the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. Our hope is to raise awareness and get the attention of the chocolate industry that is allowing child slavery to continue.

Awareness is just the beginning step of social justice for these children, but change has to start somewhere. Please help us spread the word. Let’s demand change and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. To learn more about our movement and ways to get involved, please visit our Facebook page “Love Without Chocolate”.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” – Proverbs 31:8-9

Facebook page
Twitter
E-mail address:  lovewithoutchocolate@gmail.com

A few fair trade chocolate companies include Divine Chocolate and Equal Exchange.  Grocery stores like Whole Foods should also carry fair trade chocolate.

Thank you for your consideration to join this cause!


To God Alone be the Glory

September 6, 2011

Dear Church Family,

In the spring of 1987, while serving Columbia Baptist Church in Falls Church, Virginia, the Cokers were approached by a dedicated and enthusiastic search committee regarding the position of Minister of Music at South Main Baptist Church. Following some agonizing days of pondering and praying about what God would have us to do; we ultimately felt the call to lead this music ministry. We believed in and committed ourselves to building and maintaining a music ministry at South Main that could help the church inspire people, lead them in worship,develop fellowship, and help people find their ministry.

By early fall of 2012, I will have served actively as a Minister of Music for 50 years. I will also have served South Main for half of those 50 years. I am extremely blessed to have been able to spend a large part of my life doing what I felt God has called me to do.  Now it is time for me to pass on the baton to the next generation. Therefore, I will be retiring from the position of Minister of Music at South Main Baptist Church on June 3, 2012.

In these past 25 years with you, we have tried to honor the traditions of the past while strengthening church music for the future. We inherited a music ministry program that had been carefully and lovingly developed by those who had gone before us. That ministry had been built on the concepts of teaching children, youth, and adults how to sing, play, and lead music–using the musical varieties of “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” in worship and ministry. We believed in this ministry and focused our efforts on building and maintaining a music ministry that could help the church continue to inspire people, lead them in worship, develop fellowship, and help people find their ministry.

In more recent days here at South Main we have rightly called these: Worship, Discover, and Share. I am firmly convinced that these three ingredients must be the foundation of the music ministry as well as a part of each individual involved in the ministry.

In order to celebrate our musical past, present and future together, the ministerial staff, Music Council and I are working on a plan for the music ministry for this year. We anticipate the music year as follows:

October 30, 2011, 6:00 p.m.

The Sanctuary Choir will combine with the Houston Children’s Chorus to present John Rutter’s Mass of the Children.

December 11, 2011

Unwrapping Christmas is our theme for Advent. Unwrapping Christmas/Unwrapping Glorias: A Christmas Concert, will feature the Gloria of John Rutter (with brass, percussion and organ) and the Jazz Gloria of Houston composer Rob Landes as well as other glorious Christmas music.

Ash Wednesday Evening – February 22, 2012

A possible presentation of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Mass in G Minor (an a cappella double choir work of great beauty and historic text; it will beautifully set up the Lenten Season).

Glorious Easter –  April 8, 2012

 

June 2-3, 2012

A Joyous Musical Festival celebrating the vibrant music which is one of the hallmarks of South Main’s ongoing ministry.

Youth and children’s choirs will have significant plans for this year, with a terrific mini-tour and a full musical scheduled for youth and Bach to Broadway Jr. for children.  Let me invite you all to join with us in the music ministry to celebrate Christ through the gift of music at South Main. I hope to see many of you active in choirs, handbells, orchestra and congregational singing.

I firmly believe the years ahead are to be years of growth and vibrancy. It is my prayer that South Main continues to teach and reflect the work of Christ through the psalms, hymns and spiritual songs learned by children and adults at South Main and that the beauty and majesty of our Creator will shine through these our gifts in the indigenous worship style of South Main.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, here with you at South Main Baptist Church in Houston, and I look forward to this special year as your Minister of Music.

Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be glory),

Thomas Coker, South Main Minister of Music

 


Accepting the Call

May 26, 2011

The Conaway Family: (left to right) Sam, Carmen, Erin and Alex

To My Dear South Main Family,

Guided as we believe by the Holy Spirit through a process of listening and discernment, Carmen and Alex and Sam and I have accepted the call for me to be the next Pastor of Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco, TX. There are so many things churning within us about this decision: humble enthusiasm about this next step, plenty of trepidation about the new role and responsibilities, deep pain about being three hours away from you and about leaving this church family and my privileged position of walking with you through so many sacred spaces; but beneath the roller coaster of emotions there is an overwhelming sense of peace that this is exactly what God is calling us to do. We have been completely embraced by the people at Seventh and have felt and continue to feel their joy and excitement about our days to come.

The timing seems to be way off, I’m telling you this on the first Sunday after our pastor is gone on a much deserved and now I think very timely sabbatical. Steve has been a part of this journey the entire way through. He and I have talked this to death, prayed about it a lot, and he has been a wonderful encourager and given me his blessing at every step along the way. We have worked so closely together these past eight years and have provided real balance to one another-it’s hard for me to imagine doing ministry without him and I know I will stagger around some while I get my bearings as we both learn to do this in different places. All along we have talked with you about our Sabbatical plan, and that will not change-we still have a strong pastoral team in place to serve with you through Steve’s time away, and that will include me for most of that journey. Our last Sunday here will be July 17th, so we have plenty of time to walk this season of transition in our journey in ministry together.

And I want you to hear me say, in no way could I go there if I had not been here.

This is the place where I learned so much of what I know about being a minister;

This is the place where nine years ago, you took a chance and called a dirt salesman to help out in the college ministry and our love affair began;

This is the place where we learned what it means to serve a church family with all that we are and to be loved in return in ways we could not have imagined;

This is the place where we began the wonderful and terrifying journey of parenthood and you walked this path with us every step of the way;

This is the place where I learned what it is to be a part of a team in ministry and to see the wonder of God using our different gifts and talents to do far more with us together than we could ever do apart;

This is the place where my missional heart has exploded trying to keep up with how fast and how far God’s love is flowing out to our neighbors here and around the world;

This is the place where my heart has heard your stories and held them close-in agony and celebration you have allowed me to sit with you and pray with you and hear you and I will forever be blessed because of that great privilege;

This is the place I will always cherish and you will be a part of us wherever we go. Thank you, thank you, thank you from our hearts that are overflowing with your blessing and your love.

Grace & Truth,

Erin, Carmen, Alex & Sam Conaway


Y’All Come Hear Kate Campbell, OK?

May 9, 2011

Kate Campbell in Concert at South Main

By David and Mary Corban – David serves as the chair of deacons and Mary has prepared thousands of meals for our youth and church family. They are parents to Andrew and Ethan and members of the Graceland Sunday School Community.

You need to come hear Kate Campbell when she performs at South Main’s Youth Center on Saturday evening, May 14. Previous notices of this event have touted Kate’s gifts as a musician and songwriter, and folks in the music business obviously regard Kate as a thoughtful (sometimes even side-slapping) lyricist – else she would not have had guest artists on her most recent CD such as John Prine, Nanci Griffith, and Spooner Oldham. Her music is rooted in traditional Southern hymns, the blues, soul, R&B, country, and folk music, and she tours extensively across America and overseas in support of her CDs, including an upcoming tour to Ireland.

We would add that Kate conveys a real sense of time and place in her music. If you were a child in the South during the 1960’s, her songs will speak to you. When she sings the humorous “Funeral Food” or “Jesus and Tomatoes Coming Soon,” she captures the scene so well because you’ve been there — you’ve eaten the food, shared the laughter, and stopped at the roadside produce stands with hand-lettered signs. Other songs tell stories that touch the heart in a more serious vein, like “Visions of Plenty,” which vividly portrays a family’s desire to overcome poverty in the rural South.

But more importantly, we need to point out that Kate is the grand-daughter of Kathryn Henry (Kathryn and David’s mother were life-long best friends, and yes, that’s Kathryn on the cover of Kate’s CD, Moon Pie Dreams); the daughter of a Baptist minister, Jimmy Henry, who grew up with David’s brother, Bruce; and the wife of another fine fellow, Stan Campbell, who formerly pastored the Corban family’s church in Orlinda, Tennessee. Now if you can follow all those relational connections, then you must be a Southerner, either by birth or inclination; well acquainted with fried chicken and garden-grown tomatoes; and generally gifted with a sense of humor and an appreciation of music, history, literature, and the storytelling arts.

In other words, you are a Kate Campbell fan just waiting to blossom.

So come join the Corbans and the rest of the South Main family when Kate Campbell performs in the Youth Center on Saturday, May 14 at 7 pm. Tickets are available here. (Alternatively, David says to just give him some money and he’ll see what we can do.) Oh, and bring your friends, too!

South Main Baptist Church – The Inner Loop Church


Sharing the Promise: The Maundy of Maundy Thursday

April 21, 2011

By Dr. Linda Brupbacher, an education professor at Houston Baptist University as well as a Bible study teacher and a newly ordained deacon at South Main Baptist Church. Linda is Hart’s wife, Lee and Lori’s mom, Lauren and Raymond’s mother-in-law and Will’s grandmother.

Most of us associate Thursday of Holy Week with the Lord’s Supper and Garden of Gethsemane events.  However, neither of these is the reason for the “Maundy” label.  “Maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the Latin phrase that is translated  “A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).   After Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He issued this new command (mandatum).

Walking dusty roads in sandals often resulted in really dirty feet.  The custom was to provide foot washing water and towels just inside the entryway to a home. If slaves were available, the slave with the very lowest status was assigned the foot-washing task.  Even among slaves, this was considered a lowly, undesirable chore.  However, that didn’t stop Jesus from washing the disciples’ feet.

Evidently the disciples didn’t wash their own feet as they entered the upper room–so sometime early that evening Jesus knelt and washed their feet.  Scripture offers no indication of prior conversation about the need for clean feet or discussion about who would or should do the foot washing.  Jesus simply noticed the need and acted to meet it.  It was an act of humility and service.  And, it clearly illustrated the new commandment:  love each other as I have loved you.

This commandment is so consistent with Jesus’ life and with His other teachings that its label as “new” seems somewhat surprising.  However, its content isn’t surprising at all.  Jesus consistently advocated and modeled loving people.

Loving one another is one of those things that sounds simple– but isn’t always easy.  Jesus cared, He noticed, and He acted—and we are expected to do likewise.  How to actually do this is one of the challenges of Maundy Thursday and of everyday as we attempt to more deeply share the promise.  Choosing whether or not to do this isn’t really presented as an option.

Heavenly Father,

Help us follow Jesus’ model of humility and service—of truly loving others.  Erase any self-centeredness, pride or fear that might keep us from doing this.  Help us notice the needs of others and act to help meet those needs.  Please give us humble, compassionate, servant hearts that compel us to live this commandment.   Amen.


What could you learn in Bible Study?

March 8, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the wise Michelangelo said, “I am STILL learning.”  No matter who you are, you can still learn a little more about the Holy Bible.  One of South Main’s best time is during our Bible Study on Wednesday nights.

For the remainder of the spring, we are studying the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark is the earliest Gospel; the first written account of the life and ministry of Jesus. It was written by John Mark, who was Simon Peter’s translator and is likely a summary of Peter’s preaching. John Mark’s mother was a house-church pastor in Jerusalem and his uncle was Barnabas, Paul’s missionary partner. So John Mark grew up in the church in Jerusalem, went on Mission with Paul and Barnabas, and was apprentice to Simon Peter. What an incredible vantage point for sharing the life of Jesus with the world.

Please join us at South Main Baptist Church in the Fellowship Hall on Wednesday evenings any time after 5:15 for supper. Prayer time runs from 6:15 until 6:30 and the Bible Study runs from 6:30 until 7:15. We hope to see you there.

fresh faith.  vintage church.

innerloopchurch.com


Advent is here!

December 7, 2010

By Steve Wells, South Main Baptist Church Pastor

My son Joshua is our Christmas child; his birthday is December 27th. From March until December of 1997, our lives in the Mississippi Delta were focused around his coming into the world. His timing was perfect: Missy’s brother Wes was working at Ole Miss and was leaving for their bowl game in Phoenix (where Missy’s parents live) on the 28th. Wes was able to see his most recent nephew and deliver pictures to proud grandparents the day after his birth. Hardly impressive in the age of Facebook, but quite an accomplishment in the olden days of the late 20th century.

There is something about good news that we just want to share. And there is no better news than in the perfect timing of God, “the fullness of time” as the Scripture calls it, Jesus came into the world. Advent is an opportunity to Share the Miracle. Advent is a call to let our lives focus around the coming of Jesus into the world as we anticipate His birth. Advent is an opportunity for all of us to remember the Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace that our faith offers us. Just like Missy and I prepared our hearts and home for the coming of Joshua, we should prepare our hearts and homes for the coming of Jesus. So we will decorate the sanctuary and dedicate our time to hearing the story, cherishing the traditions, worshipping the Christ child, and following Him as He grows up to become the king.

I hope our Advent book becomes a significant devotional partner for you this season. More than that, I hope Advent gets deep inside you and you experience the wonder of the season afresh. If you do, why not Share the Miracle and invite someone you know to faith in Jesus this year at His birth…

grace and peace,

Steve

innerloopchurch.com

 


Give Grace…by Claire Hein

October 17, 2010

By Claire Hein, South Main Member and student at Baylor’s Truett Seminary

“The beauty of grace is that it makes life unfair,” this lyric from Relient K tags along with every e-mail I send.  We like unfairness when it is directed to us, and we often disdain it when we end up on the losing side of it. But grace calls us to be unfair- unfair to ourselves that is.

Seminary is a hard place to find grace sometimes. The stress of the big questions (and Hebrew!) makes us forget the communal act of grace at times. Oddly enough, this is also the place I see grace the most.

This past summer we lost our parking lot at Truett Seminary. Most students now have to park a mile away and grab a “Truett” shuttle that runs every 10 minutes. This inherently means waking up earlier and arriving at the parking lot precisely in time to catch the shuttle. But no one is perfect. Everyday someone pulls into the parking lot just as the bus is beginning to leave. We’ve each been there, and no one ever objects to waiting an extra 30 seconds to depart. Our schedules are malleable and even though every person on that shuttle planned their life around that schedule, we whole-heartedly make our life less fair and make someone else’s life more fair, if only for 30 seconds.

I’ve been on both ends and been happy to hold the bus and thrilled when the bus is held for me. Grace really is that simple. God made life wholly fairer for us than we deserve. Should we not extend that gift and remember that grace makes life less fair, not begrudgingly but joyously?

Give Grace.


Give Grace

October 4, 2010

Dear South Main Family,

Grace may be the single most defining characteristic of Christian life.  We read about it in the Scripture, “for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works – so that no one can boast.”  We sing about it in worship, “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound that saved a wretch like me.”  We say grace before a meal and ask for grace to be excused from a place.  Grace makes everything it touches beautiful: dancers are graceful; manners are gracious.  As a child I learned to define grace as, “unmerited favor.” In my growing up,  I am less convinced I can define grace.  I have grown to prefer a description to a definition, “a gift which costs the giver everything to give and the receiver nothing to receive.”  Lots of Christian words have been sullied in a secular context: charity, once considered the greatest love one person could offer another has become a thing which, in order to receive it, one must have failed; pious, which once pictured a life rooted in faith, has become a byword for a person who is snooty or hypocritical.  But no matter how much the world touches grace, grace holds its wonder.  There is something both incredibly strong and amazingly gentle about grace.  And still I wonder – how much does grace characterize the living of our days?  Do we live in the gracious bliss of gratefulness for the grace we have from God?  Does having received grace make us more gracious?  What would our lives look like if we who have received grace were to Give Grace?

This fall we are going to take the month of October to Give Grace.  Each week in worship we will examine a grace event.  We will read about grace together from the pages of Philip Yancey’s book, What’s So Amazing About Grace?.  We will Give Grace in acts of mission.  Each of us will have an opportunity to reflect on God’s grace in our own lives and in our interactions with the people in our lives.  And in all these things I pray we will develop a stronger sense of the grace in which we stand and that newfound sense of grace will shape the way we talk our talk, walk our walk, and grace God’s world. I look forward to the month and the way that living it changes us.

Grace and peace,

Steve

Steve Wells, Pastor, South Main Baptist Church