Sanctuary Space at Christmas

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I’ve found myself in our church sanctuary more often as of late.  

I’ll freely admit the odd nature of that opening statement. One would think that the pastor of the church would spend the vast majority of his professional time on the church’s ‘home court.’ Our sanctuary is across the hall from our office and I walk by it numerous times each day. But in full transparency, my time in our sanctuary over these years has been limited to Sunday mornings. 

So, what is it about the last few weeks that has changed?  

Perhaps it’s a combination of a few things. First, our sanctuary is beautiful and transcendent at any time of the year, but it is particularly lovely during the Christmas season. Second, we’ve had the addition of a service or two this month that has demanded more of my time and attention in the sanctuary during the week. The third consideration, however, has the most bite. It’s this: I’ve been in greater need of sanctuary. 

Which, of course, should surprise no one. Every one of us needs times of sanctuary.  

I’m not talking about worship (yes, as children of God we are commanded to worship God). I’m referring to our Christ-like need to withdraw from the crowds, the madness, the discouragements, and the flurry of activity that we are immersed in to simply spend time in the presence of our Heavenly Father.  

We seek out sanctuary because it is the place where God attends to our souls. Sanctuary is a place or an instance in which we can breathe deeply and become more aware of God’s presence. The experience of sanctuary is both comforting and liberating. When hidden away in the embrace of my Creator, I feel free to pray from the deepest parts of my being. I settle in to myself more quickly when I’m in a place of sanctuary and my pulse slows. My inner critic and most vocal demons fade to black and I can sense the strangest of sensations—peace. 

The Advent and Christmas Seasons, for all their proclamations of peace and good cheer, are best understood as times of frenzied activity and panicked merry-making. In some circles, any suggestion of the challenges of the season are met with cold stares and disparaging labeling of someone’s Grinch-like or Scrooge-inspired inclinations.  

Ah, but the practice of sanctuary (also known as Sabbath-taking, oh ye people of faith) is a balm to the Advent-wearied soul. By strategically practicing the spiritual discipline of sanctuary during the Christmas season, we are able to better appreciate the classic Christmas song, “Still, Still, Still.”  

“Still, still, still, 
One can hear the falling snow. 
For all is hushed, 
The world is sleeping, 
Holy Star its vigil keeping. 
Still, still, still, 
One can hear the falling snow.” 

Sanctuary can be experienced in a variety of ways. It can be felt after you’ve put your children down (and your devices, I suspect) while you sit by your Christmas tree. It can be savored on an evening stroll as snowflakes drift silently to the ground. It can be found while listening to great holiday music as you consider the proclamations of Christ’s birth in the evocative lyrics of old. It can be found in journal writing, and in the prayers at dawn that rise while you sip coffee on your front porch and listen to the frost form.  

And Sabbath can happen in our church’s sanctuary, where we recall the power of God’s presence in a place of quiet power, remembrance, hope, and joy.  

It’s open for you to drop in.  

And I promise. The pastor won’t bother you if you do. You might just find him there as well.

"A Rockin' Royal Christmas" Children's Drama

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SHINE proudly presents

Rockin’ Royal Christmas!!

Mystery! Music! Drama! When King Herod sends Sherlock Watson to find out why the kings from the East did not return to him, we discover, along with Sherlock, that Jesus is the King of Kings, and if we believe in Him, we answer to a higher calling than to any king on earth.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
6:00 pm
Mission and Fellowship Center

Moravian Love Feast

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We will be having a Moravian Love Feast on Wednesday, the 19th, in the Mission and Fellowship Center at 6 PM following our usual Weds. Night Dinner. Join us for an affirming and uplifting program of carols, hot cocoa and sweet pastries!
*This will conclude our Sylva First Wednesday programs for 2018. Wednesday Night Activities will resume on January 9, 2018

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service


Begin your family’s Christmas celebration with the story of Christ’s birth. Join us at 5:30 PM on December 24th for First Baptist Church of Sylva’s Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Our family friendly event will capture the magic of Christmas with familiar carols, the retelling of the Christmas story and the glow of candlelight. Don’t miss this opportunity to create lifelong memories with your entire family!

Christmas Offering

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If you're looking for a Christmas gift for a loved one, choose to give a gift in honor or in memory of someone special through our Christmas Offering! The income we receive from this offering will be divided equally between our local mission partners, namely: Jackson County Neighbors in Need, AWAKE, Circles of Hope, and Blue Ridge Health Jackson. When you make a contribution to this Christmas Offering, the church will send an informative–and handsome!–Christmas card to the person you are choosing to honor. Christmas Offering envelopes are available in both the pew racks in our sanctuary and in our church office.

Coat Drive

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The youth are collecting coats. Our goal is to provide some warmth for any in our community who are without a coat this winter. We will also take sweaters, hoodies, and other jackets. So if you have a coat or jacket that you no longer wear, bring it to the Loving Kindness Room. If it can be laundered please wash it. If it needs dry cleaning we will see that it is done.

A Note from Our Friends at Blue Ridge Health

Dear Jeff Mathis and Deacons,

Please know that your ongoing support makes a tremendous difference in the lives of our community members. The generous financial gifts from your church family provide badly needed care for uninsured patients, purchases vital medications, and supports pediatric medical appointments.

Blessings to each of you!

Pat Blanton
Blue Ridge Health
Sylva, NC

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