Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Our prayer for you and your family is that you will have a wonderful Christmas holiday time remembering together the birth of Jesus and the impact his coming into our world has made upon your lives. As our Sanctuary Choir encouraged us to do this past Sunday, let’s be sure to “Sing Noel” wherever we find ourselves and thus share the good news of Jesus’ love and grace with folks we meet. Merry Christmas!

While it is uncertain how the term “Merry Christmas” began to be used, perhaps the first time its use is recorded is in a letter written in 1534 by a Catholic bishop imprisoned in the Tower of London. He would not recognize King Henry VIII as the “Supreme Head of the Church and Clergy in England” and that rebellion resulted in imprisonment and execution. Now, I don’t know for sure, but he may have wanted to argue that the Pope is the “Supreme Head of the Church.” Either way, the bishop’s way or the king’s way, missed the point of Christmas, viz. Jesus was born to be the head of the church, of our hearts, and of our lives.

That is the way we have been singing it:

“Born Thy people to deliver, born a child, and yet a King,

born to reign in us forever, now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone;

by Thine all sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne.”

Charles Wesley, 1744, “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”

And with this classic Advent hymn, we praise God that Jesus has come to reign in us and show us every day all that he intends for his kingdom to look like “on earth as it is in heaven!” In this new year, as we search for a new Pastor and as we look to honor the Lord with our lives, we enter the year with prayers of submission to Jesus’ lordship and his desires for our days as the head of our church and of our lives journeys. Merry Christmas!

And a Merry Christmas was encouraged through your gifts and your time during the Greater Cleveland County Baptist Association’s Toy Store this year. Many of you brought in toys that were added to other toys from our Association’s churches that were used to bless the lives of our Cleveland County neighbors in need of Christmastime assistance. I was thankful to see the Toy Store in action as folks came in and sat with counselors who shared with them the hope of Jesus – professions of faith were made on this day!

Then, I was thankful to see the Poplar Springs connection to this day as Brotherhood members and others served well throughout the day. Of the 18 volunteers there that day, 6 were from Poplar Springs. Alice and Lana Pyron caringly and encouragingly helped folks with their shopping; Sid Bryson and Floyd Queen made sure to offer refreshments to the shoppers and volunteers; Sid and Ed Clontz helped load vehicle after vehicle with toys and the blessing of “Merry Christmas” as the shoppers made their way home (to try to unpack all the toys and food we packed into those vehicles! – The day started with 95 bicycles which miraculously fit into the smallest of vehicles throughout the day!)

Thank you, Poplar Springs church family! Through your gifts of toys, music, food, time, mission offerings, and encouragement, you help many know that it is because of Jesus that we share together in a “Merry Christmas!”

In the Love of Jesus,

Tony Tench