Advent 2017



    Time — how it’s used and its soul-shaping quality — is very important in Christian spirituality. The daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms of our lives are not a neutral aspect of the life of faith. This has always been recognized in our tradition. Early Christians, using the Jewish rhythm (feasts, holy days, etc.) as a point of departure, began to think of the yearly Christian experience in seasons. This is where we get the idea of the church calendar. Advent is first such season, the first season of the Christian year.

    Advent is the season before Christmas, designed to anticipate Christmas celebration. Advent intends to guide us into the desperate longing and somewhat frustrated waiting that has always been associated with life of the people of God.

    Longing and waiting for God to come, to rescue, to fulfill, to deliver, to restore, to make things new and right. Think of profound things for which you were required to wait. Think of that sense of frustration, angst, joy, anticipation, and longing you felt. That feeling comes close to the heart of the Advent season.

    The Advent season enters us into the longing of the people of Israel, as they hoped and anticipated the arrival of God’s anointed, king-like figure, in the line of David, foretold in the shadowy, mythic oracles of the prophets.

    At Advent, we also enter into longing and waiting of Christians everywhere, as we hope and anticipate the re-arrival of Christ. The great Christian hope is that he will appear to finish the job he started. To re-assert his rule and reign in a final, complete way.

    The Christian journey is lived in the tension of these two Advents, arrivals, comings. God’s kingdom’s re-establishment has been launched in Jesus’ arrival. This kingdom is here, but not quite fully here yet. It will be here fully eventually, but for now we wait. If this living-between-the-comings doesn’t explain a lot about our lives and our world, I don’t know what else does. Advent brings these two comings before our hearts and minds. Professor David Taylor writes, “Advent asks: ‘How does the original coming of God to earth and the future, eschatological coming of God inform our experience of God's coming here and now?’”

    At Advent, we remember we desperately need God to come. Some have called Advent a “Little Lent” because it asks that we search our hearts, examine the darkness and neediness found there, confess and repent from sin, and anticipate God’s grace, mercy, and redemption.

    Advent is the season when we enter into this story. When, in a uniquely focused manner, we read, think, pray, long, wait, and hope along these lines: Christ came, but Christ also comes into our lives in fresh and new ways, and Christ will come again. This is the spirit of the Advent season.

Mission at Grace Fellowship

...As the Father sent me, I am sending you.    John 20:21



At Grace, we believe that Jesus has called us to be a family of Christ Followers sent to celebrate and declare the gospel in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, and to the ends of the earth.

As Grace's pastor, I'm sometimes nervous that we would be faithful only to a portion of this calling. I'm nervous that we would connect as family, which is beautiful, good, and right. I'm concerned that we would learn to grow up into Christ, which is essential, glorious, and productive. 

But I fear it would stop there. That we would become focused on all that has to be done to love each other and grow in our faith that we would forget we are God's sent people.

The good news, however,  is that these things are not in competition with one another. The ministry of a local church, thankfully, is not a zero-sum game, where an emphasis on one aspect of our identity somehow necessitates a diminishing of the another portion. 

Instead, our fellowship with each other, and our discipleship in the way of Jesus, when understood rightly, should propel us outside of ourselves to love, serve, and be the faithful presence of Christ in our world. Instead of Mission being relegated to a department of our church, our sense-of-having-been-sent must pervade all aspects of who we are and what we do.

We want to create a church culture that thinks like this about Mission.



We understand that putting the thinking, stated above, into action doesn't just happen without intentional steps. As a young church plant, we must "plant" this part of our identity too.

We've chosen to begin this process through partnership — both local and global. We're seeking to build relationships with organizations in order join in on the things that the Lord is already doing in our community, in our city, in our nation, and in our world. We've begun giving financially and seeking ways to be involved with the partners listed HERE.

Further, this Fall, we hope to bolster some of our local outreach efforts. These are some initiatives we'll pursue in-house to extend the love of Christ around us. Our ESL program is one example of these efforts.



* Imagine members of our body "scattering" thoughtfully each week, intentionally practicing hospitality and inviting outsiders in and purposefully having gospel conversations throughout the week.

* Imagine our folks paying attention to the needs around us and, in Spirit-led fashion, beginning to lead the charge for our body as we engage.

* Imagine Grace people knowing their neighbors, hosting neighborhood gatherings, and importantly, living at a humane and sustainable pace to allow the space for these relationships of gospel intentionality to flourish.

* Imagine our church becoming a refuge and resource center for internationals as they transition to Birmingham.

* Imagine our people forming teams to go and serve our partners for a short-term duration, outside of our city, and maybe throughout the world.

* Imagine an intentional structure in place within our body to identify, train, encourage, and send folks, long term, to the uttermost parts of the earth. Imagine Grace becoming a training center, and a sending center.

* Imagine church planting initiatives where we send out members from our community to begin new works. Imagine a residency program that brings church planters into our body, so that we can send them out.


Would you pray for us to these ends?

We BELIEVE we are all called. So would you ask the lord to clarify your role in it?

And Would you share this vision with others?