A Blue Christmas

“I can’t wait until 2016 is finally over.” I heard that comment recently. Looking back over the past year, it is understandable to hope and pray for better days. Globally, people have endured earthquakes, floods, wildfires, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other catastrophes. A refugee crisis of historic proportions has displaced millions of people, mostly women and children.  War and terrorism have taken a dreadful toll of human life, property, and peace. Much of the world lives in fear and despair.

Our nation has experienced the most divisive political season in our history. We seem to focus on our differences rather than our similarities. Civility and common courtesy appear to be casualties of cultural dissonance and simmering anger. Violence poisons the very fabric of our society.

Closer to home, our church has faced difficult but necessary assessments of our current realities. We realize that Wieuca’s future greatly depends on wise, Spirit-led decisions that will equip and empower us to reach people around us with the Gospel. We have had hard conversations about where we are and where we want to be in fulfilling the Great Commission.

We have known pain in other ways. The deaths of two of Wieuca’s pastors have bracketed the loss of loved ones and friends. Bill Self died in January after his battle with ALS. The day before Thanksgiving, Pastor Emeritus J.T. Ford slipped away at 96 years of age. Many of our people will observe the holiday season with empty places at their tables, some for the first time.

In 1948, a singer named Doye Dell recorded a song by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson entitled “Blue Christmas.” Almost ten years later, a young rock and roll star named Elvis Presley would make it famous. Written about unrequited love, the song has become a theme for too many around the holidays. It has come to represent those who find little joy in the midst of depression, grief, and discouragement.

Wieuca recognizes that Christmas is not full of good cheer for everyone. We offer a special service on Sunday, December 18th at 5:00 pm in the Heritage Room. It is a time of remembrance, of sharing, of connecting, of honoring. With soft music, prayer, and reflection, this time has come to mean a great deal to those who have attended. You are welcome.

 

 

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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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