First it was earthworms; next, a starfish. As the semester progressed, we moved on to frogs and finally a shark. Tenth grade biology class was a sophomoric teenager’s delight. We experienced the joys of dissection. With scalpel in hand, we were taught to peer inside the body of God’s work and see the intricacies of life. We moved beyond the visible whole and began to appreciate nature for the miraculous sum of its parts. We were instructed to take our time. Be slow. Be intentional. Be observant.

The staff of First Baptist Greenville would like to invite you to an Advent dissection. (I promise no formaldehyde, pithing or deceased lab animals will be involved.) This year’s Advent Devotional Guide is a ‘line by line’ dissection of the Christmas story as recorded in Luke 2 written by your church staff. We – administrative assistants, program ministers, musicians, senior minister – were each assigned one line from the Christmas story. We prayerfully wrote our thoughts about that particular line. We allowed these twenty-three lines to provide the framework for this year’s twenty-two days of Advent plus Christmas Day. As a church, we will read one line per day of this story of shepherds, animals, angels and the holy family. That’s all. Rather than rush through the whole of the story, we are inviting you to be slow, be intentional and be observant. Let it soak in. Listen to our thoughts. Listen to your thoughts. Discern where God is leading you for that particular day.

The devotional guides will be available at the Reception Desk this Sunday. Please take one. In the hustle and bustle of this busy season, we are offering you the opportunity to slow down for at least a moment each day. Commit to a few minutes each morning or evening or during your lunch hour or in the carpool line or whenever is convenient for you and spend some time with a line from the Christmas story. By the time Advent is over and Christmas day arrives, I think you will truly appreciate the whole of the story because of the miraculous sum of its parts.

— Jim