I enjoy spending time with people I like. Some of these folk are or have been close friends and family. During high school, I played guitars, talked about cars and double-dated to prom with Jeff Love. Jeff was a groomsman in my wedding, is a fellow minister and still holds a treasured place in my mind’s store of memories.

Some of the people with whom I enjoy spending time are less literal and more literary. I enjoy wallowing in the words of authors like: Charles Dickens, Henri Nouwen, Christopher Moore, J. D. Salinger, Dana Gioia, Amy Tan, Glenn Kurtz and Frances Mayes. I learn a lot from walking alongside characters like: Ebeneezer Scrooge, Ma Joad, Biff, Jing Mei Woo and Holden Caulfield.

This Advent season, I’m going to spend some time with one of my favorite biblical characters – Mary, the mother of Jesus. I hope you’ll join me. We will begin our time with a pre-Advent SEE Retreat on Saturday, December 2, titled “Praying with Mary.” The retreat will begin at 10:00am in the Parlor, and we will prayerfully receive the words of Mary contained in Luke 1-2. If you’d like to attend this retreat, please register online at https://firstbaptistgreenville.com/prayingwithmary/. Then, during worship on the four Sundays of Advent, we will explore God’s work in the life of this miraculous mother. On December 3, we will Hang the Greens and celebrate God’s consecration of the ordinary: our decorations, the life of Mary and our lives. On December 10, our Sanctuary Choir will lead us in enjoying the songs of the season and in particular, the songs of and about Mary. On December 17, we will affirm the sense of fellowship and community enjoyed during this season as we learn from the friendship of Mary and Elizabeth, and finally, on December 24, we will find strength for our life journeys as we read and enjoy the familiar story of Mary’s journey to Bethlehem.

I enjoy spending time with people I like. I’m looking forward to spending this Advent season with Mary… and with you!

— Jim