Advent Devotion Introduction

The Christmas story is about journeys.  It is the story of a young expectant mother traveling to Bethlehem with her husband to pay taxes.  It is the story of the Magi following the stars in search of a King, and of humble shepherds taking leave of their sheep to find a Savior wrapped in cloth in a manger.

And so it is for all of us.  The birth of Christ marks the beginning of the journey to Easter and our personal journey from brokenness to wholeness.  For those who choose to listen, the Christmas story transforms each of us into a traveler on the road to reconciliation, redemption and hope.

Our personal journey has taken us to many places only God could have imagined, from the windswept plains of a North Dakota reservation to the sugar cane fields of south Florida; from a barrio in the desert Southwest to the hollows of Appalachia, and the streets of inner-city Washington, D.C.  Along the way we were blessed with a decade at Fredericksburg Baptist Church where we were nurtured, supported, challenged and uplifted.

In 2002, we were humbled to have been asked to share some stories of our journey with our fellow parishioners during Advent season.  And, this year, we are equally humbled to share these stories with our friends at Tabernacle Baptist Church. In the pages of this devotional you will hear the stories of those we have come to know as we have traveled…stories from our work with Native Americans, migrant farm workers, elderly persons and the homeless men, women and children.

Many of the people we will introduce to you in the pages ahead have led very difficult lives.  Most have overcome incredible odds and openly share their stories.  Others are more reticent, desiring to put the past behind them and grasp their new futures of hope.  In order to ensure that we did not compromise anyone’s privacy we have changed some of the details.

Additionally, to make it easier for readers (and the writers), we have chosen to refer to God as He, even though it our belief that God encompasses both masculinity and femininity.  All scripture references, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Bible in Today’s English Version, commonly know as the “Good News Bible.” 

A number of the readings make reference to Christ House, a medical recovery facility with 24–hour nursing coverage for homeless and formerly homeless men and women.  Christ House is an all-encompassing ministry with a social work department, a substance abuse recovery program, a worshipping congregation, and a staff who live in community on site.  Kairos House is a companion ministry nearby where former Christ House patients committed to recovery live in community. Christ House is located in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC, and was part of the Church of the Saviour’s family of ministries. The Church of the Saviour is now a scattered community of independent churches.

As we journey toward the destination of Christmas, we must recognize that this journey is only preparation for a longer one.  Christ invites you on a longer journey into the life of your community to tell the story of Jesus and reach out to a hurting world.

It is our prayer that through our stories you will hear the Christmas story in a different way this year, and the people we introduce to you will challenge you to invest yourselves even more in ministry at Tabernacle Baptist Church and in the community.   As we begin our journey remember these words of Jean Vanier:

We are called to drink deeply from the heart of Christ, so that we, the church, can become a home for the lonely and the crushed of this earth. Christ puts into the arms of His church the suffering and the hungry of this world so that they may heal us, call us down from our pedestals of power and wealth and lead us into the wisdom of the beatitudes.

Please come with us as we travel to Christmas.

Fred and Ginny Karnas

A word of Gratitude.

Dear Family,

I want to thank everyone for their hard work and trust as we wrapped up the end of the church year in a whirlwind of ministry and worship. Last weekend’s Fan Feast was a tremendous success as we fed over 145 neighbors and volunteers. The event was well organized with an abundance of energy, delightful cuisine, warm clothing, and deep conversation. The kitchen crew, clothes organizers, servers, and greeters represented their Savior and his church with great integrity. The love of Christ beamed at the corner of Grove and Meadow last Saturday.

The events of last Sunday were also quite meaningful as we dedicated ourselves to the spiritual upbringing of two children, welcomed Will Cumbia into the fold, offered bread for the journey to Jacque, and gave thanks to God for the year behind us! Even as I type this, our New York Mission Team is cooking 17 turkeys at Metro Baptist Church!

I have asked key leadership in the church to make a commitment, alongside the Pastoral Staff, to dedicate these next few weeks to rest and renewal. Our prayerful reflection will provide necessary space to breath and prepare for someone new. The season ahead will provide multiple opportunities for us to express our gratitude to God, reconnect with one another, and welcome new friends into the fold. Let’s begin this new church year setting a tone for the revival at hand.

Hope to see you on Sunday for the first Sunday in Advent. We will baptize Haley during worship and, later that afternoon, we will re-convene to celebrate the life and legacy of Charlotte Wright!

Yours in Christ,

Sterling W. Severns

Race Dialogue: Spring 2018

This spring series is an invitation, as one body in Christ with diverse perspectives on race, to begin an honest conversation on the reality of disparities and tensions in our communities. This series will provide opportunities to share your personal experience and stories related to race, learn more about our collective church history and context, and grow toward an embodiment of Jesus that offers healing in our divided society. During this season of Epiphany, we are launching the spring series on race with in-home Dessert & Dialogues. 

This is an opportunity to gather in one another’s homes to engage in facilitated dialogue in an intimate small group setting. We’ll have the chance to share and listen to each other’s personal experiences and epiphanies in our awareness and understanding related to race. This is an invitation for all TBC adults and youth to begin an important conversation, and we encourage you to join as you are able. Below you will find a timeline overview, and on the back of this sheet you can RSVP to attend a “Dessert & Dialogue” Group. 

If you are interested in opening your home to host a Dessert & Dialogue discussion, please email



Beginning Jan. 25: Dessert & Dialogues (Session 1)

These dialogues will be hosted in homes and facilitated by church members. The focus will be on sharing and listening to each other’s individual stories and experiences related to race. Please fill out the back of this document and place it in the offering plate. Please register your top three choices via the online registration page. You will be matched with a group, then informed of the date and location.

Feb. 21 – Mar. 21: Wednesday Night Lenten Series

This Wednesday night series, on Feb. 21, 28, Mar. 7, 14, & 21, will be an opportunity for us to learn about our context and collective history as Tabernacle Baptist Church in Richmond, VA. We will hear members of the community share their stories, and speakers discuss the complex history and legacies of racism that will help us better understand ourselves and our faith as it relates to race.

After Easter: Dessert & Dialogues (Session 2)

Following Resurrection Sunday, a second round of Dessert and Dialogues will give us the opportunity to share what we have learned from listening to one another, from hearing the Wednesday night speakers, and from our reflections on the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection in our lives. Session 2 invites us to ask “What comes next?” 



We are excited to move toward an embodiment of Jesus as a church by participating in this series on race with an openness to listening, learning, growing, and extending grace, all with humility and respect. To prepare for this series please take advantage of the resource list. The list is available online. Hardcopies are posted at the welcome station outside the sanctuary.