Advent & Christmas 2016

Join us to anticipate and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this season! Make Onalaska United Methodist Church part of your family Christmas traditions.

Sunday 12/4 Advent 2
8:30 & 11:00am Worship (“Christmas With Ghosts,” Pastor Park)
6:00pm Service of Healing & Wholeness

Saturday 12/10
9:00am Cookie Walk
2:00pm Children’s Pageant (“Backwards Christmas”)

Sunday 12/11 Advent 3
8:30 & 11:00am Worship (“Christmas Presence,” Paul Bratsch)
11:00am Praise Worship

Sunday 12/18 Advent 4
8:30am Christmas Cantata (“Joy!”)
11:00am Christmas Cantata

Wednesday 12/21
7:00pm NoteWorthy Bells Service (“Carol of the Bells”)

Friday 12/23
10:00am Caroling Service with Pastor Park & family @ Onalaska Care Center

Saturday 12/24 Christmas Eve Candlelight Services
5:00pm Family Service
7:00pm Carols Service
10:00pm Communion Service

Sunday 12/25 Christmas Day
9:30am Classic Worship (“The Unexpected Gift,” Pastor Park)

Sunday 1/1 New Year’s Day
9:30am Praise Worship (“Perseverance,” Pastor Bruce)

Word Up: Context

“See, I have set the land before you…” (Deuteronomy 1:8)

Context. We often talk about our need to understand the time, the place, and the people in a reading from scripture, in order to understand what God is doing. What did God’s word mean in their historical context?

But do we understand how our current context affects us? Imagine church for a moment. Our sanctuary is a physical place which helps many people feel a sense of peace, of safety, of belonging. The altar is front and center, physically emphasizing the importance of communion and the presence of Jesus Christ.

Recently we heard from Circles of Support, a CCFA mission project that surrounds people coming out of jail with supportive church folks who help them reintegrate into a normal life of work, volunteering, and socializing. Circles of Support volunteers provide a new context of relationships for these ex-offenders, instead of them falling back into the bad relationships that probably led them to trouble before.

With Christmas approaching, many people change their context to help them “get in the mood.” They hang decorations and play Christmas music, fill the house with the smell of baking, and attend a candlelight service at church. These sights, sounds, and smells evoke memories and feelings that help many people “feel” Christmas as we celebrate the hope, joy, and peace that attend the birth of Jesus Christ.

Context can also have a negative influence. As we read The Story at church, one of the recurring themes is the temptation of God’s people. Because they did not drive out the tribes in the promised land, they were continually influenced by the cults of wealth, child sacrifice, and ritual prostitution of those people they live among.

As you look around yourself today, what is your context? Does your environment at home, school, or work help you feel safe and happy? Are you edified and encouraged by the music, TV, movies, books, and news you to which you give your attention? Are the people you spend time with a good influence? … Or, is exactly the opposite true?

Christmas is about context. In the infant Jesus Christ, God entered directly into our world, our context, shaping and influencing world history and our individual hearts and lives. Pay attention this Christmas to God’s presence and God’s specific love for you. Take advantage of the many opportunities at church to surround yourself in the context of God’s love. Be the context for others, who are shaped by your presence, words, actions, and attitude.

And as the New Year unfolds with its boundless opportunities, remember your context. Jesus says, “You are here, here in my heart, here surrounded by my love, here amongst my people.” Context is not confinement, but opportunity. God has set the land before us. Go with God!

Blessings for Advent and the New Year…

Pastor Park