A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Monday, July 26, 2010

Post "Christmas in July" Reflections

Here are some of my reflections from the "Christmas in July" worship services which were held yesterday at Lancaster First United Methodist Church in Lancaster, Ohio. The picture with this post is Santa picking up the special Christmas gift from under the tree which ended up being our special offering check to be given toward our conference and district apportionments supporting missions and outreach in our surrounding area and throughout the world.
  • Our church needed a positive boost after a difficult winter/spring season in which we have been faced with some significant financial challenges. While not dismissing the severity of those challenges, many people who attended yesterday sensed joy and hope as a result of our "Christmas in July" fun.
  • It was wonderful to hear during one of our worship services a young child shout out, "Hi Santa!" as Santa made an appearance to help with our special offering announcement.
  • Seeing the church decorated like Christmas and having the large Santa sleigh in the front of the sanctuary was pretty special. It really did feel like Christmas!
  • A staff member told me in between two of the services, "What I like about today is you don't have to go through the long Christmas build-up that you do during the month of December." I agreed!
  • It was nice to get publicity on our event from the local newspaper. We also made it on a radio station.
  • Celebrating "Christmas in July" reminded our congregation that the good news of our faith isn't meant to be confined to one day or season but is meant to be lived out everyday.
  • Of course, the announcement of our special offering amount which will go toward our conference and district apportionments made for a nice moment of celebration during each worship service. Pastor Cheryl, with the help of Santa, opened a Christmas wrapped package that contained a check in the amount of $4,200.
  • By having this special Sunday, we reached a lot of people who wouldn't normally attend church on the last Sunday of July. This is usually a low attendance time of year and we attracted a lot of people to attend from our community. This was our "bring a friend to church" type of Sunday.
  • Partnering with the Lancaster Festival and having their musicians perform in worship was really special.
  • It was really fun to see so many people wear Christmas clothing to worship, including gaudy Christmas ties, Christmas sweaters, and Santa hats!
  • And last but not least, a member gave me a Christmas gift after the last worship service. Guess what it was? Fruit cake!

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