On Sunday, December 19, Hayward Wesleyan Church will,again, clebrate Christmas with a special event called March to the Manger, at their three worship services, 8:20, 9:40 and 11:00 a.m.
Here's what happened during last year's March to the Manger, according to Senior Pastor, Mark O. Wilson.
In the weeks proceeding Christmas Sunday, we encouraged the congregation to prayerfully consider what they would offer Jesus for His birthday. We asked every man, woman, teenager and child to plan ahead and give careful thought to this request. We asked the people to bring their gifts wrapped up (or in a special envelope provided) to the worship service, where they would present them to Christ.
Of course, a financial offering is always appropriate, but we asked the church to reflect much deeper than that. What does it mean to offer YOURSELF to Christ? What new commitment do you need to make? Is there a promise you need to keep? Is there something you need to quit or start? What is the prayer of your heart?
When Christmas Sunday arrived, there was special electricity in the air. The congregation flowed enthusiastically into the church, bearing their special gifts for Jesus.
At the conclusion of the service, we presented a living nativity. Mary and Joseph entered as we sang “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Baby Jesus (played by the precious twins Johnnie Jo and Candice Rain LaFontaine) appeared as we sang “Silent Night”. Angels, the little drummer boy and shepherds followed with other carols. As we sang “We Three Kings”, the wise men strolled majestically down their aisle, bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Then, I invited the congregation to come and join the nativity, singing “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
A beautiful sense of God’s love filled the church as the congregation flooded towards the front of the church bearing their gifts for their Savior.
When it was all over, we were astounded by the overwhelming results. Not only did we have the largest offering in the history of the church, (helping us catch up in the general fund and including generous gifts for benevolence, missions and our building fund) but there were many significant spiritual commitments made as well.
The gifts presented to Jesus included two packs of cigarettes, a pouch of chewing tobacco, a bottle of gin, two credit cards (cut up), a clock and a watch (“giving my time to Jesus”), a Yogi Berra baseball card, a miniature television (“I’ve been watching too much TV.”), a blanket, a quilt, lots of items for our food pantry, gifts for needy children, many acts of kindness and blessing – and best of all – there were several who committed their lives to Christ that day!!
Back in October, as we considered doing this, I said, “This will either be a colossal failure, or it will become an annual tradition.”
It’s going to be an annual tradition.