On Sunday, December 20, Hayward Wesleyan Church will once again celebrate a beloved tradition: March to the Manger. We've done this for six years now -- and it is always heartwarming and beautiful.
In the weeks proceeding Christmas Sunday, we encourage the congregation to prayerfully consider what they will offer Jesus for His birthday. We ask every man, woman, teenager and child to plan ahead and give careful thought to this request. (Think about a special Christmas gift for Jesus -- just like you would for all you other loved ones.)
This Sunday, our people will bring their gifts wrapped up (or in a special envelope provided) to the worship service, where they will present them to Christ.
Of course, a financial offering is always appropriate (March to the Manger is the offering), but we ask the church to reflect much deeper than that. What does it mean to offer YOURSELF to Jesus? What new commitment do you need to make? Is there a promise to keep? Is there something you should quit or start? What is the deepest prayer of your heart?
We will present an inter-generational Living Nativity, with Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, wise men, and Baby Jesus, while singing familiar carols as the drama unfolds.
Then, at the end, the whole congregation will come and join the Christmas nativity, singing “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Every time we do this, a beautiful sense of God’s love fills the church as the congregation flows forward bearing their gifts for their Savior.
March to the Manger is always a high point of generosity: often, the largest offering of the year, helping us with our general fund, as well as missions, benevolence and building fund.
But far beyond the monetary gifts, there are always significant spiritual commitments. In the past, gifts from March to the Manger have included cut up credit cards, packs of cigarettes, bottles of alcohol, lottery tickets, watches (giving my time to Jesus), gifts for needy children, items for the community food shelf, letters of spiritual surrender, blankets, acts of kindness, all sorts of things. Also, every year, there are some who take the step of faith and commit themselves entirely to Christ!
I look forward to seeing what special things God does this Sunday!