A True Advent and A True Christmas

I have celebrated Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, for as long as I can remember: lighting candles on the advent wreath, opening daily one little window on a cardboard advent calendar to find chocolate and a bible verse, memorizing my line for the pageant at church. As part of a Christian family, I understood that Advent was the season in which we waited for the arrival of God’s gift, baby Jesus. As an American child, I knew the countdown was on for Santa’s arrival and the gifts he would bring, too!


But up until this year, I do not think I ever truly experienced Advent.


Though it’s a little unclear as to when and where Advent began to be observed, we know its origins are linked to a time of fasting and penitence; preparing for the mysterious incarnation of Emmanuel, “God with us,” is connected to us recognizing our need for a Savior. Life is hard, we are struggling, we cannot save ourselves. God, please come! Advent, of course, leads us to Christmas, the day set aside to celebrate Christ’s birth. This comes just days after the winter solstice, during the darkest week of the year.


Somewhere along the line, Christian Christmas festivities adopted traditions of other winter celebrations. People in northern Europe lit candles and hung evergreens to recognize light that shines in the darkness, life that endures the most frigid cold. It makes sense that Christians would associate light and life with the coming of Christ.


Perhaps that is why, this year, Advent and the promises of Christmas bring new meaning. Perhaps this year, more than ever, all of us – despite our religious beliefs – need a reminder that light overcomes the dark, life abides, and hope, love, joy and peace still reign in human hearts.


As a pastor, I have witnessed how the discourse and division in our country and world are affecting our families and institutions. We do not know who to trust. We worry about who sees us an enemy, simply based on who we voted for or how we feel about the latest issue. We feel misunderstood and easily become isolated, believing that no one else understands the pain, confusion, loneliness or anger we feel. Life is hard. We are struggling. We do not know how to save ourselves.


But on this special night, whether you sing about hope and joy while lighting a candle at church, gather with loved ones around a table filled with good food, or experience your loneliness and grief in deeply profound ways, may you know that Christmas is about Light and Life. May you sense the hope, love, joy and peace the Christ-child brings. May you experience the wonder and promise of the holiday after a long and dark season of waiting. May you have a blessed, meaningful, and Merry Christmas!

Pastor Wendy Ochs


Welcome to Our Blog!

“Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; glory to him in the church and in Jesus Christ for all generations, forever and always. Amen.”    – Ephesians 3:20-21

Welcome to Evangelical United Methodist Church’s (EUMC) very first blog post! EUMC is the place where we work hard to ACT OUR FAITH every day – and this blog is the place where we will celebrate that.

In our blog you will find stories about how God is at work in, through, around, and even despite (yes, we mess up sometimes) us. These will be personal stories from church members, stories about our church family, stories about the work God has given us to do through the Free Store, at the Women’s Prison, with our Broadwater School neighbors, and in the lives of the children & youth we love.  You may even hear a story or two about our neighbors from around the world, such as the pastors we support in Angola, Africa.

We take our mission to Act Our Faith seriously.

Methodists tend to be “practical theologians.” We do not spend all of our time contemplating lofty theology or dreaming about our eternal destination. We know that the majority of our earthly lives must be spent living in the mess of the world. Because of that, we work hard to pragmatically live out our faith among the mess. We ask God to help us share the love of Christ with those who need it. We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner. (Literally. We really and actually do those things.) We tutor the kids and pray for the teachers at Broadwater school. We treat each other as family – sharing one another’s burdens, encouraging each other, laughing and crying together, and sometimes arguing about our differences. And through it all, we love each other. Through it all, we recognize that in this mess of a world, we are stronger together. God uses us to bless each other and to bless the world.

So we hope you’ll enjoy the blogs we post! You are welcome to comment and share your own thoughts, and we trust you will do so in a manner that is helpful and respectful. May God bless our efforts and continue to be at work in, through, around, among, and even despite us! Amen.