Dear Advent Pilgrims,
We are now just one week away from Christmas Eve, and the joyous celebration of the birth of Jesus. For today’s Midweek Message, I want to share with you the exciting lineup of events and programs that will guide us once again toward Bethlehem. Please plan on joining us and inviting others along! Further details on these opportunities are found on our website, hydeparkumc.org/Christmas.
Friday, Dec. 18, Lessons and Carols Service: At 9 a.m. tomorrow, we will upload to our Facebook and YouTube pages a beautiful Service of Lessons and Carols offered by our Traditional Music Ministry. It was written in 1880 by E.B. Benson and tells the grand narrative of God’s love throughout the Bible, a fitting end to our Bible Project 2020. You will be able to watch it at your convenience and be inspired.
Friday and Saturday, Dec. 18-19, 6-8 p.m. Drive-Through Nativity! Come to the Hyde Park campus and experience the beauty of the Christmas story like never before. With audio narration playing in your car, you’ll drive past eight scenes that interweave the story of Jesus’ birth with stories from today. It is offered by our Children’s and Youth Ministries, and features live actors and animals, and festive lighting and music, all from the safety of your vehicle. Free-will donations will support our Sparrow Fund, which helps people with emergency needs.
Monday, Dec. 21, 7 p.m. Blue Christmas Service: Join us online for a beautiful and deeply meaningful worship service for all who are experiencing loss and grief this time of year. It takes place on the longest night of the year and will be a chance for you to name your suffering and offer it to the redemptive and transformative love of God. It will also include the sacrament of Holy Communion, for which you will want to have bread and juice at home.
Gifts for Good: For your last-minute Christmas shopping, if you’re looking for a meaningful gift for a loved one, this is a unique way to help those in desperate need and, at the same time, honor those on your Christmas list. Go to hydeparkumc.org/GiftsforGood, check out the mission agencies and place your order, either online or by printing the order form.
Sparrow Fund: Another great way to make a difference this Christmas is through our Sparrow Fund. We partner with Metropolitan Ministries here in Tampa to assist families experiencing hardship. In 2020, the Sparrow Fund assisted more than 400 families. To make a contribution, go to HydeParkumc.org/Sparrow.
Christmas Eve Worship: Join us in celebrating the birth of Jesus and the arrival of Christ’s light into the world. Our online service will be broadcast through our website and Facebook Page at 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 11 p.m., and features some stunning Christmas music by our music ministries. You’ll want to have a candle in front of you as we share in the light of Christ at the end of each service.
Christmas Eve Candle Lighting Ceremonies: In addition, we will be offering in-person opportunities on both campuses in the form of brief, 10-minute candle lighting ceremonies around the Courtyard fountain (Hyde Park campus) and the Homeless Jesus sculpture (The Portico campus). It takes place at The Portico at 7 and 7:30 p.m., and on the Hyde Park campus at 8, 8:30, 9, 9:30, 10, 10:30, 11, 11:30, and 12 midnight. It will feature a Scripture reading, prayer, and the sharing of candlelight during “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World.” In addition, the Sanctuary and The Portico Community Hall will be open for private prayer, and family photos can be taken at various decorative locations on the campus. No reservation is necessary, and please wear a mask and maintain distance.
Again, visit our Christmas page for more details on all these exciting opportunities over the week ahead. And join us this Sunday as we observe the fourth Sunday of Advent, and celebrate the gift of God’s love!
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magre deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist