2015 - Festival of Lights

Witnessing to the Truth of God’s Word to the Serpent in the Garden of Eden

Once in a while an event happened that transcends our human barriers, our denominational boundaries, and our ecclesiastical polities. The Woodlawn United Methodist Church’s festival of lights held in Woodlawn, Tennessee on Sunday, December 13, 2015 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. was such an event.

“Woodlawn United Methodist Church’s Festival of lights creatively chronicled the Story of Christ, from before His human birth to after His Divine resurrection. [It] faithfully retold those events through the narration of Biblical passages directly from the Holy Writ, and indirectly through vocal interpretation of Biblical verses set to music” Dr. Richard Yorke, the Banks Chapel United Methodist church’s Minister of Music, proclaimed. “It focused not on the festive tradition, but rather it focused on the One who makes the tradition festive: Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It focused on the prophecies of His coming, the anticipation of His arrival for hundred of years. His carefully chosen parents, His sinless conception, the treachery of His enemies, the persistence of His followers, the regality of His lineage, His uniqueness as both human and Divine, His gift of everlasting life, and His return as the son of God to the right hand of God the Father.”

The Christmas program designated its special offering to the Glory of God through the establishment of a College Scholarship fund that will help educate our church’s future leaders.

Reverend Dr. Apelu Poe, the pastor of the above church, designed the program to reconstruct the story of Jesus’ birth based on Jesus’ own proclamation, “These are my words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses [Torah] and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled,” (Luke 24:44).

“It is no surprise that the very first Messianic prophecy should occur within the context of the Fall. If sin had not entered the world, there would never have been a need for a redeeming Messiah. The Festival of lights Christmas program, then, will help us to appreciate God’s faithfulness to the promise he made to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel,’ (Genesis 3:15),” Dr. Poe explained, “so that we can clearly see the unity and the coherence of the biblical witness concerning the mystery surrounding the birth of Jesus, the Messiah.”

The congregation and those who gathered in a dim sanctuary that evening were in full anticipation of the start of the program when all of a sudden they heard the enactment of the sound of the shofar in the wilderness played by Josiah Poe. This was followed by the voice of the Biblical narrator played by Dr. Poe, “In the beginning the Lord God created His Word along with the Hebrew alphabet aleph-tav, God’s sacred tongue. And with his Word and His sacred tongue the Lord God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. John testifies, saying, that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; all things were made through Him. In Him was life, and life was the light of men. And the Lord God said, “Let there be light; and there was light.”

When the light of the sanctuary came on, Diane Chester led the congregation with a corresponding call to worship and Sonny Caruthers the opening prayer. The Felchlin family lit the Advent candle. Dr. Poe delivered a word of welcome to all whose presence made the first Festival of lights Christmas program a memorable occasion. Scripture readings were read by the following people: Don Chester, Wanda Wheeler, Henrietta Clark, Denise Felchlin, Bill Wheeler, Barbara Carter, Brigitte Sanders, Anne Staats, Frances Davies, Sherry Hersh, Irv Staats, Flora Newman, Elsbeth Taylor, Cathy Hunt, and Faapio Poe. Clarence Cheatham, pastor of Woodlawn Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church blessed the special offering collected.

The congregation singing, led by Hyeeun Hahm, alternated the reading of the Scriptures with an uplifting singing of the following carols and hymns. O come all ye faithful, Joy to the world, Angels we have heard on high, Rejoice the Lord is King, We three kings, Hark the herald angels sing, Once in Royal David’s city, It came upon a midnight clear, Go tell it on the mountain, O little town of Bethlehem, Mary did you know, O come, o come Immanuel, Away in a manger, The first noel, O Holy Night, Majesty, and Silent night.

Elsbeth Taylor said, “It was an honor having had the opportunity to participate in the festival of lights at the Woodlawn UMC. The tracing of the prophecies of the coming of our Redeemer from Genesis through Luke and the befitting chorals to each Scripture reading was an enrichment to heart and soul. What a wonderful worship of our Lord!”

The program provided an opportunity for the children representing different countries of the world to bring their gifts to Jesus. Moreover, it provided a rare chance for the singers to share their gifts of music. Isabela Hansen, sang Mary did you know while the Silent Night was sung by Hyeeun Hahm in Korean, Brigitte Sanders, Elsbeth Taylor and Brigitte Parsons in German, Noel Sanchez and his congregation in Spanish, Alaivailahi Fiefia in Tongan, and Dr. Poe in Samoan.

Dr. Poe explained that he hoped that this Christmas program, which he expected would become an annual celebration, served as a helpful tool through which we can better understand the mystery surrounding the greatest miracle of all time. It is a miracle not of a man who became God but of a God who opted to become a man, “so that from his fullness have we all received grace upon grace,” (John 1:16).

“It was an outstanding service to see everyone join in Christian fellowship. Thanks be to God for Dr. Poe inviting all of the surrounding churches to join in this wonderful event,” explained Bill Wheeler from the New Providence United Methodist Church who took part in the Christmas program.

Adult Sunday School 10:00 AM
Worhip Service 11:00 AM
Church Wide Bible Study 6:30 PM

Bethel UMC
3180 Fort Campbell Blvd.
Clarksville, TN 37042
(931) 431-5758
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