WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — It’s Christmas Eve, and while many prepare to celebrate Christmas in less than 24 hours, faith leaders in Wichita Falls are encouraging the community to continue to keep the faith as 2020 winds down.
As many celebrate Christmas the way they know-how, some faith leaders like New Jerusalem Baptist Church Senior Pastor Rev. Angus Thompson said despite a tumultuous year they urge the community to keep the faith.
“This will not last forever,” Rev. Thompsom said. “I tell our people that we are going to take advantage of everything that’s available to us that we might be able to at least move from this situation where we can embrace once again and rejoice once again.”
Both Pastor John McLarty with the First United Methodist Church and Lead Pastor of Evangel Temple Patti Bateman agree.
“Even in a pandemic, God is with us,” Pastor McLarty said. “Meaning that is the story of Christmas is Jesus coming into the world and to remind us of God’s presence.”
“Our hope is in Christ and in what he brought for us and we have the assurance that’s greater that he loves us, that he cares for us,” Pastor Bateman said.
Folks across the country said they are ready to close the chapter on 2020 and turn over a new leaf but Bob McCartney, senior pastor at First Baptist Church, urged everyone to slow down.
“There’s racial tension, there’s political tension, there is tension between nations, the tension between neighbors about, ‘should we wear one of these’, ‘should we take them off’, all those tensions he came to be the Prince of Peace so let’s remember Christmas before we fast forward to the new year our hope isn’t in a new year. Our hope is in a living savior,” Pastor McCartney said.
Pastor Bateman emphasized that no one is immune to the fact that we can be living in the best of times and the worst of times at once.
“If Christmas teaches us anything it teaches us that God is in charge of history and he sets things right,” Pastor Bateman said. “We try to think that we have to make things right or that we are in charge of things and we try to put our confidence in things like presidents and governments and elected leaders and our comfort zones and the things we think we can control but God is the one who sets things right.”
Pastor McCartney encouraged people to not just look back at the losses of 2020 but to look at the things worth being thankful for, something he said he has done in his own family.
“We look back on 2020 and say, ‘You know what? there were some really bad things that happened, a lot of people lost things, a lot of people lost jobs, loved ones.’ But many of us have blessings that we can look back on as well,” Pastor McCartney said.
“We’ll have some challenges in 2021, but if we can learn from the things that we have experienced this past year and grow from that going into this new year, I think we can come out better for it,” Pastor McLarty said.
And as we all prepare to celebrate this day with our own individual customs and beliefs, these community leaders hope everyone will take away something positive from what they’ve shared and apply not just in this season but to their lives.
“The Lord is with us and I want our people to maintain that faith and that hope in him not in man,” Rev. Thompson said.
All churches mentioned will have Christmas celebrations. Look below to find more about those events.