225-766-4594     230 Renee' Drive   Sunday Worship at 8:30 & 11 a.m. and Sunday School at 9:45 a.m.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. —John 1:1,2,14 NIV

One Christmas, I traveled to Dallas to meet with friends who were celebrating a “Friendsmas.” At this gathering were seminarians and a homeless man they had befriended. He asked for a shower, and received toiletries and clean clothes to wear while his clothes were washed! At dinner, with tears in his eyes he said, “Wow, I feel like a new man and I am so thankful for what y’all just did for me. You have no idea how much this means.” I was overwhelmed to see that actions done out of love and compassion were received with such humility. This was truly a welcoming moment; though none of us knew how the night would go, God’s Holy Spirit was very present throughout the evening.

As I reflect on this John text, it speaks of how the word of God became human flesh, through Christ Jesus. Christmas is a joyful time, a time when we celebrate that word being made flesh with the birth of a child so small and humble. It’s that sense of humility that makes me think of our neighbors in The Shepherd’s Market who come humbly to receive. Many come who are physically hungry but they come spiritually hungry as well. What do our neighbors see in the faces and actions of The Shepherd’s Market volunteers who are serving them? Like that humble birth so long ago, God’s presence continues to find us in the ordinary places of our lives; time spent with loved ones and in acts of compassion and care to our neighbors.

Oh Holy one, Holy three, we celebrate the birth of your son today. We celebrate how his entrance into the world made your presence become flesh incarnate. May we continue to celebrate how you walk with us, and are there present in the spaces of our lives before we ever are. Amen.

Pastor Julia Puac-Romero

So welcome each other, in the same way that Christ also welcomed you, for God’s glory. Romans 15:7 (CEB)

During one of Kaye’s final “alert days,” I took communion over to her house. I knew this visit would be one of our last. It was a sacred time—shared in a sacred place—her home. 

As she slowly walked me out, I noticed her nativity set, complete with 12-inch tall figurines, set up by the front door on its own table. It seemed a little unusual because it was the middle of the summer!

I commented to her how beautiful it was. She said Christmas was her favorite holiday so she liked to keep it all year. As I turned to say goodbye, she said, “I want to make sure every day I’ve got left feels like Christmas.”

As I stood in the doorway where Kaye and her husband, James, welcome people into their home—I was reminded of the fullness of life—the goodness of God’s great love for us—that we experience in the Christ child. Yes, it’s Christmas everyday when we experience the miracle of birth alongside the mystery of death with dear loved ones in our lives.  

It’s Christmas every day when we, like…

  • Joseph, willingly accept the challenges that life poses. 
  • Mary, say, “Let it be. Let it be according to Your will, O God.” 
  • the angels, bring good news of God’s love to the world.
  • the innkeeper, offer welcome to our neighbors.
  • the shepherds, share the love we experience at the manger with everyone we meet.
  • the wise men, bow before God bringing these gifts to the Prince of Peace—offering our best—our lives—in his service. 

May Hope, Peace, Joy and Love abound in your hearts and lives, as together we experience the Living Christ, not only this day, but each day, forevermore.

Emmanuel, God with us, we celebrate your presence this day. Open our eyes to your miracles each day. Thank you for accepting and welcoming us. Amen.

Pastor Lane Cotton Winn

Home Worship & Advent Wreath Reading*
Christmas Eve/Christmas Day

Lighting the Christ Candle

Read: John 1:1-5

Light: We offer the following reading as you light the four Advent candles and Christ Candle on your Advent wreath. If you do not have an Advent wreath, we invite you to light a candle, in honor of the Christ Child that is born again in our hearts and lives this Christmas.

The day has finally come! As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we light the Christ candle, signifying the Light of Christ has come into the world. The candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love are lit, too. In lighting these candles, we remember Jesus’ presence with us now—Emmanuel—God is with us. 

(Light the first, second, third, and fourth candles. Light the center white candle.)

Reflect: When we look at the center candle, we remember that God sent Jesus to give hope, peace, joy and love to all people. Outside of Bethlehem, the shepherds saw a great light and heard the voices of angels. They traveled to the manger and were welcomed in as the first guests to see the baby Jesus.

Far away from Bethlehem, magi saw a star in the sky. They followed the star and were filled with joy when they found Jesus. They remind us that the gift of Jesus was not just for the people in one place but for all people. All are welcome to worship the newborn king and to follow in his pathway of light. 

It’s amazing to think of these persistent travelers who were determined to find Jesus. They traveled with hope and faith in the promise that they would find the new king. Who are the people in our world who need to know of God’s promises?

What are our hopes on this day for our world?

Pray: Dear God, Thank you for your son, Jesus and the welcome you extend to all people and places. This Christmas, help us remember and rejoice again because Jesus was born. May we live every day remembering your loving care and warm welcome and showing that loving care and welcome to others. Amen.

Respond: Name one thing you are willing to do in the days following Christmas that will help you and others remember God’s promises.

*Adapted from UMC Discipleship Ministries 2017 Advent Home Worship

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” —Matthew 18:20

Our traditional family Christmas was not to be that year! Even grown children have expectations that their parents will keep the home fires burning and maintain traditions, don’t they? My stable parents had shocked the family by moving from our small Southern hometown to Orange, California. A few months after the big move, my husband, our two small children and I accepted the invitation to spend Christmas in California.

In our hometown, we had always attended the Christmas Eve candlelight service in the lovely old Methodist church. Although my parents had not yet found a California church home, my mom was determined we would all be in church on Christmas Eve. Soon, we were piled into the car, Dad driving and Mom directing. Stops at a couple of churches proved unfruitful, either no service or a midnight service. Grumbling began from the back seat with, “Shouldn’t we go back home?” Mom insisted we forge ahead! 

It was getting dark when we happened upon a Lutheran church. We got out and followed a crowd into a big basketball gym with rows of folding metal chairs. The crowd grew quiet when a striking woman with a familiar face stood and began to belt out a carol. In a moment of insight, we recognized her as a soap opera star! The next soloist was a small boy singing “Away in a Manger” a bit off key and an octave too high. At this point, my composure snapped, and I began to giggle uncontrollably, but silently. Fortunately, my undignified behavior was witnessed only by my family. All in all, the service was lovely, and we were invited back by many kind folks. Our California Christmas reminded us that the welcoming spirit of Christmas is not dependent on tradition or place, but on Christ’s presence evident in a community of believers.

Dear Lord, please give us open minds and hearts to know your presence in all places and situations. Amen.

Mary Martha Allen

Where is he who is born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. —Matthew 2:2

For 11-year-old Caroline and her younger brother Tom the days before Christmas seemed to be lasting forever. One afternoon while they were watching television, Dad brought them a surprise. It was an ordinary looking little plant in a small clay pot. 

“It’s a Christmas rose,” he said. “There’s a legend about it. Long ago, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, many people brought him gifts. One little girl wanted to give a gift to the baby, too, but her family was so poor she had nothing to take. She was so sad she began to cry. Where her tears fell on the ground, a plant grew up and on the plant a beautiful white flower bloomed. This plant became the girl’s gift to the Christ Child, and its flower was the first Christmas rose. If you two take good care of this plant, I think it will bloom by Christmas morning.” 

Tom and Caroline agreed to watch over the Christmas rose. At first things did not go well. It was difficult for the two to work together. But as the plant grew and put out new leaves, the children became more and more interested in caring for it. 

At last it was Christmas Eve. The plant had almost doubled in size and a bud had appeared at the tip of a stem. Tom and Caroline were excited. They determined to stay up through the night and watch the bud open. More than once they almost drifted to sleep. Not long before dawn, the bud opened. The children saw a beautiful Christmas rose. 

Later that morning in church, Caroline and Tom placed the rose on the altar. It was their gift to welcome the newborn Christ Child.

Lord, help us to open our hearts and welcome you in once again. Teach us your ways.

Guy Johnson

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. —Luke 2:6-7

Can you imagine how Mary felt when baby Jesus was laid in her arms on that cold lonely night?

Thirty-two years ago a baby was put into my arms. After years of trying to start a family followed by several years of missteps in the adoption process, my husband and I were finally going to receive a baby. We were overwhelmed with gratitude that our fervent and constant prayers were being answered. We were also terrified, as most new parents must be, at the magnitude of the responsibility we were taking on.

We had waited years. Then we had waited three days since the baby’s birth. Now we found ourselves waiting endless hours to actually receive our baby boy. Those hours crawled by, filled in turn with anxiety, excitement and fear.

Finally Ms. Georgia was there, carrying a little blanket-wrapped bundle. I couldn’t believe it was happening. She placed the baby in my arms and I felt the blessings of God’s holy universe descend on me. A warmth enveloped the top of my head and slowly flowed down my torso to my toes. It felt like every atom in my body was vibrating with an indescribable love.

For Mary, an angel promised a baby boy, the son of God. Surely through the months of waiting Mary felt anxiety. Holding that little cloth-wrapped infant for the first time must have been profoundly overwhelming. Just imagine the divine love that enveloped her at that moment!

And the angels sang!

God of unfathomable love, prepare our hearts in this season of Advent to welcome once again the birth of the Christ Child. Open us to the mystery of Emmanuel, God With Us, so that we can feel your all-abiding presence in every facet of our lives. Amen.

Betty Schroeder 

They saw Mary, his mother, and fell down and worshiped him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. —Matthew 2:11

When Goudchaux fashioned a window display for Christmas 1957, my father took us to see Santa Claus. This Santa Claus patted his knee and belly laughed. His laughter was infectious. Mr. Bingle, the Goudchaux snowman and several of Santa’s elves displayed all the children’s favorite toys—new buxom Barbies, Ken, Tonka trucks, Hula hoops, pogo sticks, baby dolls, tea sets, chemistry sets, a peg pounding tablet, a nurse’s kit, basketballs, tennis rackets, baseball bats, western hats and gun holsters, Howdie Doodie dolls. 

My father had a mission in taking us to see the window display. As with every good father, he aspired to find just the right Christmas present that would please each child. In post-World War II, he went to LSU on the GI Bill and became a lawyer. After the first hard years of eating potato soup and paying off a huge medical bill, he finally had money to spend on Christmas and this would be the BEST CHRISTMAS ever. It would make up for all those hard times. Poverty was an old friend. He remembered his letter to his father, written when he was in a Catholic orphanage in North Carolina in 1929. He dearly wanted a Bible. Could his father in Louisiana send him a Bible? But Grandpa Austin had a new family and new children. Cameron, La., was a harsh place to raise cattle and a family. There would be no Bible that year.

When Christmas 1957 came, my twin sister Sharon and I received our chemistry sets, nurses kits and Barbie dolls. Martha got tea sets, baby dolls and doll clothes. Junior got Tonka trucks and a cowboy hat with vest, gun and holster. We were all thrilled with our gifts. But most special of all: on the table there were Bibles inscribed to each of us from our father. I did not know then how much the Bibles meant to Daddy. It was after he and Mama died that I found that letter to Grandpa Austin. And I will cherish the gift of the Bible and the gift of his love of Jesus. 

What special gift will you give this year?

Father, Thank you for all the gifts you have given to us: especially the gift of your son, Jesus, born during this Christmas season. We are so grateful for our time, talents, compassion and necessities. We ask that we become generous givers during this Christmas season. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Grandy Sandy Davis 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. And an angel of God appeared to them and the glory of God shone on them and they became very afraid. But, the angel said to them “Do not be afraid! I bring you good news of great joy, that will be for ALL the people” —Luke 2: 8,9 (NIV)

I can imagine the shepherds that night, perhaps sitting chatting by a fire at the end of the evening. They must have felt at home in their place of work, comfortable in the routine of one more evening of the same old routine. 

God, I believe, often breaks into our places of routine and comfort. His surprise may come in the birth of a child, the death of a friend or a great flood. It is interesting to see in Scripture that the appearance of angels does not in itself always result in fear. I wonder what it was about these angels that frightened the shepherds? 

Change by itself is not necessarily frightening, but I think it is the surprise of moving out and away from the familiar. Our routine may feel like the welcome place, but often it is the extraordinary miracles of life that bring us to a new place of welcome.

Gracious God of surprise, may we be attentive this Advent season to the new ways you draw us to yourself. May the places of surprise in our lives lead us to see the gift of new life you offer us.

Deirdré Halliburton

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” —Matthew 6:34

One year was very financially hard for us. It was close to Christmas, and we knew we would not be able to give our two daughters gifts as the year before. We called a family meeting in the kitchen in order to explain to our 10- and 8-year-old daughters.

I promised them that we would try and make this an eventful Christmas if nothing else. The girls were very understanding and told us not to worry. The first thing we did was to wrap boxes that had a strip of paper with a prayer or scripture written on it that they had picked out. I did not want a barren Christmas tree. That would have been sad.

We made things by hand, construction paper chains and other handmade ornaments and bows. Through our home church we found of a need for delicately used toys for homeless children. We went through their toys, they each picked out what they no longer used, and we wrapped them and brought them to church. The girls had a lot of fun doing this. We did things with fruit and homemade pastries. We sewed things from outgrown clothes to give away. We were blessed that we had food.

This poor Christmas turned out to be the best Christmas ever; our girls, now 51 and 49, still bring up these memories during the Holidays.

This special Christmas taught us all that gifts are better given than received and a much better understanding of that statement. We always kept Christ in Christmas, but this year was especially dear to us.

Dear Lord our Savior, we so often get caught up in the moment of Christmas that we forget the real meaning of why you were born. You give us so much to be thankful for. Help us realize that you came as a gift to us and that is the only gift we will ever need. We worship your HOLY NAME. Amen.

Kathleen Adams

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” —Matthew 18: 3

Do you remember standing on tiptoe to be able to see the freshly baked cookies cooling on the counter? Perhaps you have stood on tiptoe to watch a magical window display of a tiny train chugging its way through a miniature snow-covered village. Or maybe you have stood on tiptoe to peer into a box of endearing, fluffy puppies. 

We stand on tiptoe in anticipation and excitement. We stand on tiptoe with the hope of seeing something wonderful, something that brings joy, something that brings fulfillment of expectation.

Advent is a season of anticipation, a season of longing. It is a time when we find ourselves cautiously watchful. We seek to fill that spot in our hearts that somehow reaches out to the mystery of the divine. In the timelessness of eternity we long once again for the coming of the Messiah. Our hearts ache for a Christmas peace that will envelope the globe, a peace that will shatter prejudice and hatred and banish war.

Our society and traditions will surely call us to all manner of celebratory activities and frenetic preparations for the holiday season – shopping for gifts, decorating the house, attending parties and concerts. But let’s remember, every day, to stand under the stars, to peer into the darkness, to be present to the holy mystery of the promise of Advent. 

Stand on tiptoe! You might hear a heavenly choir or feel the brush of an angel’s wings.

O God of promise, in this season of waiting, help us rediscover in ourselves the simple joy and enthusiasm of a child as we once again await the coming of the promised Messiah. Amen.

Betty Schroeder 

Home Worship & Advent Wreath Reading*
Week 4

Welcome Wholeness

Read: Psalm 89:1-4

Light: We offer the following reading as you light the four candles on your Advent wreath. If you do not have an Advent wreath, we invite you to light a candle, reminding you how God expresses great love for us by sending Jesus to the world.

This is the fourth Sunday in Advent, and today we light the candle of Love, along with Hope, Joy and Peace. May we remember again God‘s gift of Jesus to the world and know that God’s love for all people is the reason for this gift. 

(Light the first, second, third and fourth Advent Candles)

Reflect: The essence of Christmas is love, God’s incredible love for us, expressed when God sent Christ into the world to offer of the gift of wholeness and everlasting life. Whenever and wherever we receive God’s sacrificial love, whenever and wherever we pass it on to others, whenever and wherever God’s love is accepted and shared, Christmas comes once again. What greater love is there? Through Christ, God restores our sense of wholeness and offers us new life.

Pray: Dear God, thank you for the gift of love. May I share this gift with others and learn how to love unconditionally. Help me during the Christmas season to practice love in action with family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. Amen.

Respond: As we get ready to celebrate again the birth of Jesus, we sometimes get very busy. Today, take a ten-minute break. Sit quietly. If it helps you to concentrate, look at your Advent wreath. Pray, asking God’s help to bring wholeness and peace to your heart.

* Adapted from UMC Discipleship Ministries 2017 Advent Home Worship


Posted on Saturday, December 16, 2017 

I sought the LORD and he answered me. He delivered me from all my fears. —Psalm 34:4 (CEB)

If we’ve worked together on any project you know I’m a perfectionist. I also really like things done my way. This applies to pretty much every aspect of my life (except maybe house cleaning … but that’s another story). I put a lot of time and emotional energy into ensuring my family’s life runs smoothly and my girls have fun activities and enriching experiences.

So when something comes along to muck up my carefully planned schedule, it is UNWELCOME.

Jane’s broken arm a week and a half before her sixth birthday, a week before her long-planned trampoline birthday party: UNWELCOME. 

But there’s room for unwelcome, even in such an ordeal. We were given the gift of more down time and more snuggles. We had an even more fun party without the risk to her arm and a very happy birthday girl. And we gained an appreciation of our family’s health, knowing we could return to life-as-we-know-it in a few months’ time despite the setback. 

While I will never welcome an injury to either daughter, I can reflect on the good to come out of even bummer situations.

Father, give us eyes to see the blessings even in the unwelcome events that come our way. Help us make space in our hearts for you as we continue our Advent journey this year. Amen.

Mari Walker


  Be Welcomed. Be Loved.

We are a Christian community called to share our gifts through worship, witness and service so that others will know God and become disciples of Jesus Christ.


Sunday worship at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Sunday school at 9:45 a.m.

 Contact Us
St. John's United Methodist Church

(Note New Mailing Address)
230 Renee' Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70810

  Phone : 225-766-4594
  Email :
  Office hours : Mon-Thurs, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
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