Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2012, 11:40 pm

Three-part Christmas program triples the fun

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By Leon Lagerstam, llagerstam@qconline.com

Photo:
John Stanley portrays a character named Audace and Rachel Ellicott, cast as Hopeful rehearse a scene from a 'God with Us' Christmas program, to be performed at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 8, and at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at Wildwood Church, 18717 Hubbard Road, East Moline. Refreshments will be served after performances. For information, call the church at (309) 496-9397, or visit www.wildwoodchurch.com.
EAST MOLINE -- The Holy Trinity, Wise Men, and a Wildwood Church's "God With Us" Christmas program shows good things often come in threes.

Wildwood's holiday program will be ''one part music, one part drama and one part of actual stories told by people from our church community," worship pastor Matt Faulkner said. ''The theme hones in on how a lot of people are hurting from the economy or tough times, but how there's still hope and how God is still present and active in our lives.''

Wildwood has borrowed the program from Willow Creek Community Church, a nondenominational, multigenerational Evangelical Christian ''megachurch'' in the Chicago suburb of South Barrington.

Wildwood's "Imagine Christmas" program last year was inspired by an earlier Willow Creek production, Mr. Faulkner said, adding "God With Us" is designed as a follow-up piece.

"It's a theme that has been in our hearts for a while, and captures all that our whole creative team was looking for,'' Mr. Faulkner said. "Last year's 'Imagine Christmas' was completely about entertaining, but this year's program is designed to be a hope-filled production featuring real stories from real people."

Free "God With Us'' presentations will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 8, and at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at the church, at 18717 Hubbard Road, East Moline.

Refreshments will be served after performances. For information, call the church at (309) 496-9397, or visit wildwoodchurch.com.

The musical portion of the program will feature traditional Christmas music, modern song arrangements, solo pieces and an audience-participation component, Mr. Faulkner said.

"As far as the drama portion, it will have a storybook feel," he said. "It will tell a story about a town years ago that lost all hope and tried to find it again, through the help of a little girl.''

Testimonies from select church members will look at how hope and prayers have helped offset the stress and "busyness" of life, Mr. Faulkner said.

He realizes it's a busy time of the year, and that life gets no simpler for anyone, but encourages people to put attending a "God with Us" performance at Wildwood on their holiday to-do list.

"Despite the bright lights, presents and parties Christmas brings, people are still searching and longing for a true and everlasting hope," he said. "In uncertain and difficult times, 'God with Us' reminds us that Emanuel has come and He is very present and active in our lives today.

"If people take the time to come see our show, they won't just be observing something," Mr. Faulkner said. ''They will be part of something."