Sunday, April 2, 2023

Finding the Real Christmas Today with Rev. Eddie Willis

This is an Oxonian Christmas story. Reverend Eddie Willis is an born and raised Oxonian who moved back to his hometown five years ago. Now a husband and father to four children he is the director of Wesley Foundation campus ministry, the same student outreach he attended as a student at University of Mississippi twenty-some odd years ago.
“After being gone for 20 years, it’s great to be back in my hometown.” Rev. Willis said, “My family and I enjoy being involved in the Oxford community.”
Rev. Willis had recently wrapped up serving dinner to university students to help them get through the finals week. He has not taken a work break, however; he also is preaching about the Advent season at United Methodist in Taylor while the church is in between pastors. Rev. Willis was asked to preach for five Sundays which he discovered “fell perfectly” on the Sundays of Advent.
“Loving the Taylor community and its people I jumped at the chance,” said Rev. Willis.

Children decorate the tree at United Methodist in Taylor, Miss.
Children decorate the tree at United Methodist in Taylor, Miss.

His sermons’ theme is “Finding the Real Christmas,” looking at different aspects and characters of the Christmas story. Last Sunday he preached about how God has used children and the small things of life to make radical changes in the world.
“When I think about Christmas I think about God sending his son, the gift of a little baby.” Rev. Willis said, “I think of God’s sacrifice in sending his son for us and how this is such a tender time of a family, a baby, and those that recognized a shift in humanity. God uses small things that make the largest changes.”

This theme may have come from his childhood in Oxford. He described Christmas in Oxford in the 1980s as “quaint.” Rev. Willis said, “The town wasn’t as big as it is now. We didn’t have horses around the Square.”
Now he shares his lessons of Christmas with the attendees of Taylor United Methodist Church as well as with his own children. Rev. Willis said, “For my wife and I we try to give our children experiences of giving to others and taking the focus off of ourselves. If we are paying attention to the story of ‘baby Jesus,’ it is us bringing gifts to Christ – not us receiving gifts as we’ve been taught by society.”
Remembering how the Wesley Foundation had been his home away from home when he was a university student, Rev. Willis has given back in his life — from looking after the university students during the finals week, to sharing the true size and meaning of Christmas in his preaching in a town neighboring his hometown.
Callie Daniels is the staff reporter for She can be reached here at If you have an Oxonian Christmas story, please feel free to share!