How will We Celebrate Christmas During the Pandemic?
I have been wondering and I’ll bet you have, too, how will we do Christmas during the pandemic? In a year where everything is different and changing, how should we handle our church’s holiday events?
We love the traditions that come with Christmas. That is why we do them every year. They draw us closer to God and to each other. But this year we have to figure out how to do the holidays with a pandemic virus which has added itself to everyone’s guest list.
We need to see this as a faith opportunity to step up and love one another well: especially because Christmas is going to be very different this year and so it will be distressing for many of us.
There are many problems facing the church as we plan for holiday events during COVID. Let’s start by getting some of these holiday “during-a-pandemic” problems out on the table for everyone to see.
1. We are attempting to keep track of an ever-moving target.
No one is sure what the next few weeks and months will bring. Will the virus continue to spike or begin to fade? Will people be getting sick again or will they just get sick of all the changing COVID precautions? There is lots of guessing going on, but no one really knows for sure. And there is the problem with any planning for Christmas events. Because we do not know what changes tomorrow might bring we must plan for unknow alternatives and it is a very difficult task, especially when lives may be endangered by decisions.
2. Everyone has their own perspective on COVID-19 safety and personal levels of comfort when it comes to being out and gathering.
Some are more open; others are more protective. Most are finding it hard to understand so many differing and confusing medical opinions. Still, we must each make decisions regarding personal safety perspectives. Now then, which perspectives are valid? No one really knows. So, we must choose as wisely as we can to secure safety for ourselves and our loved ones.
That also means we will be disagreeing with others, and that is OK, so long as we are not fighting to be right with those who do not share our personal perspectives. Grace to live with our different opinions is essential in these circumstances.
Many of us have health concerns that make COVID more dangerous, and many are related to someone they want to protect. Some regions of the country are more restricted and getting crazier about gatherings, even gatherings for holiday dinners.
Other parts of the country, and the world, are starting to resemble normal.
Planning holiday church events when everyone is all over the place and opinions so widely varied will make it impossible to please everyone. It will require caution to plan and conduct any Christmas service this year and safety for all must be the final goal of every decision.
Please remember, good people are trying very hard find ways to do what is right and pleasing to God while at the same time protecting the health and well-fare of all who desire to faithfully worship Him.
3. Traditional Christmas Services, in light of Government seating capacity restrictions, are far too crowded to be workable this year.
Christmas is a traditional Family gathering season. Families come together from all over the map and we cherish those gatherings that bring our distant family members close again. But in a pandemic like COVID, close is the problem.
Squeezing people into a worship space will have to be re-imagined this year, and again there will be disappointment because in our hearts we long for our traditional and cherished Christmas gatherings which now simply can’t be done as we have always done things.
The church is re-thinking and re-designing all of our worship events to provide for the safety of all to the best of our ability. Be assured it will include masks and social distancing. And we will endeavor to stay current with the changes set in place by our governor and bishop as they are made known.
4. I cannot emphasize this enough. Many will feel disappointed that the Christmas Holiday traditions we have always enjoyed together will be changed or cancelled this year.
I cannot imagine that there will not be some disappointment this Christmas season to affect everyone. Many are already feeling it. But then, this has been a year of disappointments and change from our normal routines and we are faithfully facing them.
These verses from Paul’s letter to the Romans come to mind as we are called on now, to be kind, gracious, and supportive of one another in this season of continuing frustration, disappointment, and pains.
Paul writes, … Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that He has given to us.
Be assured, God will use even our earthly disappointments this Christmas to build endurance, character, and hope in us.
Finally, pray for one another. Be kind and gracious to one another. Let love, mercy, and peace abound in all things, and the God of Joy and Blessings will keep us in His Grace.
Merry Christmas to all, and Peace.