Christmas After Lockdown
The last year and nine months has been, and continues to be, a long, strange, whirlwind of constant changes, news stories, changes, adaptations, and continued hope for a return to something approaching the “normal” that we remember. Because of the threat of the coronavirus, and the statewide lockdown, we were unable to meet in person for Christmas Eve and so we did the best that we could to “meet” one another virtually. Due to the hard work of our church staff and volunteers, and the amazing video editing of Bob Wallace, we produced a Christmas Eve video that I think surpassed almost any other similar attempt.
But as good as it was, it just wasn’t the same.
No matter how well we celebrated the arrival of the Christ child individually, there was still something missing. Christmas wasn’t the same without being together.
Families are like that. When we are apart, we can mail our gifts to one another, but it isn’t the same as being together. In fact, for many of us, giving and receiving gifts has lost the urgency and the sparkle that it had when we were children. What’s important, and treasured, now is just being together, seeing one another, sharing our stories and our lives, and just spending time together.
And Christmas Eve is all of that, and more. Because the Spirit of God dwells within each one of us as the followers of Jesus, when we are together, we feel the presence, not only of other people, but also the presence of God himself. That’s true every Sunday, and any time that we meet in groups that are large or small, but if you are like me, we feel that sensation of closeness to God most keenly only a few times each year and one of those times is on Christmas Eve.
This year, many of us will, once again, meet together, in person, for Christmas Eve, but we will also be livestreaming that worship service for anyone who is unable to attend or who still feels uncomfortable being around a crowd of people. Rest assured, however, that we continue to encourage mask wear for everyone in attendance and remember that there is ample room to find seats with plenty of “social distance” between you and others. In fact, if this year looks like others in recent history, you can probably have the balcony all to yourself.
But, whichever, option you choose, I hope that you will join us. Moreover, I hope that each one of you will invite at least five others to join us. Christmas Eve is easily one of the most attended worship services of the year in almost every church in North America and, for that reason, is a time when friends are most willing to accept an invitation to attend.
Christmas Eve and Christmas are a time when we draw close to one another, and draw close to God, in a way that is both special and memorable not just because of the people, but because it is a time when we encounter the Spirit of God in a special way. Of course, we will share the extraordinary experience of hearing our choirs, bell choirs, pipe organ, and singing traditional and meaningful carols of Christmas together. But most importantly, we will remember the story of God’s invasion of the earth and the arrival of the Christ child, who would become the rescuer and redeemer of all humanity.
I hope that you will join us as we draw closer one another, and closer to God, together.
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