No Children’s Christmas pageant at church. No live Advent Lessons and Carols in worship. No Christmas caroling in the neighborhood. No jam-packed Christmas Eve candlelight services in the church. The coronavirus once again will prevent Christians from gathering in churches to sing and celebrate a high holy day as at Easter. This time it keeps us from celebrating and singing the carols of Christ’s birth we traditionally and faithfully do each year on Christmas Eve. Yet, while it will not be the same, the celebration of Christmas still comes. If the gifts aren’t all wrapped – Christmas still comes. If the cards haven’t all been signed and sent – Christmas still comes. If the cookies weren’t all made or the store was out of a key ingredient for the dinner – Christmas still comes. If the extended family cannot gather in one home around a crowded table as we traditionally do (which for some families relieves them from having to visit two to three different homes in one day) – Christmas still comes. If we cannot sit in church to hear the Nativity of our Lord read, sing with hundreds of voices the carols of Christmas, or receive the host of Christ with the host of Christ’s church gathered for Christmas Eve worship – Christmas still comes. The celebration of God’s love for us made manifest in the babe born in Bethlehem, God becoming flesh and dwelling among us, still comes regardless of the limitations and restrictions this pandemic has inflicted upon us.
So the question that remains for us is this; “How will we uniquely celebrate the birth of Christ this year with worship in our home?” Our Savior’s worship staff will be preparing a Christmas Eve candlelight worship recording that will be available by noon on Christmas Eve for anyone with internet access to participate in from their home from our Facebook page. We will also provide a link from our website for those who don’t have Facebook. We will also do our best to make DVD copies for members without internet to watch from their DVD players at home. And because this will not be a livestreamed worship we will not be celebrating Holy Communion. Here are some ideas you might consider in celebrating Christ’s birth as you worship from home this year.
- Determine in your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day plans when you will celebrate the Nativity in worship. Just like any year, plan what time you will worship.
- Host a “Watch Party” on your Facebook page if you are able. You might also invite family and friends to worship with you from their home knowing that as you are singing the carols of Christmas in your home so too are the people you normally are sitting in the pew with on Christmas Eve.
- Dress up as you would for attending worship on Christmas Eve at church. It’s a special night. Why not dress for the occasion?
- If you can link your computer to your TV screen so the image is larger you may have a better sense of “being in church” even though you’re at home. The sound will also be better.
- Get the worship materials you’ll need such as candles for singing Silent Night.
- The words to the carols will be on the screen so you won’t need a worship book or even a bulletin.
- Finally, and actually a week before December 24, we invite you to send a few second video clip of your family wishing Merry Christmas to those who will be watching. Consider it your sharing of the Christmas Peace video we can combine with all those provided in a montage of greetings before the worship and possibly during the Peace.
Yes, this will be a Christmas like none other, but it will still come. Jesus wasn’t born into a serene and idyllic world; an occupied nation, no room for lodging, a stable birth and a manger crib, not to mention a massacre of the innocents after his birth was known. Yet, Jesus still came down to live among us to bear witness to the hope and love and life our God provides to all who trust and have faith. And Jesus still comes to us each and every day, despite a pandemic that would keep us apart, and draws us together as the body of Christ to shine the light of hope at Christmas. Let it shine brightly in your homes this year as we sing from our living rooms, family rooms, or dining rooms that Christ is born to save. Merry Christmas.