The Covid-19 Pandemic continues to impact our lives in many and various ways across the territory of NT-NL. It is also clear that this pandemic will continue to be a part of our lives through the end of 2020 and into 2021. As a result I have had questions from many of you as you continue to learn and modify preparations for Advent and Christmas. What is most obvious is that there is no way to make worship this Christmas “feel” the way Christmas has in the past. Even if you worship in person the requirements of social distance, masks, muffled or no singing, will impact the experience. You could spend a lot of energy trying to recreate that experience and inevitably fall short, or you can practice adaptive leadership and lean into how to make Advent/Christmas of 2020 one that is in future years remembered fondly because it was NOT like other years…
1. Advent is to be a season of preparations. 2020 provides us an excellent opportunity to focus on Advent and developing faith practices in the home. Provide families the supplies to make simple at home advent wreaths. Provide them access to daily devotionals online or connect via Facebook Live or Instagram story. Have musicians record and share Advent hymns and the scripture texts behind them. Do the Las Posadas or the stations of the Nativity in your home or outside at church. Participate in an outdoor, masked, procession of the Virgin of Guadalupe with one of our Conferencia Latina congregations. Teach the stories of St. Nicholaus and Santa Lucia.
2. As mentioned above, even if you are worshipping indoors at this time it will not be the same Christmas Eve experience. So learn and modify. For those doing online worship have a small group provide that traditional service for those worshipping online. But then move outdoors for a socially distanced, masked carol sing, and candle lighting (weather permitting). Do something new like an outdoor manger scene or outdoor Christmas tree to witness to your community the church is celebrating. If you are in an urban setting do a neighborhood walk of the stations of the Nativity (mentioned above). For those who are home alone the congregation members could deliver cookies or Christmas treats with contactless delivery and preparation. The more technologically savvy can also offer a Zoom gathering time to provide needed fellowship during this season. Emphasize the 12 days of the Christmas season with different online devotions or activities.
3. To assist our leaders I will again be recording sermons that can be utilized by our congregations. I will provide both a sermon for the Nativity of our Lord (utilizing the John texts) that could be used on Christmas Eve or Day as well as a sermon for the Sunday after Christmas (Dec. 27th). These sermons will be posted by December 10th. It is my goal with these offerings to again provide respite and assistance to our leaders in this time.
No matter how hard we might try there is no way to make Christmas 2020 feel the way other Christmas celebrations have. And owning that truth should set us free to be creative and adaptive in our preparations. I have great trust that the leadership of our NT-NL congregations will continue to make wise and faithful decisions that enable our communities to celebrate the incarnation of God among us in away that serves and loves our neighbor and keeps them and us safe.