DECEMBER 5, 2020 SATURDAY
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. — Isaiah 9:2
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Today, I share something I found interesting recently – from another liturgical church family. It seems liturgical Scrooges are all over. Their publication’s editorial prepares the way if so inclined, to jump the gun on Christmas this year, relaxing their usual position in an atypical year.
Long ago in Baptist-land, where I pastored “liturgically” oriented churches, hymnals lack the rich Advent hymns and carols we enjoy. Early in Advent our music directors selected some Christmas hymns and carols for services. We attracted Lutherans, Episcopalians, and others who couldn’t hold Christmas hymnody back until Christmas Eve. Visitors swelled our ranks in Advent.
Advent is a distinct season. I tried my best to make it that way — lighting an Advent Wreath each Sunday, included. I doubt many of our people adhered to keeping Advent strictly at home – waiting until Christmas Eve -beginning Christmas then, lasting until Epiphany – 12 actual days. Advent is its own season, distinct and important — not to be rushed, but savored – waiting, hoping, preparing — meditating both on Jesus’ birth and Christ’s reappearing.
The editorial rescinds their support this year of those who decry the rush into Christmas carols — holding back decorating the home. Go ahead, turn on the lights – sing some carols. This season is different. We need some of the joyful festivity now – ahead of the Twelve Days of Christmas we observe. Christmas this year will be hard enough as it is – warnings to make Christmas more virtual than present – not to gather with those beyond your household. Too many empty chairs will be set around tables on Christmas Eve/Day. Who knows what the health implications will be for those who survive COVID? This year we are those people walking about in darkness, awaiting a different time of great light.
Our plans as of now – we’ll record the Christmas Eve Service early in Christmas week – to be available by Christmas Eve afternoon on the church Youtube link. We also will offer a “drive-by” opportunity. You can receive Eucharist, in individual cups to take home — or to drop off safely for others in our parish who couldn’t be here to get it. The sacrament will be blessed at the Eucharist as we record the Christmas Eve/Day service. We encourage you to watch and participate at home in the Spirit of God’s loving presence with us, together. The service will be available on Christmas Day.
May the joy we know as we await Christmas Eve night fill us with hope even now, in this difficult year. Always remember, we are people who walk in light – Christ’s – the light of the world, through this present darkness.Blessings, peace, and God’s love holding you this day – Fr. Steve