Worshiping during Advent and Christmas 2020
- how to be safe and joyous together (even if we are separate)
As 2020 heads towards the holiday season, there are questions in everyone's minds:
- How do we gather a physically distanced congregation either in-church or at-home in meaningful ways to celebrate the birth of Jesus?
- Is there a safe way to sing the joyous songs of the season - together?
- How can we keep our traditions and stay safe at the same time?
- How do we include older members and others who are not comfortable gathering at this time?
Each church's response will be different, based on needs, size, resources, traditions, and location with regard to COVID rates. And we already know from recent "re-openings" that many members are making up their own minds about "what's safe" and some are staying away. That raises the additional task (and opportunity) of providing both for those in-church and for those who need to be included at home.
The common need is for creativity and flexibility. Many traditions will need to be tweaked, and that also presents us with an opportunity to get out of our ruts and start new traditions.
Providentially, arts, education, and community organizations have had many months to experiment with how to have a public performance, developing some of the solutions and innovations that this Advent will need. For example:
- A virtual online choir can be a very safe way to put together an Advent or Christmas music performance that people can enjoy live or later (which is a great new option). See more information on what is required in the post below. Read this article from NPR about virtual choirs: Singing In The Dark Times: Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir Takes On New Meaning.
- The traditional Christmas pageant can follow the lead of some schools who are performing their musicals online. The Show Must Go Online is one script written specifically for the COVID school shutdown era, and makes use of modern technology.
- Cathy Walz' Advent Trails concept here at Rotation.org reimagines the concept of "live nativity" with possibilities as a community outreach, a family event, a self-guided walk, or even as a worship service of its own.
The Advent Trails forum also has a discussion about staging and modifying a "Live Nativity" in 2020 plus a guide to developing a Live Nativity.
In addition to the ideas at this site, remember to check to see what your denomination and others are offering. For example
- in October the Southern Ohio Synod of the ELCA at their conference has this session: Christmas During COVID: How to make an amazing pageant with resources you already have.
- suggestions from the UMC Advent and Christmas Music in the Midst of COVID-19.
Be sure to consider the latest health information as well as required protocols for your locale as you are planning events.
And... be prepared to share your programs with members who CANNOT ATTEND in person. In that respect, Facetime and Zoom are real "angels."