From The Pastors

As Grinchy as the Coronavirus is it Cannot Steal Christmas

From
November 27, 2020

From the Pastor

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; they who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, on them has the light given brightness. (Isaiah 9:2)

It’s December! Which means that it’s time for Christmas decorations, music, food, gifts, and other festivities. It is also a time for reflecting on the miracle of the Lord’s advent into the world as a human infant, His purpose in doing so, and the immense effects that came as a result of His act of love.

Every year has a Christmas. They roll on by year by year, regardless of the other events of the world, the state of humanity, or the conditions of the times. The original Christmas happened at one of the darkest times in human spiritual history. Since then, Christmas has come to people at war, in poverty, during plagues, at times of financial crisis, and when the world was seemingly turned upside down. People have celebrated Christmas in foxholes and in shelters, from hospital wards and while far from home. Christmas is not a holiday that requires peace and comfort. In fact, it is all about the bringing of peace and comfort to those who do not yet have it, at a time of cold darkness, and so it is appropriate no matter the circumstances of our time or place.

This year’s Christmas is going to be easy. We merely have a pandemic going on, and in the history of pandemics, even with the deaths and hardships this one has brought, it has still been a comparatively easy one for the human race. And this Christmas season, we will have to make some adjustments to how we celebrate it, but it will still be Christmastime, nevertheless.

At Washington New Church we will continue to prudently follow the health and safety recommendations (as well as the related executive orders) of our state and county. This means we won’t be promoting large private gatherings. Our services will be kept under the occupancy limits we’ve been given. We won’t feature group singing, nor will we be serving food and beverages at our events. And when we gather, we will maintain safe social distance between people of different households and always wear a mask to protect those around us. It is what we have been asked to do by our legitimate civil authorities, as well as by our high-risk friends and neighbors, so it is simply the charitable path to take.

But as grinchy as the latest coronavirus is, it cannot steal Christmas. We will still put up lights. We will still worship the Lord. And we will still find ways to make the holiday season a special time for reflection on the Lord’s coming into the world.

First, I want to invite anyone who is interested to join in with me in a weekly online gathering where we will check in with one another, read portions of the Christmas story together, have fun discussions, and pray together. This is an open group that will be available from 7pm to 8:30pm the first four Wednesdays in December, starting on December 2nd. You can come to just one or you can participate every week; it’s up to you and your schedule. Details, including a link to the Zoom online video conference, will be sent out via my weekly emails.

Second, I want to let you know that even though we will not be able to put together a traditional Christmas tableaux show this year, we are working on plans for a short outdoor living nativity program for you to enjoy. Details including date and time are still being worked out, so be on the lookout for further announcements.

Third, let me remind you that we are now streaming live video of every worship service we hold. Live streams as well as archived video can be found on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCywS2hlWXA3Pwdho5QYt_tA or by entering “Washington New Church” in the search bar at www.youtube.com. As of this writing, we are still holding in-person worship gatherings in the sanctuary, provided we keep attendance to below the lessor of 25% maximum occupancy or 1 household per 200 square feet. It is entirely possible that further restrictions end up closing our indoor in-person gatherings altogether, though. If that happens, we will still be offering online worship at 11 a.m. every Sunday, as well as on Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning.

And finally, speaking of Christmas Eve and Morning services, we will of course be having services on those days, as well as on every Sunday in December. I am still having conversations with various people about ways to make those services special, especially in light of the fact that current health guidance says that groups singing together defeat the protection provided by social distancing and mask wearing. Christmas is a holiday with a very distinct and beloved musical tradition surrounding it, and I am looking for ways to carry that tradition on despite the lack of singing. Stay tuned for more on that in the coming days.

Friends, it’s been a rough year. More so for some than others, of course, but we’ve all experienced unusual challenges in the past handful of months. I encourage you to remember that this world is temporary, and that its cares are powerless against the eternal arc of the Lord’s loving providence. Use this holiday season to take stock of what is good in your life, to pray to the Lord for both comfort and guidance, and to then look outward and see how you can identify and then serve the good that exists within the people around you. He came into the world in order to permanently make it possible for you to do this, so use His gift wisely.

The Lord came into the world to save the human race, which if He had not done so would have perished in eternal death. He saved it by subduing the hells which were molesting every person coming into the world and going out of it, and at the same time by glorifying His Human; for having accomplished this He is able to keep the hells in subjection for evermore. (Secrets of Heaven 10828)

“Have confidence, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Merry Christmas, everyone! I wish you a peaceful and fulfilling month.

Rev. Mac Frazier

2020-11-20

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