Back in late March there was hope that when Easter Sunday arrived and we would be celebrating the resurrection, that the churches would be open, filled to the brim, and everyone would be thankful that the couple of weeks of hardship endured was worth it, and the celebration of Easter would be the perfect way to come out of quarantine.
Here we are several months later, and we have gone from being optimistic for Easter, to be pessimistic about Christmas.
There has been very little certainty in 2020, perhaps the most certain thing in 2020 is that when something happens, the reason for it would be “2020.”
However, as the year comes to an end, as COVID fatigue begins to take a toll mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, it is certain that on Christmas morning, hope and joy will fill the hearts of all those searching for something good to hold onto, in person or virtually.
The churches will look different this year.
A year ago, many churches only dreamed of having the ability to stream the gospel message, and now many churches have become experts at it. As a result of COVID-19 and in thanksgiving for technology, the gospel message is finding new ways to reach the corners of the earth, just as Jesus commanded at the end of Matthew’s Gospel.
With Christmas a couple of weeks away, churches are preparing or have already prepared plans for how to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and to bring hope into a world that needs the celebration of Christmas more than ever before, even if it is virtual.
December 25 will come, and this year, perhaps more than years past, it is important that it just not be another day, especially just another day in 2020.
Whether a church is offering in person services or all virtual, Christmas’s celebration of the Word becoming flesh, of the Light dispelling the darkness can bring the hope and joy so many seek, especially as we enter what some are saying could be the last major hurdle of this whole pandemic, with a vaccine in sight.
Take the time these next couple of weeks to plan with the family what Christmas will look like, especially regarding church services. Contact the local church that you belong to and see what they are offering.
If just online, make sure you can stream it in a way that the whole family can be immersed in the experience and not just watch it off a smartphone, laying on the couch during commercial breaks of “A Christmas Story.”
Churches that will be having in person services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day are more than likely taking reservations ahead of time, and now would be the time to do the research so you are not turned away; no church wants to turn anyone away on Christmas, even if it is 2020.
Even with the pandemic, Christmas will still take place this year, and whether you “belonged” to a church community before 2020, or maybe you have thought about joining one during 2020, there might be no better time to participate in the good news that the darkness was overcome that first Christmas in Bethlehem.
Call your local church, check the church websites and Facebook pages and find out what they are doing, so that whether in person or virtually, all the world in 2020 can proclaim with the angels “Glory to the new born king!”
The Rev. Michael LaMarca is the past of Pastor of St. Michael R.C. Church in Warsaw