It’s about that time of the year again when Advent catalogs start showing up in your mail. There’s everything from candles and calendars, to books and pageant scripts available at great discounts, and you look forward to having them with you in readiness for the first Sunday of Advent.
But things in 2020 are not exactly normal. With COVID on the rampage, celebrations won’t be as usual.
Congregations and parishes have already suspended in-person worship sessions and group activities well into 2021. Even with measures like wearing masks and social distancing, many churches and communities of believers deem it too risky to gather – even when outdoors.
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While some have suspended such plans up to January, others are mulling extending this to Ash Wednesday and even until the Holy Week. On the plus side, more people are tuning in to online services.
For instance, 54% of U.S adults who recently followed the virtual services had not been watching them before the outbreak began.
Spiritual and Emotional Isolation
Hybrid worship, while admirable, has had its drawback. Those excluded from participating in the in-person worship – such as the elderly and persons with pre-existing conditions, feel less of the Christian community that they are used to.
After all, being restricted to watching a live stream from home while other congregants are in the church, hasn’t been easy. It comes with increased feelings of isolation.
But that’s not to say that things may not turn around heading into December. Perhaps the spread of COVID will slow.
However, a constant back-and-forth of making plans that will allow you to congregate in person, then seeing the postponed for weeks can be emotionally draining.
Why not make actual plans that include all believers without exposing them to the risk of contracting infection? That way a section won’t feel left out of the community? What do I mean?
This Advent yet another opportunity to tap into our imagination as congregants, to come up with plans that will be actionable, and to participate in events together as a church.
Opportunity to Get Creative
Advent has different aspects that are included. Each can be tweaked to suit the COVID safety measures.
Take the Advent wreaths for instance. A church can source the supplies required to make wreaths, and arrange to have them delivered to each of the households of the congregants before the first Sunday of Advent.
Each family can then prepare its own wreaths – there are plenty of DIY instructions for that online. It’ll be a fun activity for them too at a household level, with all family members getting involved.
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Then on each Sunday during Advent, they can light the wreath while following the service proceedings online. This will help the congregants feel together, despite the distance.
The goal here is to restore that community feeling. After all, you don’t want to feel isolated during Advent.
Brainstorming on such ideas with fellow congregants on plans that will connect you without putting you at risk will also be fun as well, taking away the slump brought on by the pandemic.
So, what has your congregation come up with? Let us know in the comment section below.