Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
Isaiah 40: 1-2
Comfort… The promise God’s love brings us at Christmas.
Comfort… The mission Christ’s birth begins for us ever after.
On Christmas, we will worship in person, even singing together! …The first time in 22 months that we have joined our voices together in person in praise of God’s love.
Sure, we’ve sung “together” on Zoom and Acapella. We’ve hummed along at the outdoor services as one of our own sang for and to us. But there has not been the sound of our voices joining in an imperfect, perfect chorus – making beautiful noise about how good God is. If I may be so bold, I think God has even missed the sound.
The 5pm Family Christmas Eve Service will take place in the front courtyard. Ok, it’s December: it will be cold and dark. But that service is always (except last year) outside.
We will still have the COVID safety precautions – masks and social distancing. We will ask people to refrain from hugging. But with those precautions, everyone will be welcome (regardless of vaccination status).
But we will have the carols and all the traditional Christmas music. And brass. And candlelight too – imagine the courtyard filled with luminarias. And the painted creche animals. And the Christmas story – told and sung and acted out – as is our tradition at the 5pm service. Even with a real baby Jesus…
Three more additions will make this service extra special:
The order of service will be available on your cell phone – so even though it’s dark, everyone will be able to see all the words to the carols.
There will be hot chocolate out on the sidewalk after the service, to send everyone out into the world with more warmth and sweetness.
Finally, there will be blankets! Nope, this is not the Blanket Sunday we hold around Mother’s Day to raise funds for Church World Service’s disaster ministries. Instead, as we’ve become more accustomed to pandemic dining outdoors, we’ve appreciated restaurants with blankets that we can cover our laps or drape around our shoulders.
But the blankets will mean more at church.
We are asking you to donate new or gently used blankets for this service. (We’d prefer you bring them to the church office earlier, but you can also just bring them with you on Christmas Eve.) We will share them with one another during the service – to stay warm, to provide comfort, to show love. Like the prayer shawl ministry, they can be substitute hugs. Afterwards, they will all be laundered and donated so people who are homeless get some extra warmth, comfort, love.
Christ was born into the middle of a dark, cold December night. Our world is too often like that night. In Christ, God sends us comfort, warmth and care. In Christ, God sends us to comfort, to warm and to care. May blankets be a visible sign — even our sacrament this year — as we live out the Christmas gospel.
Have a merry, merry Holy-day and a holy New Year.
P.S. There are arrangements for a rainy Christmas Eve – we will still have the 5pm service! Invite your friend and family. We will also have the 8pm service for folks online via Zoom.