Dear Christ the Redeemer family,
A blessed Advent to each and all. Two of my favorite priestly moments of the year fall during Advent: chanting the Great Litany on the first Sunday of Advent and reading the Bidding Prayer at the opening of Lessons and Carols. Both of them, so wonderfully profound, so steeped in the prayers and worship of the years. Each year I feel the honor and privilege of leading us in these deep wells of life-giving waters. This year one of those thus far has been, and the other will be, different but still by God’s good grace the first has been a part of our worship and the second we trust will be.
CHRISTMAS: Christmas is going to be different for all of us this year. Dear friends, I know how badly we all would like to do all the things we normally do; it has been noted that no one celebrates Christmas as well as we Anglicans. And I get the feeling: wars have been paused for Christmas truces in the past, so surely we can go back to normal just for this special Day? The problem is that a virus does not have a brain or a heart of compassion: you can’t negotiate a Christmas truce with a virus. So praise our Lord Jesus Christmas is an historical reality, not able to be taken away by chance or change or circumstance. Christmas is, in its essence, about God joining us in our fragility and suffering.
Having said all of that, we do have special plans for our Christmas celebrations, and I am very much looking forward to them:
- Lessons and Carols: we are planning to live-stream an adjusted Lessons and Carols on the fourth Sunday of Advent, December 20th, at 5 pm.
- Christmas Eve: Gordon-Conwell has graciously offered us the use of the Green again; weather permitting we will gather there on Christmas Eve at 3 pm (sunset is at 4.16 pm that day) for our Christmas celebration. Bp Andrew has accepted my invitation to come and be our preacher. If the weather prohibits this then the service will be online at 3 pm, but, dear brothers and sisters, given the many constraints of this season may I encourage us to embrace this as an adventure? We will make sign-ups available for the service; if needed we will offer a second service at 5 pm.
IN-PERSON GATHERINGS: I am watching the red-yellow-grey-green scale per COVID and towns that comes out each week on Thursday. Generally, if Beverly and Danvers are red any given week, we will not have people in the room that Sunday. That is my rule of thumb (not an absolute in either direction). I am also watching the COVID gatherings risk assessment tool put out by Georgia Tech University online. Given the recent trends, it would not surprise me if both of those towns are red for this Sunday (the 20th).
But also, our plan currently is to be online only on December 27 and January 3, taking a little breather and, we hope, letting some of the holidays-driven spike pass by.
Bless you all in these challenging times; know that our Lord Jesus is near, knows, and loves you.
And may Jesus Christ be praised,