Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the First Sunday after Christmas
December 24-26, 2021
It is Thursday morning, December 23rd, as I write this. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve! In heart and mind we go to Bethlehem and imagine what the first Christmas might have been like. The Gospel of Luke implies that it was a chaotic scene. A Roman census requiring people to register in their birth cities had uprooted people from their homes and set them scrambling for a place to stay. The lines were long, the tempers were short, and the Roman soldiers tasked with maintaining order were on edge. Mary and Joseph famously found “no room for them in the inn.” So they settled down for the night amongst the animals in a stable, and it was there that Mary “brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger.”
Obviously we live in different times, but if you walk around the city, the mood seems similar. The occupying power is no foreign oppressor, but Covid-19. The lines at testing sites are long and tempers are short. Everyone is preoccupied with carrying on with Christmas, yet staying safe. It’s a tricky balance. Here’s how things are shaping up at Grace Church.
1. We are forging ahead with our full, in-person Christmas schedule. The church will be open on the 24th for the pageant at 4 pm, Lessons and Carols at 8 pm, and the Midnight Eucharist at 11 pm. Then on the 25th we celebrate Christmas Day at 11 am. Finally, by some cruel cosmic twist of the calendar, December 26 is a Sunday, so there will be no rest for the weary. The church will be open for worship at 9 am, 11 am, and 6 pm.
2. The livestream will be active too. On Christmas Eve the 4 pm pageant and the 8 pm Lessons and Carols will be broadcast. On Sunday, December 26, the 11 am service will be on the livestream.
3. Vaccines and masks are required for all in-person worship. Vaccine cards/passes will be checked at the door, so please have them ready when you arrive. If you are not fully vaccinated, or have tested positive, or are showing breakthrough symptoms, please stay home and enjoy the livestream.
4. Bag checks are also necessary to keep us safe. Security will be on hand to inspect all backpacks, larger purses, and packages. If possible, consider leaving these items at home to expedite the procedure in the narthex.
5. Don’t forget the Vestry Fund for Outreach. The loose plate offering at all our Christmas services goes to this fund, which is our main instrument for providing grants to soup kitchens, food pantries, and shelters in the city. When the offering plates come by (or through the giving portal on the website) please be as generous as you possible can be.
Despite the complications of this year I am looking forward to the days ahead. Christmas blessings to you and yours. Here we go!
The Rev. J. Donald Waring