Words of Wisdom/Things to Consider
In an online worship service, include as many people as possible doing different parts of the worship.
Trying to recreate past Christmas services during COVID time will be like reaching for a chocolate chip cookie, biting into it, and discovering that it's raisins.
Nativity – Stations
Idea: Home Stations. Print out these posters or use nativity pieces around the house. During Advent and Christmas take time to pause, consider the Story, and pray.
Alternative: Create prayer cards and go for a walk or drive. Make stops along the way using the cards as a guide for prayer and reflection (while you are at it pray specifically for those in the neighborhood or area).
Idea: Living Nativity Stations. Invite families or bubbles (small groups of individuals who limit their social interaction to each other to be safe) to create a station. They could each have a stall in the parking lot or their own driveway. People would be invited to either walk or drive the stations.
Alternative: Digital Stations. Pre-recorded and sent out as a whole batch of each day a new station. You could also incorporate this in a type of worship service.
Lessons & Carols
Idea: Do a Synod, Cluster, or Congregation wide , pre-recorded, Lessons and Carols service with participants from all over. Individuals or family groups can provide the singing. Tap into your technical and musical talent.
Have a worship at home Lessons and Carols resource for family groups. Send DVD’s of Synod, Cluster, or Congregation-wide service to those without internet or at home alone.
Lessons and Carols – pre-recorded and put on YouTube.
Silly/Fun 12 Days of Christmas
Have a Synod Wide 12 Days of Christmas with people recording themselves being “Ten Lords a Leaping” or “8 maids a milking”, kind of a synod wide variety show. Again, your tech person would need to splice everything together.
Go caroling. Wear masks (under your scarf).
Have a Christmas or Epiphany bonfire.
One church I know is looking into worship in a barn. Lots of airflow.
Gather outside, in cars, using an FM transmitter. Decorate the parking lot with the same vigor as inside the sanctuary. Skip the Pointsettia’s (since they’ll freeze). Lots of lights.
Church “selfie” or family Christmas Pictures
We hope to have the Nave open on Xmas Eve for people to come in and sit/meditate/take a picture with the Xmas tree for say, up to 15 minutes at a time. We haven’t worked out the details (reservations?) but there will be a limited number of people there at any given time.
Interactive/Prompts during Carols (help in-person participants refrain from singing)
Invite people to pray for particular things during carols (i.e. remember those expecting parents during “what child is this?”)
Invite people to write a Christmas card.
Provide a slide show or visual during hymn.
Festival of the Trees, ornaments, nativity sets, cookies …
Pictures of Christmases past to show as a slide show as a carol plays in online or in-person worship.
Pictures of home nativities sent in by parishioners, same objective
Short videos (records of zoom interview) of people sharing meaningful ornament, cookie recipe, nativity set, etc. Share the item and why meaningful. (could have carols playing in the background – again to help in-person people not sing out)
Advent wreaths & home practices
Expand the Family – safely. Invite people to “adopt” another household or individual to light candles and pray each week – over the phone or zoom. Consider providing simple prayers or instructions.
Have advent wreath DYI kit (free or as a fundraiser for local shelter, etc.)
Advent/Christmas boxes containing traditional bulletins, an ornament, a small Advent wreathe (!), and a candle for Xmas Eve.
Bonus: Have delivery people dressed up as Magi
Order and mail out devotions. IE “Awaiting the Wonder” Tim Westmann
Wine, beer, or treat along with prayer prompt, Bible verse, or part of Christmas Story.
Bulk buy and have a delivery team drop them off (bonus: call in the drive way and pray together when delivering)
Instead of “Trunk or Treat” – decorate cars or booths.
Inside Out Christmas. This could mean decorating outside like the inside – or go wild with upside down Christmas trees and a reverse telling of the Christmas story (or unique telling).
Incorporate head and taillights into worship (turn on lights during silent night by car row)
Blue Christmas//Longest Night
We plan to have a Zoom ‘Merry Christmas ‘time especially for those who are alone or missing gatherings with others. Not sure when that will be yet.
Providing a Longest Night Service, especially this year
All Saints Day
On All Saints Day/Sunday we will have an outdoor eucharist in the afternoon and have copies of Holden Evening Prayer available to pick up in anticipation of Advent Evening Prayer Wednesdays in December (also available at the church office throughout November)
Candles & Lights
Decorate the parking lot with the same vigor as inside the sanctuary. Skip the Poinsettia’s (since they’ll freeze). Lots of lights. – Fire resistant luminary bags or electric votives.
We will provide candles and bobaches to be picked up at church (placed at the back door, in a basket), plus copies of the service for those unable to download/print. The service will be online as usual so that we can sing the carols at home.
Light advent candles together at home and during worship.
Church Family – Zoom times (just to share holiday wishes)
In the community …
Carpool karaoke Christmas carols around the community
Christmas parade/procession of light into the community
Christmas Carol – playlist or recording
Each child/person shares their Nativity pieces while telling of the Christmas story – during worship. Contact University Lutheran for this service
Card shower – send cards to each other
Invite people to simply send cards out. May prompt them to send to those they miss, those who sat around them during worship, etc.
Use the directory, send card to the next person on the list – or the next three (safeguard so most people get at least one).
Create a list. Volunteers agree to write cards and divide out the list (or purposefully match).
Zoom Space. Offer zoom link for families to meet (sort of like using the church hall for family reunion - digitally).
Tamales … food truck
Cookie Exchange – trunk or treat