We’re all so tired of pandemic, aren’t we? I’ve been sighing over rising cases, masks littering the sidewalks, the anxieties of parents, and the difficulties here at the church of planning for the holidays. Limiting attendance is just not in our church’s DNA!
Pandemic is still a little too close to home.
But, with the holiday season, we have a chance to reflect again on this trip around the sun. This year, vaccinated families are invited to gather without qualms – and the kids can see the grandparents, though there might be some extra precautions if grandparents are quite elderly or have underlying health conditions. Even children five and up could be fully vaccinated by Christmas.
It’s still hard, but nothing like last year.
Last year I had a Thanksgiving table set for one: a stuffed chicken breast from the deli, one potato, one sweet potato. One outdoor walk with family. And the next day my mom started to develop symptoms of COVID-19. A week later she was in the ER. She would recover, but the house would continue in quarantine through Christmas.
COVID hit too close to home. Our Christmas was postponed to May.
Pandemic is still raging, for sure, but this year is different than last.
Not everything is better, though. This year, again, far too many families have experienced loss. It’s raw and painful and, for some among us, this season will be lonelier and out of sync. Christmas will feel more like Lent. Grief hits too close to home around the holidays.
No matter what you’re feeling and experiencing in this holiday season, I want you to know your friends in Christ-centered community here at Central UMC hold you in love. Our staff regularly prays. In a big church (I’m new to it all and still learning), it can be all too easy to get lost in the crowd. Please don’t do that this year. Here are just a few suggestions for starting the healing process and tapping into faith-centered community.
- Ask for prayer. Let us know you need it. Reach out to Sarah Drews, our health and wellness advocate. She’s a friendly voice and she can also send you grief resources and help you tap into programs and services in our area. Maybe you want a Stephen Minister to walk with you closely as you navigate the next year. She can help you explore that.
- Consider a small group. We have so many of them and they are all open to you. You can read about these on our website. Maybe this is the start of a new routine for a new year.
- Want to focus more on the holidays for now? Do something different this season. Consider one of our two Advent study groups. Find a new center, a new routine, and a new meaning in the season.
There are also a couple offerings that lend themselves particularly well to those who are struggling through the season.
- Consider joining Pastor Chris for the outdoor Solstice walk on December 21. This is a powerful opportunity to reflect and pray and be still.
- Join me for some stillness in the chapel. We’ll have holiday music and guided, silent prayer on two Wednesday evenings, December 8 & 15.
The details about all of these options are on our website.
Whether in joy and celebration, heartache and grief, anxiety or relief, Christmas always strikes a nerve. Christmas always hits close to home. In the darkness of the season, we light the simplest of candles and let their tiny flames burn as an enduring reminder of Christ and our ever-present God. We are not alone. And wherever there is a small flame burning, the darkness cannot overcome its light.
Grace and peace to you in a season of light in the darkness.
May that light radiate in your heart and in your home.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:5