To the Editor:
This year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving begins the Christian season of Advent – a time of preparation for the celebration of Christmas. At Bar Harbor Congregational Church, because of the pandemic, we are spending even more time than usual planning for this holiday season, finding ways to celebrate both joyously and safely.
Everyone wants the holidays to be “normal,” filled with comforting moments that resonate with life’s most enduring joys. And yet we know that this year can’t be just like every other. Our church is likely postponing our popular community Christmas Fair until spring. And as much as we cherish our Christmas Eve services, unless things change drastically, we’re not convinced we have the tools in place to host in-sanctuary worship services safely, ensuring compliance with COVID precautions like restricting attendance, wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, washing hands, exchanging adequate air and keeping to a short duration. In short – we’re adapting to the circumstances.
While we’re still figuring out what Christmas Eve will look like, we’re redoubling our efforts to shine and share light in our community this season. We’ll likely still have our Living Nativity, but with fewer participants and no yummy soup supper beforehand. We’ll likely host a community carol sing, but safely, via live-stream. We’ll even try a virtual Christmas pageant with a few choice cameos and lots of angels. And we’ll pray and ponder the meaning of Christmas as we gather, separately and yet together, grateful for the miracle of God’s gracious presence that bridges our gaps and longs to heal our divisions.
However you celebrate the joys and miracles of this season, we urge you to consider carefully how your choices reflect your desire to see your friends and loved ones, heart to heart and face to face, in the years to come. May we find the warmth of togetherness even as we stay farther apart, for everyone’s sake.
Rev. Rob Benson