CELEBRATING A DIGITAL CHRISTMAS
Dec 14, 2020
By Roberto Lara, Assistant to the Bishop for Communications and Development
The holidays are a holy time of year; it is also a time of reflection and a time traditionally spent with family, friends, and fellow congregants. But this holiday season will probably look different than those we are used to. In order to protect those we care for, we may not be able to be physically together this year, but by implementing safe practices and looking out for one another, we can truly embody the sentiment of being Church Together.
If we have learned something uplifting during this crisis, it is that Church is so much more than a building—Church transcends the brick and mortar sanctuaries we are so accustomed to visiting. Even when our buildings were closed, our Church remained open, and our churches have been diligently serving our communities. At the height of the pandemic, communicating posed a challenge in the absence of physically thriving churches where members gather in-person to pray and learn together. Digital communication channels quickly became our primary tool to stay relevant and connected with our members, and thanks to these digital channels, we learned that regardless of the method we use to share the Good News, our mission of sharing the Word of God has to be the main focus. Many congregations even obtained a substantial number of new members due to the embracement of the digital realm. Let us learn from this experience with Digital Church as we enter the holidays.
How, then, might we safely honor the birth of our Lord and Savior, celebrate Advent and Christmas, and harken the warmth and faithfulness of our communities?
The Office of the Bishop has prepared DIGITAL CHRISTMAS RESOURCES & IDEAS to help our members, congregations and communities plan alternative, digital end-of-year festivities. These ideas can be tailored to your needs and specific situations, or perhaps could be a jumping-off point; either way, they will help all of us take care of one another while enjoying faithful holiday celebrations safely.
DIGITAL CHRISTMAS RESOURCES & IDEAS:
VIRTUAL WORSHIP SERVICES
Digital worship services are an excellent way to gather and pray with your community at this holy time of year.
Please keep in mind that if you are planning on live-streaming services, don’t forget about your online audience, and try not to only live-stream. Instead, also create services for your online audience via Zoom or another platform that invites their participation and engagement in worship. Digital attendance has increased during this pandemic, and you do not want to miss an opportunity to sustain and retain this new audience.
MNYS SERVICES OF THE WORD: ADVENT I & SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
Pastors, would you enjoy a weekend or two off? Congregations and communities, would you like to join Bishop Egensteiner and the synod staff for the holidays?
On Sunday, November 29 (Advent I)
, and Sunday, December 27 (Christmas I)
at 10 am, the Office of the Bishop will be premiering Services of the Word on YouTube
. The virtual front doors of MNYS are open to all. Let us digitally gather together for these synodical celebrations.
DIGITAL OFFICE HOURS
The holidays can be a time of difficulty for many, and the crisis we are all experiencing may be increasing levels of stress, sadness, loneliness and anxiety. Providing a schedule of digital office hours can be a very helpful source for much-needed pastoral care this holiday season.
ECUMENICAL DIGITAL COFFEE HOURS
Host a digital coffee hour via Zoom and invite ecumenical partners and guests, leading up to holidays and/or after virtual worship services. You can remain in faithful and thought-provoking discussion with your fellow siblings and maintain our sense of community and collaboration in the name of the Holy Spirit.
VIDEO HOLIDAY GREETINGS
Put together a video holiday greeting that invites everyone to participate. Not only is this a fun activity to share with one another, but it will help ordained leaders, lay leaders, and faithful congregants and communities get into the holiday spirit.
Explore the Mexican Christmas tradition of Posadas this season, and digitalize it!
This unusual holiday season, devoid of travel and in-person gatherings, offers us the rare opportunity to explore new cultural traditions from the comfort of our homes. This Posada celebrations can be shared with family, friends, and fellow congregants via scheduled Zoom meeting gatherings. Learn more about Posadas, HERE
CROSS-CULTURAL ZOOM ACTIVITIES
Coordinate activities via Zoom with fellow congregations that have different traditions than your own. The digital interface we now rely on offers everyone the ability to more easily plan events and the opportunity to dismantle barriers. Discover new cultural traditions and new ways of celebrating this holiday season!
Organize advocacy events with local Lutheran organizations (i.e., toy drives, food pantry collection, etc.) for members of your community to get involved in during this time of giving. There are so many in need right now, and the Church can continue to be there for everyone. Additionally, young new members can also engage in such advocacy efforts, giving them a place and purpose for generosity.
VIRTUAL HYMN SINGS
Worship the Lord and bond through hymnal music with your congregational community, through a virtual hymn sing. This can be hosted live through a Zoom virtual choir, or be prerecorded and edited into a video to share with the entire congregation and community.
Create a holiday kit with crafts, candles and worship elements for the holiday season and offer them to households in your congregation.
IMPORTANT COPYRIGHT INFORMATION
Please note that your services or events may contain music that is copyright protected. In order to avoid any potential issues, consider subscribing to CCLI Church Copyright License. For more information on this topic and about CCLI, click HERE