Here’s the plan for Christmas Eve at Grace – PASTOR CHRIS EMAIL UPDATE 12/9/20
Dear Grace Family and Friends,
Thank you for participating in our recent survey regarding Christmas Eve worship services. Your input has been invaluable to our discernment as a leadership and you have been heard. More than 160 responses were received and nearly half of you expressed your willingness to attend an in-person, outdoor drive-in service on Christmas Eve. The preferred time was 5 p.m.
So, here’s what you need to know.
We are excited to celebrate Christmas with you by offering two worship experiences on December 24th.
- A special and festive online service will be available beginning at noon on Facebook, YouTube, and our church webpage. This worship experience will remain available on-demand after that so that you can engage with us as best fits your schedule.
- A single, in-person, outdoor drive-in service will be held on our campus at 5 p.m. Advance reservations will be required for this worship experience. Warm and cozy in our individual cars, we will sing together, pray, and hear an uplifting message about Christ’s birth. We will conclude this service by singing “Silent Night” together in a different but still creative and intimate way.
Please keep reading if you’re curious why we are choosing not to hold an in-person worship service inside our sanctuary on Christmas Eve.
Like you, the leadership of Grace has been left trying to make the best judgment call we can for our faith community. Our deliberations and decisions have been covered in prayer, rooted in the counsel of scripture, and based not on fear but faith in the God who has called us to reflect the love and grace of Christ for such a time as this. As your leadership, if we are going to err, we choose to err on the side of sacrificially protecting our neighbors and faithfully partnering our local hospitals, health care workers, and our governing agencies in doing their job.
Some members of our community have forwarded to my attention the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn New York’s restriction against religious congregation indoor worship services. In light of this decision and in some cases even prior to it, various churches in California have moved forward in holding worship services inside of their buildings. Grace will not be choosing to follow such a course at this time.
Even though we are no longer legally prevented from resuming on-site services, I believe we are being called as followers of Jesus to make the loving sacrifice of not doing so for sake of others. Just because we can return to worship in person doesn’t mean that we all should. Therefore, we are choosing not to worship inside our sanctuary in order to help reduce the chance of spread of COVID-19 among our neighbors, particularly those who might be most impacted by the virus. Despite our longing to be together, we are choosing not to gather as we normally do because we want to do our part to keep our area ICU’s and PCU’s from overflowing.
While there are some who dismiss the threat from COVID, there are others who are really anxious right now. We are all trying to do the best we can with the information we have, the choices we are facing, and the uncertain outcomes of our decisions. Christ specifically called us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus demonstrated the full extent of what such love requires in sacrificing Himself for us all.
Still, we might push back and ask, “If people are choosing to shop, then why as Christians should we not choose to praise and pray?” The answer is, in choosing not to gather inside our building we aren’t making that choice. Worship is not limited to a location or a building. Jesus decried the worship of the building, the Temple, over against how we express our worship through our care for one another. We can and we are praising and praying together differently. It may not be what we like or prefer or even want, but our worship is only restricted — it is only negated — if we choose not to sing, to pray, to gather around the Word of God and listen, to share the bread and wine of Holy Communion, and to glorify God by faithfully and sacrificially serving each other.
I look forward to celebrating the birth of our Savior on Christmas Eve with you, either on-line or in our cars!