From the Pastor – December Article

The Christmas/Advent season will be different from what we have come to expect in recent years. The Covid virus has rapidly changed society and that certainly includes how we celebrate holidays.

News reports advise families to stay home from holiday traveling to avoid a virus infection. We hesitate to shop at grocery stores. Stores both large and small suffer the effects of the pandemic. Restaurants and retailers are going out of businesses and people are losing jobs.

I heard a radio report recently encouraging students to apply for admission to Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Students could tour the campus virtually or in person. Classes would also be offered virtually or in person. Isn’t it surprising how our schools and other institutions have adapted to changing circumstances? My son is a grade school principal and he doesn’t know from one week to the next what adjustments he must make at the school to follow the latest school directive or guidelines from the state.

The Church, like everyone else, has been forced to change its worship practices to protect worshipers from virus infection. Most churches are empty on Sunday morning. Some congregations video tape worship via Zoom and Facebook. Other churches have parking lot worship with the service broadcast to their car radio, like a drive-in movie.

Many of us will approach the new year ready to leave this old year behind us. News reports indicate that a vaccination will be available to protect people from virus infection. It’s clearly a miracle a vaccination has been developed so quickly. Actually, the health sciences have done a fantastic job evolving treatments for the virus and other diseases.

Whether we like it or not, we live in historic times. No one may particularly remember the years 2018 or 2019, but we will all remember 2020. It will be known as the Covid year, much as 1918 has been remembered for the Spanish flu a century ago.

My son tells me he has been decorating his home with Christmas lights. Good for him and his family. He hopes still to make this Christmas season special for his three daughters.

We will adapt to these changed times. I recall this year we observe it has been four hundred years, since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Image what it must have been like to celebrate Christmas in America four hundred years ago. It was certainly nothing like our modern Christmas observance.

We know the pandemic will pass in due time. This year many of our treasured Christmas practices will change. But one thing ought not to change. The good news of Christ coming through the birth of a Christ child in a manger in Bethlehem remains the same as it always has been. The true meaning of Christmas is unaffected by the disease.

Observe Advent and Christmas in your home. Place an emphasis on recovering the spiritual meaning of the season. Find Christ anew and let him guide you to a better tomorrow.