Midnight Mass in your pyjamas and hanging Christmas prayer stars in your front window are just two fresh ideas to help create opportunities to celebrate the hope of Advent in the midst of a pandemic.
Creating opportunities to celebrate the hope of Advent in the midst of a pandemic
These two ideas are part of a hamper of tried and tested concepts to spread some Christmas cheer this year, and have been collected and collated from churches and dioceses across the country by the University of York and shared via the Church of England, in response to the impact the coronavirus has had on churches and the way they serve communities this year.
The effects of lockdown and other COVID restrictions have been hugely challenging for places of worship and The Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture (University of York) has just completed a national survey of over 2,500 people – including clergy, church members, and the general public – to better understand the impact of the pandemic on people and communities.
Dr Dee Dyas, who is leading the survey, explained:
“COVID-19 has been hugely challenging for churches. It has depleted resources, both in terms of people and financially, while at the same time it has brought many new demands on everyone’s time and energy.
“But the pandemic has also stimulated enormous creativity and churches around the country have responded by devising and adapting simple, safe, affordable ways to reach out and show care to those who are grieving, anxious and afraid.
“Advent, Christmas and New Year offer vital opportunities to let people catch up with what has been happening to them, process their grief, find comfort, and discover new hope and light in what for many is a very dark time.
“Churches can’t put on big events this year but small, personal opportunities to experience beauty and comfort, feel connected to others, and create some positive memories, are probably what are needed most,” she added.
Ideas range from an online pyjama service for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve to encourage more families to be able to join in from home; a socially distanced Nativity where participants dress up and play the parts from their own homes, to creating a drop-in space in church for a couple of hours each evening and filling the church with candle light and soft instrumental worship music and some simple prayer stations to help people pray, reflect and enjoy the sacred space.
They are suitable for Christmas services, engaging families and the wider community and ideas to encourage giving.
The Revd Dr Stephen Hance, the Church of England’s National Lead for Evangelism and Witness said:
“As churches get ready for this Christmas like no other, what they want are practical ideas that will work. I am delighted that so many creative and manageable suggestions from many different places have been gathered together, and hope they will be a blessing to many this Christmas time.”
You can find all the ideas here.
Please note all these ideas have been shared by churches and individuals based on their particular contexts. Please remember to adhere to the latest national Government and Public Health guidelines and any added local restrictions when you are planning any activity.