I shared this article to Facebook, am linking it here for future reference …
Nathan Kirkpatrick “It’s time to talk about Advent in a pandemic,” Faith & Leadership, Duke Divinity School, Sept. 1, 2020 https://faithandleadership.com/nathan-kirkpatrick-its-time-talk-about-advent-pandemic?fbclid=IwAR0wSZUHEb75lTnB1kOg7NfHwvDeeN2A33ha1WYj9WvGy9-woHVKIacDEBw.
Nathan Kirkpatrick is managing director, Leadership Education at Duke Divinity
A colleague posted to Facebook last week that his congregation has already decided to suspend all in-person worship and activities well into January 2021. It’s too risky for too many, they decided. Even outdoors. Even with masks and physical distancing. I hear others mulling similar decisions — some debating canceling in-person events until early January, some until Ash Wednesday, others until Holy Week 2021.
They do not want to exclude from sharing in worship those who have preexisting conditions or those who are elderly. A hybrid setup allowing small groups of the healthy, young and comfortable to gather in person while others are left to watch a livestream from home feels like something less than Christian community. (We’ve learned something significant about the experience of many of our homebound parishioners during this time — specifically, how physical distance can compound spiritual and emotional isolation.)
Yet I, for one, am growing weary of the emotional whiplash of “the COVID maybe,” the perpetual back-and-forth between hoping and planning to gather in person and then seeing that delayed for another two, four or six weeks — or postponed indefinitely. I appreciate the clarity of my colleague’s congregation: everything in-person will be held online well into January.
That allows two things to happen. First, it allows space and time for grief. As with Holy Week and Easter, there will be considerable grief about physically distanced celebrations of Advent and Christmas. But second, such clarity allows us to move from the weight of that loss to the hope of possibility — from lament to creativity.
In that same conversation about Halloween candy, my friend mentioned that she has been thinking a lot about Advent wreaths. She’s going to propose to her pastor that the church mobilize to deliver all the necessary wreath-making supplies to each household in time for the first Sunday of Advent. Let people and families make their own wreaths and light them as they watch the church’s services on Zoom. It’s a way that they can be together even if distanced.
That’s one idea. What will your congregation imagine?