We’ve compiled some excellent ideas and resources for Advent and Christmas at a time when large, in-person gatherings are not possible. If you have or know of a great resource you think we should add, email us.
'Hope Made Real' complete worship service (can be used Dec. 27, 2020 or later): Where is your hope anchored? You're invited to a worship service that explores that question. Our five district superintendents each share a personal story of hope made real in their lives, and their messages are interspersed with incredible musical arrangements provided by United Methodist Churches throughout Minnesota. As we prepare to enter a new year during a global pandemic, this is an uplifting message of hope and possibility.
Note: You need to have a CCLI license in order to upload or stream this worship service to your own platforms or pages. If you do not have a CCLI license, you are welcome to have your congregation watch the service at 9:30 a.m. on the Minnesota Conference Facebook page (or simply share our post to your page and they can watch there).
View and download: Star of Hope and Intention (for those watching to use with worship service) / Order of worship / Transcript of key messages
Bishop Bruce R. Ough reminds us in this Christmas sermon that even as we remember and celebrate God’s very first in-person encounter that took place in a Bethlehem stable over 2,000 years ago, God is seeking an in-person encounter with each of us this very day. Jesus makes it possible for God and us to meet face-to-face. Jesus makes it possible for God to tell us God loves us for who we are. Jesus gives us an in-person encounter with unconditional, unmerited love. View sermon transcript.
Worldwide Virtual Christmas Choir Videos: Watch as hundreds of United Methodist come together with unified voices to celebrate the birth of Christ our Savior. Please feel free to download the videos to use in your Christmas Celebration services.
Christmas Hymns 2020: Hilltop UMC in Mankato recorded five Christmas hymns and has made these recordings free and available for use by any United Methodist church in Minnesota. Your church will need a CCLI license to use some of these hymns. Please credit the musicians of Hilltop UMC when using the recordings.
Although we won't be able to enjoy packed-full sanctuaries on Christmas Eve, there are a variety of ways to gather safely and to celebrate the coming of Jesus. Twin Cities District pastors recently shared some ideas with each other, and they are so creative that we want to lift some of them up to the whole conference:
• send care packages/worship kits with some Christmas items that families can use or enjoy as they embrace the season
• send out instructions for making an Advent wreath or provide “at home hanging of the greens kits,” along with weekly prayers or readings for lighting candles throughout the season (perhaps connecting people who live alone via Zoom so they can do it together)
• have a brief and simple Christmas Eve worship service outdoors (perhaps with a bonfire)
• prepare a Christmas pageant in pictures (kids could dress up in nativity attire and be photographed ahead of time, and then the photos could be shown virtually on Christmas Eve during the telling of the Christmas story)
• host a drive-in Christmas movie in your parking lot using an FM transmitter
• send paper bags to families and ask them to create personalized luminaries to be placed in the sanctuary and used during worship or filmed and photographed
• have a virtual (live or pre-recorded) Christmas pageant using Zoom and/or Facebook Live
• host a drive-through or walk-through Christmas Eve experience outside your church building (perhaps using a life-size nativity scene as part of it)
• host an Advent book study
• plan a socially distanced Christmas carol sing in your church parking lot
• dependent on how COVID-19 case numbers are looking in December, instead of a big single Christmas worship service, host a series of brief and small “Carols by Candlelight” services in the weeks leading up to Christmas (have people make reservations so you can adhere to capacity limits you set)
In his new book, “Hope: An Advent Journey,” Rev. Olu Brown encourages readers to reclaim Advent as something already here, not a season waiting to arrive. Matthew’s gospel speaks of Jesus as Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” This name does not speak of the future, but of the present. The book reminds us that our hope is not based on external situations, but on eternal promises.
Brown offers a variety of free resources related to the book that congregations could use, including sermon starters, PowerPoint slides, liturgies and song selections, and various small group studies. Learn more
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church