We’ve compiled some excellent ideas and resources for Advent and Christmas at a time when large, in-person gatherings are not possible. We will continue to add to this page in the coming weeks. If you have or know of a great resource you think we should add, email us.
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
The Cabinet and conference staff are preparing a pre-recorded worship service for congregations to use the Sunday after Christmas (Dec. 27). It will be distributed to clergy before Christmas and can be streamed or shared using the channel(s) each church typically uses.
Consider giving yourself, your worship team, and your tech support people a much needed Christmas break!
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church