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The holiday season is upon us! At least, it is if you count Halloween as the beginning of the season.
We know that this holiday season will be a unique adventure. While the sanctuary was open for in-person worship for the first time since March this morning, if COVID numbers in Chicago continue on their upward trend, we may have to close the building again. (Regardless of what happens in the building, we will still be hosting the service virtually on Zoom and Facebook Live.) We cannot gather in large groups for our usual holiday meals and events, at least, not in person. We aren’t really sure what we’ll be doing, or how we’ll be doing it, for observances of Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas. What we do know is that we will figure something out and the holidays will still happen.
What will Thanksgiving be like this year? We won’t be able to gather for our large community Thanksgiving Dinner – that’s a given. Will we find some other ways to meet the needs of those who look forward to that meal for hot food and warm fellowship? I hope so, whether that happens as congregational effort, or as the efforts of individuals caring for their neighbors. I also hope that, even in a year of so much loss and uncertainty, we will remember to give thanks for what and who we do have in our lives.
What will Advent look like this year? We don’t yet know whether or not we will be able to gather in the sanctuary when Advent begins on Sunday, November 29. Will we be able to light the candles of the Advent wreath together at church, or will we light candles (in wreaths or just a collection) in our homes? We don’t know that yet, either, but I would encourage you to think about finding or creating an Advent wreath for your home either way. You can make a simple one with air-dry clay and birthday candles, or use four random candles you have in your house, or even buy an Advent wreath and coordinating candles. The observance of the tradition, no matter how different it may feel, will help us to stay connected in this time when we feel so uprooted.
What will the next month be like? We don’t know. I don’t know. To a certain extent, we are making it up as we go along, and that’s okay. God works in startling ways and through surprising (and often surprised) people! Join me in intentional openness to the new, even as we enter a season when we engage in age-old traditions. I don’t know what it will look, sound, or feel like, yet, but I trust that God will be with us, no matter what.