Dear Cathedral Family,
This will be a Christmas like none we have known in our lifetimes. When in-person worship was suspended due to the pandemic during Lent and lasted to Easter, many of us assumed that by Christmas we would have returned to our usual patterns of worship and gathering. Obviously, that has not been the case. In fact, we are now witnessing another surge in COVID cases. We are all being encouraged by government and public health officials to limit our travel and gatherings this holiday season. Many of us will be experiencing a much smaller Christmas than usual.
I am deeply thankful for your faithfulness in worship by new means during this unique time of God, as well as for your faithfulness in supporting the evolving ministries of Christ Church Cathedral through your stewardship.
And I am thankful for the tremendous work of the Cathedral staff in navigating a steep learning curve and quickly adding new layers of ministry to their work as we moved most of our life together to online and streaming platforms. When we returned to limited in-person worship in September, they worked hard to ensure the safety and well being of those who returned to worship in our spaces while continuing to provide resources to those who have been unable to do so.
The Cathedral Family members and friends who have attended in-person worship have taken good care to observe all of our many new protocols, all designed to demonstrate our love for one another. We have been able to expand our worship to include up to 100 people at a time in person, and your response on Sundays and Wednesdays has been positive.
For these reasons, we have moved forward with planning three in-person worship services for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, all requiring registration beforehand and observance of our existing protocols. We have added a family service at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and the response to this new time and experience has been strong. Our 5:30 p.m. service, with prelude music beginning at 5 p.m. is full. The Christmas Day service at 10 a.m. still has plenty of room, and it is always an especially peaceful worship time. Both 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. services will be live streamed.
We have missed seeing each other through most of this year, and it seems especially painful to miss the excitement and energy that have always marked Christmas Eve at Christ Church. For many of us, this doesn’t feel like Christmas. And yet, it is—and in this year more than ever we need to experience the hope, peace, joy, and love that the coming again of the Christ child brings. I hope that all of you, no matter your circumstances this year, will find some way to worship at home: light candles, enter the silence of the holy night and blessed day, recall the wonderful story once again, and above all hold the light of Christ within yourselves and share it with others.
Worship on Sunday, December 27 will be live stream only, and a link is provided in this email. Bishop Russell has graciously offered to all the churches in the diocese a worship service put together by the diocesan staff, in which he will preach. This will allow clergy and staff of all of our churches to have a day of rest right after Christmas, and it gives us all the gift of worshiping together with our bishop, as the Body of Christ in our diocese.
I hope and pray that you all will know the blessings of this season in a new and deeper way this year and that you will experience the light of Christ coming into our world at a time when we need it so much.
May you know God’s peace,