Christmas Eve 2021: A Word About Public Health

Dear Church,

We know. Plans are in flux again for Christmas Eve, and you are struggling to decide what is right for your communities. There are loud voices, and you are trying to listen well for the right ones. We see you, and we are holding you in prayer. We know that our faith communities are facing a difficult winter, and you need to feel held by one another.
As you consider what shifts you might need to make, we invite you use this framing from our friend, Rev. Laura Everett at the Massachusetts Council of Churches:
“We need to be having honest conversations about what are the essential reasons to gather and what things are not essential.”
Is it essential?
A few thoughts on things you might consider:
1. Shifting at least one of your services outdoors to ensure maximum safety, and more ability for congregational singing. Did you know we have congregations who are meeting outdoors year round?
2. Shifting one, or more of your services online in some form for those who may not be able to, or feel comfortable attending in person.
3. Reducing capacity to maximize other precautions.
As always, NHCC recommends increased ventilation and masking indoors in keeping with good public health protocols.
Our state healthcare system is under enormous strain, and it is our collective responsibility to do all we can to care for it. Vaccination and boosters remain among our most powerful tools to help do so. Ensuring maximum precautions in our gathering is the best possible way to live out the arrival of God’s incarnate Love among us.  So many of you are already doing this with such intentionality, and grace.
We are grateful for each of you, and your ministries in your communities across the State of NH. With each pivoted plan, and increased precaution, you are living out the greatest commandment to love your neighbor. I can’t think of anything that is truer to the Christmas spirit than that.  The good news is that there is not one thing you can do to keep God from being born into the world God created whether gathered online, in person, or outdoors.
May the light of Christ be yours this season and always.
Rev. Heidi