Dear Friends of the Redeemer,
As we enter into the fourth week of the Advent season, I can say without hesitation, that this has been the most joyous and wonderful Advent I have ever had. We began with the overwhelming beauty of Advent Lessons and Carols, the remarkable and hopeful Christmas Market and Auction, an early Christmas present in the visit of our friend Bishop Dorsey McConnell, and still with so much more to come! Christmas Lessons and Carols tonight, Advent IV, the Christmas Pageant, Christmas Eve with brass and timpani, and the quiet beauty of Christmas Day all await us. What an extraordinary season the Lord has given!
And all of this has felt wonderfully normal. Attendance has grown every week as children are vaccinated and boosters are had. Smiling faces of those we haven't seen in almost two years return to enjoy the gift of Christian community, transcendent worship and God's abiding love for the world in the coming of Jesus Christ. It has been a gift.
But, I would like to offer a word of caution as we travel towards Christmas Eve. COVID-19 is still among us. Even with the gift of vaccines for kids and boosters, the arrival of the Omicron variant means that breakthrough cases are happening along with reinfections. I believe this is a time not for fear but for vigilance. With Christmas Eve coming and the desire of normal within so many of us, crowded worship spaces will be a reality we will soon face. So I offer here some vigilant actions we can take together specifically around Christmas Eve.
1. If you are sick, please stay home. A sniffle might be just a sniffle, but just in case it isn't, please consider tuning in for the live-streams of our coming liturgies. I have committed the Redeemer to hybrid worship opportunities indefinitely. So if you are feeling under the weather, please stay warm and comfy and tune in on Facebook or YouTube.
2. Be mask vigilant. Masks are the best protection we have in public indoor places. Please be vigilant with your mask ensuring it covers your nose and mouth before, during and after a service at the Redeemer. It's a small price to pay to be together in the joy of the Christmas season.
3. Use the whole space. Beginning tonight, we are opening every pew for worshippers. Please make sure to spread out where you can. I know you love your customary seats (I love knowing where you will be from the pulpit!) but if you can, make some space between your family and others just in case.
4. Bring your coat. Windows and doors will be open throughout the winter even as the HVAC system recirculates the air through our ultraviolet filters. This helps reduce any viral load in the space, but it can get chilly. (I will probably be wearing extra vestments!) So, please bring a coat or a sweater to stay warm.
This Advent has been an absolute joy, and our Christmas season looks to be even better. Please remain vigilant, get those boosters, wear those masks, and join in the sacred mystery of this most glorious season.
Warmly, Vigilantly, and Hopeful,