2021 Advent & Christmas Schedule
Updated plans for Christmas worship – please read
Dear All Angels’ family–
As expected, the current surge of COVID-19 due to the Omicron variant has forced us to scale back our plans for worship in person as we enter into the Christmas season later this week. Though the church will remain open for people to attend services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we are limiting attendance and making significant new adjustments to our health and safety protocols in order to reduce the risk to those gathered and, by extension, anyone with whom they may later come into contact.
As we have said before, we cannot eliminate the risk of the virus being spread to others during a gathering in person, and that risk only increases as more coronavirus circulates in our communities. As you assess whether to attend, please remember your own vulnerability, as well as the people around you. For most of us, the best and safest option this year is to attend worship online. (Immediately following both services on December 24 and 25 there will be a drop-in Zoom coffee hour for anyone who would like to chat informally and connect with other parishioners worshipping remotely.
However, we recognize that our community includes people with particular needs which are best met by attending worship in person. We expect that most people will be able to worship online with us online. But if you are particularly in need of community and spiritual care this Christmas you are welcome to attend in person, and we encourage you to reach out to a member of staff or clergy.
So, for those who choose to enter the building for church this week:
Attendance will be limited to 20 worshippers who must pre-register here.
Attendees must present proof of vaccination and booster at the door.
If proof of vaccination isn’t available, you will be asked to take a rapid COVID test before entering the building. We have a VERY limited number of these tests available for use at both Christmas services, please bring proof of vaccination if you have it.
All attendees must wear an N95 or KN95 face mask. We will have an abundant supply of these at the door, with different styles to choose from. Both allow for easy breathing and provide superior protection to either cloth or surgical masks.
Attendees will remain distanced during the service, including during the passing of the peace.
Any children under five will be directed to the nursery for the duration of the service and will not join their parents in the sanctuary at any point. (Though children are less likely to have severe outcomes from COVID-19, they can also carry it asymptomatically and pass it on to others who are at a higher risk.)
Please be prepared to bundle up, as the windows will be open to allow for better air flow in the space. The upgraded MERV filters and additional air purifiers will also be in use.
The Morning Prayer service scheduled for Zoom this Sunday, 12/26, will be held online as originally planned. It is likely that we will continue the above requirements for in-person worship when regular services resume on January 2, but please watch the weekly announcements for more updated information as the situation evolves.
Your clergy and wardens have undertaken these decisions prayerfully and in close consultation with a public health professional on our vestry. We recognize the considerable cost of remaining apart after all this time, and we share your grief over all that has been lost during this unrelenting pandemic. The first verse of In the Bleak Midwinter has felt particularly apt this week:
In the bleak midwinter
frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone:
snow had fallen,
snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter,
Yet in the darkness of this bleak midwinter in which we find ourselves, we are not without hope. As this carol also reminds us, our primary act of devotion this Christmas is to give Jesus our heart. We pray that you will find a way to do that this season whether you join us online or in-person. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not, cannot, and will never overcome it.
Come, thou long-expected Jesus.
The clergy and wardens
The liturgical season of Advent marks the beginning of the Christian year. We light a candle each Sunday through the four weeks leading up to Christmas and hear texts and sing songs that remind us to wait for God in Christ to come and fulfill all God’s promises to his people. And “In our waiting,” as former All Angels’ parishioner Bobby Gross writes so beautifully, “we are enlarged.” Bobby continues
“In Advent we focus on three ‘comings’ of Christ: his arrival in history as a baby born of Mary, his return in fearsome glory at the end of time and his intermediate entrance into our own lives. During Advent we are engaged by the prophets of Israel–Isaiah, Zephaniah, Micah, Malachi–and their messianic visions. We are confronted by John the Baptists’s stern call to prepare for Jesus by repenting. We are beckoned to walk with Mary and Joseph in their anxiety and expectation. We are sobered by the teachings of Jesus and his apostles on the judgment to come at the end of the age.”*
And so from Sunday, November 28 through Sunday, December 19, we celebrate Advent and practice waiting for the Lord, preparing the way for his coming afresh in our lives and in our world. In fact, we remember that the world is his and so are we, so we wait, even long, for his glorious reign to come “on earth as it is in heaven.” You are warmly invited to join us for worship this December and enter this waiting for the Lord.