As we look ahead to the holiday season, we are all aware that things won’t be the same this year. We’ve re-imagined the Road to Bethlehem as a drive-thru event. The Joyful Ringers will live stream their annual holiday concert. Christmas Eve worship will be limited in numbers and singing. At times, it will be a struggle to stay focused on the promise of Christmas.
But did you know this isn’t the only time our country (and the world) has faced a pandemic over the holidays? The Spanish Flu of 1918 spiked at about this same time of the year, but 102 years ago the country was also celebrating the end of WWI. If you think 2020 has been hard, imagine coming home from war to a hometown fighting its own war on a virus. Imagine celebrating the end of a war, even as you continue to fight a pandemic. Imagine loosing a loved one in the war and another in the pandemic. Yes, we have had a difficult year and it isn’t likely to be easier anytime soon. Yes, we are mourning the traditions and family time that has been lost. But, this has happened before and this too shall pass.
On this first Sunday of Advent, the scriptures this Sunday speak of darkness and light; hope and promise; forgiveness and restoration. They are scriptures that cry out to God on behalf of all the people. A corporate and unified request for God’s presence and power.
Advent is a time of returning, restoring, and reshaping. It is a time to refocus our faith and reclaim who we are. It’s also a time of remembering; not only the story of Christ but also our history in the last 2000 years as the people of God. It is a time to remember and reflect. A time to return to God and allow the potter to reshape us and restore us. A time to remember that this too shall pass.
I hope you will join us in person or online during this holiday season as we re-imagine Christmas in a way that will inspire us and restore us in the middle of a pandemic. Sometimes the things we are forced to do differently open us to new understandings and new meaning.
9am Worship in the Great Hall and at www.facebook.com/hawleyumc/live
11am Sunday Fusion Worship and Education in the Great Hall
Want to learn more about the holidays in 1918? Rich Betz posted this article earlier this week and I went back and read it again as I prepared to write this post. It points out a lot of similarities between 2020 and 1918.