I’m holding on to the words spoken by an angel to shepherds that we heard on Sunday: “Do not be afraid—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.”
While the news of a new wave of COVID infections is not one of “great joy,” we know that the larger truth of the Christmas story is what brings joy into being even in challenging times. We may have to adjust how we gather to worship, but the hope, peace, joy, and love of God remain a force at work in our world and our lives.
Still, the reality is that FBCH is once again adjusting to current regulations and recommendations from the NS Department of Health and Wellness. This update is as of December 14—we will continue to adjust as necessary:
Here is what this means for FBCH:
- Pre-registration for all services is necessary to ensure FBCH gathers within capacity limits that allow for physical distancing in the Sanctuary. You can pre-register on our website (click the “worship in person” button at the top of the FBCH homepage for registration link). If a registration is no longer available, that is an indication FBCH has reached capacity for a given service.
- The pew spacers are back. Please remember that the spacers alternate so that some allow for people (1-2 persons) to sit on the end of pews, while others are designed to have people sit in the centre of a pew (allowing larger family groups).
- Congregational singing is on pause again. In an email to faith leaders on December 14, Dr. Strang stated: “During this time, we strongly recommend that singing only be done by the choir or leader(s) of song, and not by the congregation.” FBCH has made it a practice to follow all recommendations from public health officials. Until current restrictions are lifted, FBCH will return to a hymn soloist and no choir on Sunday mornings.
- Carols by Candlelight will live stream, but there will be no in-person gathering. The choir and readers will be present, but no congregation will be able to gather. This format will allow the choir to physically distance in the Sanctuary and will give us opportunity to optimize sound and video for the online stream. Unfortunately, we were already over new capacity limits with our in-person sign-up—an indication that many were looking forward to being present for Carols by Candlelight (just imagine how joyful it will be to gather for this service in post-COVID time!).
- Christmas Eve Family Service (4:00pm) will be prerecorded and online only. Again, this is typically one of our most well-attended services. However, it is specifically designed for part of our most vulnerable population (children unable to be vaccinated or who are just receiving first doses). Rhonda is already investing creativity in making this a special online service for our entire FBCH family!
- Christmas Eve Candlelight and Communion Service (9:00pm) will be in-person and live streamed. Again, pre-registration is required to attend in-person (click here to register).
We know this will be disappointing for many in our congregational community. Still, together we can nurture joy—it might take a little extra effort this year, but we have so much to be joyful about as we anticipate the coming of Christ into our world and our lives. I close with John 1:4-5 – “In the Word was life, and that life was humanity’s light—a Light that shines in the darkness, a Light that the darkness has never overtaken.”