January 19, 2021

Churches and Chapels Review Holiday Services – News of Their Faith

DENVER – On the first night of Hanukkah, hundreds of people show up for a latte cooking contest at Temple Micah. Families bring their monorails, light candles, potato pancakes to the party, award prizes and songs.

As with the corona virus infection, it should come as no surprise that this year’s celebration is virtual.

“We have some people who can prove Latke cooking online,” said Rabbi Adam Morris. “I imagine a zoom screen with all the Hanukkah lights on.”

As for faith communities, Govt-19 has improved traditions and suspended annual festivals in churches and synagogues, forcing rabbis, pastors and priests to redesign Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations and reconsider their message to believers.

David Thatcher, pastor of the Holy Transfiguration of Christ’s Orthodox Cathedral, said: “My basic message is that as Americans we have some illusions, and we control all of these.

As cases increase across the United States, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Has issued strict guidelines for assembling places of worship. For those who still provide personal services, instead of hundreds of people in sanctuaries, there are only dozens, and they have to wear social distance and masks.

Nearly 300,000 people in the United States have died from Govt-19, and their loved ones are mourning, hope leaders say, adding to the holiday season with sadness and loss.

Rabbi Eve Ludman of Pinoy Howrah in Denver said of the holiday season, “We are experiencing all kinds of grief and all kinds of losses.”To Rachel Wolf / NBC News

It’s easy for me to say, “Look at the bright side,” said Eve Ludman, Rabbi of Pinoy Howrah. “We are experiencing all kinds of grief and all kinds of loss. The worst thing you can do when you experience grief is to whiten it and say, ‘I’m fine, let’s move on.’

Lutman, who is hosting this year’s Hanukkah song festival at Zoom, said the effort was to help members understand the times a little.

“How sad it would be if we missed this unique place and time to recognize the opportunity to make the world better,” he said, “using it as an opportunity to heal the wound.”

Rabbi Morris at Temple Micah compared this holiday season to a chocolate chip cookie without the chocolate chips – it could still taste better, but it wasn’t.

“It’s not the unspoken quality of a touch or a sight or what you can do where you feel the spirit,” he said. “When you have room for people to sing together, something happens. We miss it.”

Rabbi Adam Morris of Temple Micah in Denver said of Virtual Services this year: “When you have a people’s room singing together, something happens, we miss it.” To Rachel Wolf / NBC News

Not all churches are willing to accept government restrictions on assembly. Two churches in the suburbs of Denver, the Community Baptist Church and the Denver Bible Church have sued the government over continued home worship.

A federal judge ruled in their favor in October, saying they could not force the government to wear masks or limit meetings. The following month, the US Supreme Court ruled that restricting capacity in places of worship and religious events was unconstitutional.

Colorado admitted earlier this month that state restrictions could not be enforced by a High Court ruling.

A Study by Parade Magazine and the Cleveland Clinic Only 9 percent of those surveyed said they plan to attend holiday services this year, the lowest since 2017. Pew Research Center More than half of those surveyed said they go to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Martin Lawley, a pastor who has led the Holy Family Catholic Church in Denver for eight years, says 300 people usually close his church during Christmas and knock on doors. The sanctuary will be adorned with Christmas trees, poinsettias and garlands and trains with red bows.

This year, only 50 people will be allowed inside, and the children’s competition and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day masses will be recorded before they can be viewed on YouTube or Facebook. If nothing else, the plague taught people perseverance: “The message of the Scriptures is, ‘Stay there, God is with us.’

In Temple Micah, Morris makes a similar comment.

“We’re trying to be present and help people feel connected,” he said. “For me, God exists. Continue. To bring meaning to each other, to bring compassion to our world. Continue.”

Nathan Adams, leading pastor at Park Hill United Methodist Church, distributed kits to associates with a script to follow with the virtual Christmas service. To Rachel Wolf / NBC News

Nathan Adams, the leading pastor of the Park Hill United Methodist Church, personally canceled Christmas services, which usually included carols, candlelight vigils and the Holy Communion. Instead, they will run a virtual, new camera and audio system and California-based production company from Los Angeles.

“The great traditions that people can see or experience or participate in, we are still going to do it in these services, but do them in a way that, as much as we can, let people know there is no room with us,” Adams said.

The church distributed kits to fellows with candles, lyrics and a script for the service. Livestream will have a chat feature that allows ministers and people to engage with each other. When it comes to sacred unity, most things go all the way.

“We encourage everyone to use what they have at home,” Adams said. “If you have bread and juice, it’s great. If you have tortilla chips and water or soda, it’s yours. The Holy Spirit can move whatever your organs are. The grace of God is still there.”

At Christmas, he points to John 1: 5 in the New Testament: “Light that shineth in darkness, and darkness shall not pass over it.”