How do we celebrate in a year that has held a wide, vast stretch of experiences that will forever be remembered as 2020? Who here feels like February 2020 was another lifetime? I heard something early on in the pandemic that has stuck with me: While we’re all living through the same pandemic, our experiences of it are all different. Some of us have been at home since March with very little contact with the outside world. Others of us have lost our jobs or have had to pivot in our role. Some of us became full-time schedule wranglers/personal assistants/teachers to our kids who are trying to get through online school. Others still have walked around their home all alone for months on end. We’ve lost people we love dearly; we have had to rethink and replan, wait and see over and over. Our world has shuttered and shifted and shook for many a reason. And yet, here we are — the calendar has brought us to the holiday season. With the weight this year has brought, it can feel almost traitorous to talk about celebrating, but I think the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1 are a great reminder: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven …” There is a time to thank God for the gifts — tiny to titanic — that He’s brought to us. There is a time to set our eyes on the hope of Jesus and remember He came to this earth to live among us, to be near.
So … how do we go about celebrating this year? I think we do what we’ve been doing since March — the best we can. Taking care to make safe, responsible decisions for ourselves, our families and our community, we keep our eyes on Jesus and we celebrate His never-ending care and kindness toward us. Yes, your holiday celebrations will look different this year, but there’s still plenty to celebrate. Here are a few ideas on celebrating and marking the season with your people, on looking after each other and keeping our eyes on Jesus.
Don’t just assume that your friends and family are doing well based on what you see on social media or because they haven’t reached out. It’s been a challenging year for everyone and a note or call from you will remind them they’re not alone.
Remind each other of the truth.
Are there a few Bible verses that have meant a lot to you this year? Share them with your people or memorize them as a celebration of God’s care this year.
Make a list of things that have been gifts this year.
Small, big, everyday or once-in-a-lifetime — God has been kind to all of us this year in many different ways. Make a list of new things, old things, things you’ve always taken for granted until this year and let’s celebrate the grace of God in our lives extra this year.
Find an Advent study to go through.
Advent is a church rhythm of celebrating the first arrival of Jesus. It’s a chance to prepare your heart between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day to look towards the hope of Christmas and Jesus’ gift of coming to save us from our sins. There are all kinds of books and studies that you can do — look to see if your favorite writer has one, stop by the Link Bookstore on the Fort Worth Campus or check out the Advent studies made by She Reads Truth and He Reads Truth.
Rework favorite traditions.
We may not be able to gather in the kinds of groups and crowds we’re used to, but are there traditions that you can rework so you can still do them while being safe and socially distant? If you normally drive around looking at Christmas lights with a big group, maybe caravan in separate cars with walkie-talkies this year? If you normally go Black Friday shopping, have a Zoom meetup and shop online together. If you watch holiday movies together, Netflix and other streaming sites have a way you can watch together from separate locations. Whatever your tradition is, there’s probably a way to rethink it for 2020.
Serve with Angel Tree or Operation Christmas Child
If you can’t serve in person with friends or your small group, consider shopping online for Angel Tree or Operation Christmas Child. You can assemble your OCC boxes/Angel Tree bag at home and then drop them off at church. Click here to learn more.
Expect some tears and embrace the awkwardness.
You know what’s messy and real life? Loss. Fear. Doubts. Questions. This year has been full of alllllll that and then some. If you have friends or family members who are struggling, don’t run away. Instead, sit with them (even if it’s over Facetime or Zoom) and bear whatever the burden is with them. Be a friend and listen.
Leave a meal or care package on someone’s porch.
Do you know someone who’s having to stay at home all the time these days? Or maybe you have people in your circle who have recently be exposed to Covid or tested positive? Drop off groceries, a Thanksgiving pie, a book or care package of some sort. Leave a note and tell them you’ll FaceTime soon.
Share your hope.
We are loved by a great God who is holding all things together. He is for us and He is with us. And because He loves us, there are so many reasons to sing and celebrate. Share that hope with the people you come in contact with this holiday season — the world needs to hear it.
GriefShare: Surviving the Holidays
This Saturday, Nov. 21
10 a.m. on Zoom
Cost: $9 per person
When you’re grieving a loved one’s death, it’s not unusual to wish you could skip over the whole holiday season. That’s why we want to help give you some practical wisdom and advice for navigating Thanksgiving and Christmas. At Surviving the Holidays we’ll talk about what to do with favorite traditions, how to handle the big emotions and where to look for real hope.