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If there’s one thing that 2020 and 2021 have taught us, it is that we are not doing things “as usual.” Remember the old standby saying, “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Well, NOT anymore! We have had to come up with newer and better ways to get the job done. From Zoom meetings and YouTube services to serving the Eucharist in a safe and secure manner, from practicing social distancing to wearing gloves and masks…

Last year, for the first time ever, Holy Trinity held a Christmas Eve service outdoors on the chapel porch.

Your priest probably did not sign up to be a televangelist preacher, but desperate times bring desperate measures to get the word of God to the flock. I remember that early in 2020 we were televising our service with only the clergy and a few engineers who were able to set up a cell phone camera on a tripod, and all the parishioners who could figure out how to tune in attended the service via their cell phone or computer. Today, we have professional cameras to televise to all who are not ready to return to church, but our church is back to holding four weekend services — one on Saturday night and three on Sunday morning — and we’re already planning for a glorious holiday season. 

Last year, for the first time ever, we held a Christmas Eve service outdoors. That seemed to be the only way to get some of our parishioners back to church. Fortunately for us, our church (Holy Trinity) is in Melbourne, Florida — Christmas Eve was not too cold and the rain held off until after our service. Thank you, God. 

With the altar set on our chapel porch, parishioners gathered in their lawn chairs in the parking lot — some came with a warm drink to enjoy during the service. Besides the altar, the porch was decorated with a lighted Christmas tree, wreaths on the doors, a lighted pine garland and bows on the railing, and musicians set up on the porch. The adjoining courtyard was decorated with a manger scene and lights. We wanted to show the joy of Christ to the neighborhood, so we lit up the porch and courtyard every night using a timer. It was a spectacular display.

We’re not sure what COVID protocols will be in effect for Christmas 2021, but we are planning to decorate our chapel porch and courtyard in preparation for a possible outdoor service and to show all who pass-by that we are open and inviting attendees. We are so fortunate to be able to offer this as a service to those who have not yet felt comfortable to return to indoor church. We continue to pray that the protocols will be lifted and more of our flock will return by Christmas Eve.

Submitted by Judy Henderson, Province IV, Central Florida Diocesan Altar Guild

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