Keeping Faith Traditions Alive This Holiday Season

By Rev. Jeremy Shoulta, Senior Pastor, FBC Gainesville

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, faith communities must remain committed to engaging individuals and families who struggle with the mental and emotional strain of pandemic life. This is especially important during a holiday season where annual religious gatherings are suspended. Here are three ways religious communities can work to bless those who are safely isolating in their homes:

Create & Send Homemade Holiday Decorations
While high-end decor, strings of lights and gaudy candles have their place, there is nothing more touching than receiving a personalized, hand-crafted object to display and enjoy. Even more, decorations that call attention to the spiritual nature of the season are especially meaningful for those who cannot gather with their faith communities.

Congregations should encourage and equip their members to create holiday decorations that testify to the sacred nature of Christmas, Hanukkah, etc. This is a particularly simple way in which all ages could connect with and bring joy to vulnerable populations in our communities.

Record & Compile A Virtual Holiday Concert
As the calendar year draws to a close, musicians find themselves in full-on “recital mode,” having prepared pieces for worship services or special performances. On the flipside, there might be individuals in your congregation who yearn for a musical outlet after a year of remote lessons and rehearsals. Why not recruit these gifted individuals to share their talents in an alternative concert setting?

Congregations can invite musicians to perform and record sacred music selections for a virtual holiday concert, which could then be edited and distributed to those who are isolating at home. You likely know someone who possesses the technical skills to obtain these recordings and edit them into a complete “concert experience.” Whether the final product is shared on YouTube or placed on a DVD/CD, your loved ones will be blessed by sacred music and the sight of familiar faces in your congregation.

Share The Sacred Texts Over A Phone Call
Among the greatest losses of 2020 are the regular opportunities to listen to the reading of religious texts in the presence of faith communities. Hearing the scriptures, especially on holy days, allows us to participate in a spiritual practice that has been utilized by congregations for millennia.

Faith communities can organize and encourage its members to contact isolated individuals and offer to read texts associated with holy days. This practice is no substitute for in-person gatherings, but it provides the opportunity to hear and meditate over the scriptures that give meaning to our holiday celebrations. This is another opportunity for intergenerational connections to be made, regardless of denomination.