Christmas 2020

  Christmas 2020  
The Tentative Plan for
Christmas Eve and Day

SERVICE CHANGE to Christmas DAY - now two services
 
Christmas Eve and Day mark one of the biggest holidays of the Church Year.  Celebrating the birth of Jesus, our Savior from sin and death, is no small matter!  Beyond the religious significance, Christmas also carries so much personal importance- family memories, traditions, and practices, many of which will be different this year whether we want them to be or not. 

Please review the protocols and Q & A below before signing up for the services that are listed at the bottom of this page.  We know this is more inconvenient than how we are accustomed to worshipping, but if we are ever called to resist ungodly orders we must first show our willingness to obey and comply to orders that do not infringe on the Gospel.  We must resist the temptations to works of the flesh such as anger or dissension and instead pursue the fruit of the Spirit as we deal with one another in these trying circumstances. So put on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. 
 
Protocols for Attending Christmas Eve/Day
A PRIMARY CAVEAT:  Is attending Church safe?  We cannot guarantee that. Even if all the protocols were followed perfectly all the time, attending a worship service should still be considered an activity that risks exposure to Covid-19.
               + multiple households are present
               + services are longer than 20-30 minutes
               + attendees are seated instead of ambulatory (the difference between church and shopping)
               + the sanctuary is a closed, indoor space with limited ventilation
We want every attendee to understand these risks and use their own free choice in making their decision.  What we do not want is for people to attend believing or feeling it is “safe” when there is definite risk associated with it.
 
SICK: If you are sick or symptomatic you must stay home until well. It will be very tempting to say, “I’m sure it’s just a cold, I don’t want to miss Christmas.” People have been very good about not attending Sunday services if they notice symptoms. In other churches it has been weddings and funerals where people downplay their symptoms, attend the once-in-a-lifetime services, and outbreaks occur.  A holiday like Christmas has that potential, so we ask every individual to be thoughtful, aware of their symptoms, and act responsibly.

MASKS: Churches are not exempt from the Governor’s “Mask Mandate”. The exemptions that are provided in his executive order are:
(1)  “Individuals with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that makes it unreasonable for the individual to maintain a face covering… [and] children who are five years old and under”. (section 8, “Exempt Individuals”)
(2) “When testifying, speaking, or performing in an indoor business or public indoor space, in situations or settings such as theaters, news conferences, legal proceedings, governmental meetings subject to the Open Meeting Law (Minnesota Statutes 2019, Chapter 13D), presentations, or lectures, provided that social distancing is always maintained.” (sec. 10, “Circumstances where mandatory face coverings may be temporarily removed”, letter C.)
These exemptions mean that your pastors can remove their masks to lead the Service when meeting physical distance guidelines, as we have been doing.  These also mean that you may see fellow members who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons.  Please be mindful that they may wish to be present at church, but are not obligated to reveal why they are not wearing a mask.  Likewise, the pastors and Safety Team members of St. John’s have no authority or ability to police who has legitimate exemptions.  We cannot and will not ask for your reasons if you arrive without a mask.  Do not worry about your medical or mental health privacy being invaded.  We expect all the members of the Body of Christ to act in good faith and in accord with their conscience, so we will extend the same good faith toward you.  Beyond our inability to police exemptions, St. John’s pastors and volunteers also have no possible way of enforcing this mandate on members or visitors who choose to attend without obeying the Governor’s mandate.

ATTENDANCE LIMITS & PHYSICAL DISTANCING: The maximum attendance limits that you see on the sign-up are our Deacon Council’s best estimates that could meet the two criteria: less than 50% of seating capacity and able to physically distance.  It is the responsibility of attendees to space themselves out household by household, utilizing all available space.  If a service is at its limit the Pastors, Safety Team, and Ushers can use their discretion to admit and find seating so that no one is turned away.

SINGING: MN Department of Health does not recommend congregational singing, but does state that if a congregation sings masking and distancing are required. 

HYMNALS:  MN Department of Health has stated that sharing hymnals across services “poses no significant risk of spreading Covid-19” so we do use hymnals during the services.  We ask you to leave them on your pew seat as this helps us target out cleaning in between services.
Questions & Answers
I normally attend Christmas Eve and Day, can I still attend multiple services?  Absolutely, please sign up for each service separately.

Will services be Live Streamed?  Yes, we are offering three different service settings this Christmas and one of each will be streamed at www.facebook.com/STJLutheran/Live

Can visitors attend?  Yes, please sign up and also get in touch with the Church Office or Pastors if you have any questions before your visit.

What if the government or the church needs to change services or attendance?  If people sign up on Sign-up Genius with their email and phone number we should be able to easily contact you.  We will also email the congregation email list (notify secretary@stjlutheran.org if you need to be added to that). And we will update this page of the website.  Check back often if you want to verify details. 

Sign-up Genius Assistance:  If you or someone you know does not have internet access or has struggled with Sign-up Genius, please have them call the Church Office where our staff will be happy to sign them up for a service.  Also, if you need to swap, delete, or add people to an entry, they can assist you.
 
Services & Sign-ups
The Traditional Christmas Eve Lessons & Carols – Dec. 24 at 3:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m.
If those fill up early we will add a 7:00 p.m.
Sign up HERE  

The Christmas Midnight Divine ServiceDec. 24 at 11:00 p.m.
New to St. John’s, but known and loved by many of our members who grew up in other LCMS churches
Holy Communion will be offered using the Chalice
Sign up HERE
 
The Christmas Day Divine Services – Dec. 25 at 8:00 & 10:30 a.m.
Holy Communion will be offered using the chalice at 8a.m. and individual glasses at 10:30a.m.
Sign up HERE