Even though public worship returned in many South Australian churches in July, Pastor Fin Klein has a seemingly strange message for members of St Michael’s Lutheran Church Hahndorf this Christmas Eve: Stay home.
Of course, that’s not the end of the story. Each member family of the Adelaide Hills congregation is encouraged to invite neighbours, friends or extended family over to share fellowship, food and to watch 7pm worship via community TV or the internet. The hope is to have 50 to 60 St Michael’s members host as many guests as possible, according to government regulations.
In other years, St Michael’s would welcome up to 800 people to its main Christmas Eve service. Those numbers mean the congregation, which partners with Lutheran Media to live-stream a weekly service, needs to hold the service in its carpark. This year, with physical-distancing regulations, even that won’t be big enough – hence the encouragement for congregation members to form a network of house churches.
And anyone who would like to join in can be connected into a group to share worship, which will include pre-recorded elements such as a nativity drama.
‘We asked ourselves, “How do we use this still to give God the glory at Christmas?”’, Pastor Fin says. ‘It’s a big step of faith … We know what we’ve lost, but now’s the time to find out what we’ve gained in the process, including those smaller connections which are a gift from God.’
‘The outdoor service was an outreach event … but it’s busy, so you can’t make meaningful connections’, says Music and Worship Coordinator Anna Klatt. ‘Having it in people’s homes is a lot more intentional in terms of making connections.’
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