By Elspeth Kernebone
6 December 2021
CARE, carols and creativity are just some of the ways Melbourne churches plan to approach a Christmas preceded by months of lockdown.
But ministers say their congregations are looking forward just to meeting together, after so much time spent on Zoom.
Merri Creek Anglican senior minister Reverend Peter Carolane said the church was trying to avoid making Christmas a stressful or tiring time for its congregation.
He said it would run an all-ages creative service as one of its main events, allowing people to present a Christmas passage in their own way.
“People have really missed being able to be at church together, but … there’s still this weariness about life, so it’s important for us as leaders of the church to be managing that, and caring for people,” he said.
At St James’ Old Cathedral the Reverend Canon Matt Williams said everyone was watching the news daily, hoping they would be able to meet together for Christmas.
St James’ plans to run a nine lessons and carols service on the final Sunday of Advent, as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.
“There’s always joy in gathering together because we love gathering with saints and angels and the people of God,” Mr Williams said.
“As much as we’ve made it work on Zoom… we always are in a place when we long to be back together face to face.”
Glen Waverley Anglican senior minister Reverend Phil Meulman said the church was really trying to engage with the community, to let them know the good news of Christmas.
He said a Hope for Monash food drive was among the steps they had taken to help those around them.
Mr Meulman said the Christmas message spoke into the hardship of the past 18 months.
“In COVID there’s been a heightened uncertainty from people, and the Christmas story offers hope that no one else can offer. There can be glimpses of peace here on earth, but there won’t be true peace until Christ returns,” he said.
The Christmas services at St John’s Camberwell will also focus around music.
Vicar Father John Baldock said Trinity College Choir had begun the season by singing carols for the first Sunday of Advent, with about 170 attendees.
Father Baldock said his parishioners had stayed engaged during the long periods, and this was helping the church now.
“People have really missed the opportunity to worship together in a larger setting and to sing the things that they love to sing, that give real heart to his season,” he said.
“Everyone was just kind of quietly but excitedly bowled over by the opportunity to do it again.”