In the bleak midwinter. Do you know that lovely Christmas carol? My congregation’s youth choir sings it every year at the end of their pageant. The lights are dimmed, and the choristers process slowly down the center aisle of our old limestone church, holding candles and singing. When they get to the back, they turn, stand in a circle, sing the last verse, and then, all together, they blow out their candles, leaving the church in near darkness. Oh, yes, it’s very effective.
This year, due to the pandemic, there won’t be a pageant with all the choristers, friends, and families gathered together in our beloved church. We’ll all be in our respective homes—and the pageant will be online!
I really admire the choristers’ resilience. I know they grieved the pageant they knew, but then they figured out how to present their pageant in a different way. They might be physically apart, but they’re spiritually together. And the friends and families will be too, all of us gathered around our respective screens. Physically apart, but spiritually together.
There’s resilience among the women who love Women of the ELCA, too. I’ve heard stories of how women are staying connected via the internet. There’s a congregational unit in Pennsylvania that gets together virtually for the Gather magazine Bible study. The Virginia Synodical Women’s Organization had a big Thankoffering service online. And who knows how many other circles and units and synodical organizations are using the phones and the internet to stay spiritually together? Thanks be to God—and to the creativity and resilience of God’s people—we can keep in touch in more ways than we ever could have before.
Many of us stay connected with friends and family during this extraordinary time via Zoom or Facebook Live or Facetime or whatever—there are several videoconference services now. My own family gathered three generations from all over the Great Lakes states on Thanksgiving via Zoom. And the oldest uncles are nearly 80! If they can do it (especially the grouchy one), anybody can.
Let’s face it: Winter’s going to be hard this year, but we don’t have to confront it without our sisters. We can connect by phone, by mail, by email, and online. Let’s make a point of it. Let’s stay connected. It’ll make our midwinter a lot less bleak.
The churchwide women’s organization is sponsoring some of these ways to connect: Our Facebook page is always lively. There’s our Dear Friend in Christ letter exchange for those who like to write and receive letters (and who doesn’t love to get a letter?). Boldcafe is organizing monthly online dinners with popular speakers (B.Y.O.D.—bring your own dinner). We’re even holding a Blue Christmas Service on December 21, which you can join by Zoom after you register here.
How are the women of your congregational unit connecting? What about your synodical women’s organization? Tell others about it either here or on our Facebook page. That’s a great way to help others stay connected, too.
Audrey Novak Riley is director for stewardship for Women of the ELCA. Feature photo by Jim Veneman of the Tenth Triennial Gathering choir.
Your generous Thankofferings and “Where Needed Most” gifts help the churchwide women’s organization keep these connections strong. Please give online at welca.org/give, or mail your check, made out to Women of the ELCA with either “Thankoffering” or “Where Needed Most” written on the memo line, to:
Women of the ELCA
c/o ELCA Gift Processing Center
P.O. Box 1809
Merrifield VA 22116-8009.