LANSING, Mich. — What does a church do to help the community celebrate Christmas when the coronavirus has brought traditional Christmas celebrations to a screeching halt? That was the question the staff of Northpointe Community Church wrestled with in early October.
“Our Christmas Eve services with carols and candlelight have been such an important part of family Christmas celebrations for years,” said Lead Pastor Rick Ruble, “but we didn’t feel like it was wise this year to bring people together for in-person services.”
Planning several months into the future in the midst of the pandemic was difficult because of the uncertainty of how the virus would continue to impact mid-Michigan.
“We knew one thing – people were going to experience a huge sense of loss this year. Loss of time with their extended family or friends, loss of cherished family traditions, and a loss of joy and hope because of the shut-downs. We thought it made sense to lean into that sense of loss,” said Chris Carter, Connections Minister.
And the sense of loss became the theme as they planned a virtual Christmas Eve service. The whimsical theme, “Christmas in Coronaville,” focuses on the loss Mary, Joseph, and the Shepherds experienced that first Christmas, even in the midst of their joy at Jesus’ birth.
The church’s Director of Community Impact, Aimee Beltran, suggested the idea of a light display in the church parking lot. “The whole idea was that families could stay covid-safe in their car but experience something beautiful and fun together, and somehow we could tie that into the virtual Christmas Eve service,” Beltran said.
As the team worked together, one final idea was introduced. Ruble recalled, “Jake Howard, our Family Life Minister said, ‘Let’s give each family a gift that that they can open multiple times while they experience the Christmas Eve service at home. Moms, dads, and kids will be able to create a great memory together!’”
The “Christmas in Coronaville” drive-through light experience features over 20,000 lights and thirty-eight different displays with different characters and a special appearance by the Greater Lansing Ballet Academy. The event is covid-safe, free, and the first 500 vehicles will receive a gift to enhance Northpointe’s virtual Christmas Eve service. “Christmas in Coronaville” will take place nightly December 20-23 from 6-9 pm at Northpointe Community Church, 505 E. Webb, in DeWitt.
For more information, visit www.ChristmasInCoronaville.com.
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