On Christmas Eve, the English Tudor-style chapel with stained glass windows and exposed beams is usually decorated with garlands, poinsettias and little white lights as generations of families and friends gather much the same way the congregation of First United Methodist Church of Seal Beach has done each year on this night for more than a century. And for the past 20-plus years or so, my family has been among them.
Sitting close together on long wooden pews, we listened to the Christmas story, sang hymns and, after taking communion, filed into the adjacent social hall where, one by one, we lit handheld candles in the semidarkness and sang every verse of “Silent Night.” And as the song drew to a close, we raised the slender white tapers that illuminated the circle of familiar faces and seemed to reflect the simple message of love at the heart and soul of the Christmas spirit.
This year, due to precautionary measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, the celebration will be virtual. Will it still choke me up the way it does every year? I’m not sure. However, like congregants of myriad churches all over the Southland, I will be logging in online anyway, in front of my own decorations, perhaps with my own candles, Sunday best optional.
“These are the days when we really need to know that we’re loved and cared for and that COVID is not the end-all,” said the Rev. Tia Wildermuth of First United Methodist Church Seal Beach.
“Christmas Eve is a time to remember that God brought Christ into the world and to celebrate what that means in our lives,” said Wildermuth. “It’s always worth tuning in somewhere to hear the music, the Scriptures again, and open yourself up to the Holy Spirit. … Amazing things happen when we open ourselves to God.”
In adherence to health and safety pandemic guidelines that caution against gathering in groups and singing in public spaces, many churches will be offering live or prerecorded online programs, while some congregations with large, outside seating areas plan to provide socially distanced, in-person programming. In an era of unpredictability, double check dates and times before you go, and give yourself a little extra time to log in online.
Here is a short list of services being held on Dec. 23 and 24 around Los Angeles. If we missed your favorite Christmas Eve service, please share details in the comments section.
All Saints’, the Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills
Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels
Christmas Vigil Masses will be held on the cathedral plaza at 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, at 2 p.m. in English and at 4 p.m. in English and Spanish, with a limited capacity of 130 people. At 6 p.m., a mass in English and Spanish will be livestreamed from inside the cathedral and can be attended online at facebook.com/olacathedral and olacathedral.org. (213) 680-5200.
Outdoor masses will be held on Christmas Eve at 3 p.m. in English, at 5 p.m. in Vietnamese and at 7 p.m. in Spanish at 13280 Chapman Ave., Garden Grove. Livestreamed mass available remotely at christcathedralcalifornia.org. (714) 971-2141.
Danish Lutheran Church and Cultural Center of Southern California
First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles
Christmas Eve service will be live from 6 to 8 p.m. online at famechurchLA.org. (323) 735-1251.
First United Methodist Church Seal Beach
Grace Brethren Church Long Beach
A virtual Christmas Eve service will be live from 5 to 6 p.m. at gracelb.org. (562) 595-6881.
Iglesia Presbiteriana Immanuel Presbyterian Church
Christmas Eve services in English and Spanish will be livestreamed at 7 p.m. on Facebook @immanuelpres. (213) 389-3191.
Christmas Eve services will be held on the Irvine campus lawn at 5001 Newport Coast Drive in Irvine at 10 a.m., noon, 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Reservations are required for the 2, 4 and 6 p.m. services. marinerschurch.org, (949) 769-8100.
Pasadena Presbyterian Church
A virtual, prerecorded children’s pageant of the Christmas story will be shown on Facebook and YouTube channels at 4 p.m. The Christmas Eve candlelight service will be livestreamed in English, Spanish and Korean at 5 p.m. To access remote viewing links, go to ppc.net and click on the Livestreaming tab. (626) 793-2191.
Peninsula Community Church
Christmas Eve services will be livestreamed at 3, 5 and 7 p.m. pccpv.org. (310) 377-4661.
Rev. Elaine H. Cho presides over the Christmas Eve service at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church in pre-COVID times.
Santa Clarita United Methodist Church
Traditional Christmas Eve services will be live online at 4 and 7 p.m. at scumc.org and on Facebook @Santa Clarita United Methodist Church. A Blue Christmas Eve service — for those experiencing difficult times, recent loss or grief — will be live online at 5:30 p.m. (661) 297-3783.
Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch
St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church
Christmas Eve mass will be held at 4 p.m. in the parking lot of the church at 520 E. Orange Grove, Burbank, and also shown via livestream at srbburbank.org. (818) 846-3443.
West Angeles Church of God in Christ
At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23, the Christmas candlelight service will stream live at westa.org, or facebook.com/westangelescogic, or the West Angeles Church of God in Christ YouTube channel. (323) 733-8300.
Westwood Hills Congregational Church
Source by www.latimes.com