Reservoir Church Highlighted Among Local Advent Celebrations
November 30, 2020
Reservoir Church and the Advent work of our Families Pastor Kim Messenger was recently highlighted among several local church congregations keeping socially distant Christmas events during the Covid outbreak. From Joel Lau in November 24th’s Boston Globe MetroWest edition* exploring neighborhoods outside of downtown:
“Sunday marks the beginning of the most unusual Advent in recent memory. With large gatherings discouraged and capacity limited due to COVID-19, churches in and around Newton are finding new ways to serve their communities this holiday season.
The biggest changes start with Christmas Eve, traditionally one of the most attended services for churches annually. This year, the program will look drastically different.
While Massachusetts reopening guidelines allow houses of worship to operate at 50 percent occupancy, many are opting to host Christmas services fully online. The ones that do hold in-person worship are getting creative in order to follow social distancing requirements…
Reservoir Church in Cambridge, whose congregants come from Newton and across the Boston area, has not been hosting in-person services and will stay online throughout Advent season, a decision which senior pastor Steve Watson said was largely driven by the demographic they serve.
“Elders, African American, Latino, working-class communities have been hit hardest, and that’s significant numbers of our church,” Watson said in an interview.
Seeing how his congregation has embraced virtual community has been “downright inspiring,” Watson said, especially as his church works to preserve the wonder of the season for kids in the congregation.
“We are aware that, for kids, Christmas can be a magical time, but we don’t gather kids very much anymore,” Watson said. So the church has been sending small Nativity sets for families to put together at home.
Kim Messenger is the Reservoir staff pastor who has delivered over 55 Advent bags to families in Greater Boston. She described her experience, as she makes one northern loop, a southern loop, and an inner loop of the region near Somerville and Cambridge to knock on doors:”It’s been fun to see where poeple live. I still mail some, because some people live pretty far. But those driveway and on-the-stoop conversations with people face to face, socially distanced [are great]. [One prescholer] “A” blew me kisses because she couldn’t hug me.”
Kim’s motivation in all the work before Christmas? She hopes kids and their caregivers and parents can interact with the stories of Christmas at home. The bags contain everything needed for lighting their own Advent candle, making their own candles, and retelling the stories they hear Sundays. Included is the story Kim calls Week 2 of Advent, about Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
The story includes questions such as:
“I wonder if anyone in our family has ever made a long journey. What did they take with them? How did they get there?”
One goal Kim has is to encourage families and kids to see their own experiences within the Bible. As Kim describes it, “All of us are part of this big story, the Jesus’ story.”