Hanover (dpa / lni) - Christmas service in the football stadium or as a short prayer at home, read from the slip?
Christmas will be different this year for the churches, their co-workers and churchgoers.
Otherwise, families with children crowd into church services on Christmas Eve.
Christmas is the one Christian festival of the year that also attracts people who are distant from the Church.
But in the corona year 2020, the homely closeness in the churches will not be possible.
Church leaderships and congregations have been preparing for alternatives for months.
“More digital, shorter and colder” Christmas will be this time, expects the Protestant regional bishop of Hanover, Ralf Meister.
The churches already had experiences with online broadcasts at Easter, when the congregations could not meet.
At Christmas, a lot will shift outside in the cold.
“Christmas is not canceled,“ every year ”can be taken literally”, promises Sabine Hatscher, spokeswoman for the Bremen Evangelical Church.
The festival would be beautiful in another way.
When planning, however, there is uncertainty a month in advance.
Many of the ideas come from before the partial lockdown in November.
And the rules for the Christmas season have not yet been set exactly.
But the churches rely on one thing: "We have a promise from the country that we can celebrate church services with hygiene concepts," says Pastor Benjamin Simon-Hinkelmann, spokesman for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover.
A second promise is that for church events in the open air, seats do not have to be organized, but standing room is sufficient.
Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) said on Wednesday that the federal and state governments wanted to talk to the churches about safe worship services.
Under the distance requirement there are fewer seats in the churches.
In the Marktkirche in Hanover, 200 out of 1,000 places remain.
The way out: more but shorter services.
A congregation in Hanover wants to offer services around the clock starting on Christmas Eve at noon - every hour for 20 minutes.
"Many parishes are planning several church services," says Thomas Arzner from the Catholic Diocese of Osnabrück.
But access to these brief devotions must be well managed.
“We strongly recommend introducing a registration procedure for Christmas,” writes the diocese's liturgical commission.
Many churches will move their celebrations to larger buildings or outside.
The Catholic parish of St. Joseph in Hanover wants to bring up to 2000 people together in the football stadium in Hanover 96.
It is currently completely unclear whether the service will take place in the open air.
"We'll wait and see and then use common sense to decide whether the service can take place in the stadium," says Pastor Heinrich Plochg from the St. Joseph Community.
Other church services should take place as path worship or crib station runs, says Arzner.
In Bremen there are ideas to spread the Christmas message with loudspeaker trucks, from a tractor with a trailer or as a barrel organ tour.
Bremerhaven is ecumenically planning “a kind of Christmas flash mob”, said the Protestant superintendent Susanne Wendorf-von Blumröder of the “Nordsee-Zeitung”: “On Christmas Eve at 10.45 p.m. we will ring the bells and invite the people of Bremerhaven to come to certain places in the city to meet with candles and distance and to sing "Silent Night" together. "
The churches also see it as an opportunity to be present in streets and squares.
Simon-Hinkelmann recalls the biblical story of the birth of Jesus in the stable: "Christmas was originally a festival that took place outside and under adverse circumstances."
It is important to receive Christmas as a "festival of community".
At the same time, the churches are considering how they can let people participate in Advent and Christmas at home.
In Bremen there should therefore be “Christmas to take away”: texts and Christmas bags should hang on washing lines in front of the churches.
Hatscher says that 50,000 bags of lights have also been produced as gifts.
Collection of ideas for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover, as of 30.09.
Collection of ideas different from Christmas, as of 30.09.
Concept of the Diocese of Osnabrück, as of September 2020