What we have been deeply hoping not to occur, has unfortunately happened. The COVID-19 virus is spreading across the country and the authorities keep announcing new and stricter restrictions as to what we are allowed to do and how many people may participate in Mass and other worship in church. This applies to our celebration of the Birth of Christ in a really painful way because so few of the faithful will be able to participate in Mass in church during the Feast of Christmas.
We can allow only 50 persons at each Mass in St. Paul Church, where we have “permanently mounted benches” (fastmonterte) and are able to keep 1 metre distance. At Marias Minde where we also have fixed benches, we may allow only 20 persons.
Seats in the church are numbered. One should occupy the seat which you are assigned by the church warden on entering the church and checking on the registration list.
It is necessary that we have enough church wardens who can make sure that the rules are observed. If we do not have enough church wardens, then only 20 persons may enter the church.
Therefore, I appeal to you to sign up to be a church warden. These come as additional persons to the 50/20 registered participants.
It is painful for me to have to limit the number of persons who may come to church when we are now going to celebrate the Birth of Christ, but we must comply with the regulations given by the authorities and hope that we in this way contribute to reduce the spread of the virus in our city. Thus, the suffering of many who cannot participate in Mass in person, is transformed to something good for others and for our society.
Irrespective of all this, we can pray and read the Bible texts, and we can follow Mass online, either from our church or from St. Olav’s Cathedral in Oslo, or any other place in the world. We can also gather our families for the reading of the Gospel and prayer at home – this is also worship. Prayer is never in vain, irrespective of where you pray and in what framework.
Since we have only a few places in our church, I appeal to you to participate in only one or two Masses, so that also other chance a chance of coming to church at Christmas.
Let Him who was born in Bethlehem on Christmas night be born in your hearts during this coming Christmas; thus, also this so special feast, will become a Blessing.
God bless you all
Your Parish priest