OAKLAND (KPIX) — 2020 has changed how we celebrate the holidays but, Thursday night, people were still coming together to worship and celebrate on Christmas Eve.
At Divine Mercy Oakland, a large parking lot was pressed into duty for a drive-in service. Most of the people were in their cars but some sat outside, socially distanced, on the lawn in front of the altar. For these Christians it was a night to come together.
Father Matthew Murray, with Divine Mercy, delivered his homily to parishioners who sat in their cars.
“This time of pandemic and this time of fear and isolation and inability to see loved ones … it’s been a reminder to a lot of people how much, at the end of the day, we really do need someone to come and save us to show us ultimate the love of God and that’s why it’s so important for us to get together,” Father Murray said.
In San Francisco, Grace Cathedral streamed its Christmas Eve service online.
In the South Bay, San Jose’s Calvary Chapel continued to defy Santa Clara County orders and held a Christmas Eve service. The church has been holding indoor services since August. Calvary Chapel’s attorney said they will continue to appeal nearly $1 million in fines.
“They have no evidence that this church is posing a harm to the community because we have declarations that say no one in the church community has contracted COVID-19, so the church is not contributing to the cases,” attorney Mariah Gondeiro said.
While maskless worshipers were seen entering Calvary Chapel, Divine Mercy followed strict covid protocols.
“The cars are distanced apart, people and the chairs are distanced,” parishioner Steve Fitzpatrick said.
For many, it was important to know that they’re not alone this holiday season.
“I’m totally safe. I feel very, very safe,” Emily Morrison said. “Having this available to us since we can’t meet the regular way in mass. Having this venue is so wonderful.”
People did get out of their cars for communion but remained socially distanced. The church will hold outdoor services Friday and many are praying the rain stays away until those services are over.