Christmas arrived in Los Angeles County on Saturday, Dec. 25, and neither the rekindled COVD-19 outbreak nor the third day of a winter storm could dampen the spirits of Christians who gathered for services celebrating the birth of Jesus and to provide meals to the homeless and poor.
Many churches offered in-person services as well as online ceremonies, in response to rekindled concern over the coronavirus. Facemasks were a familiar sight among clerics and parishioners alike.
“I am praying for you, my brothers and sisters,” said Rev. José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest Catholic community, in his annual Christmas message. “Please pray for me. And let us ask our blessed Mother Mary to awaken in us any awareness of God’s tender love, that Jesus might be born anew in our hearts as he was born from her on Christmas.”
The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels had a variety of Masses, some solely in English or Spanish or bi-lingual, on Christmas Eve and Day. Two services on Friday included an early family-friendly Mass with a children’s choir and the 10 p.m. Mass that was preceded by Christmas carols with the Cathedral Choir.
Across the county at LAX, the swiftly spreading Omicron variant played havoc with people trying to travel on the holiday, spurring a wave of worldwide flight cancellations, with at least 82 Christmas Day flights canceled at Los Angeles International Airport.
The storm that snarled traffic, triggered mudslides and dropped snow on the mountains the previous two days eased up a bit on Christmas. A light rain fell over the Southland during the day, with more expected Saturday night before all shower activity was expected to end Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
Around the region, people of faith gathered to pray, sing and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Many churches launched online services during the peak of the pandemic and have retained the option as the outbreak ebbed and flowed since.
Rev. Xavier Dsouza celebrated Christmas Mass at Holy Trinity Church in San Pedro, in front of a congregation that was fully masked and socially distanced. His messaged echoed the annual message of giving, caring and forgiveness, but he also urged the flock to be cautious and take steps to stem the spread of the coronavirus.Among those was Holy Trinity Catholic Church in San Pedro, which hosted six Masses on Saturday, a day after offering three Christmas Eve Services.
Holy Trinity is among the older churches in San Pedro, having been founded in 1924. It had humble beginnings. The church, according to a history on its website, initially operated out of Barton Hill Theater, on Pacific Avenue. It was also briefly called St. Peter’s, but was quickly changed so it wouldn’t be confused with St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. In 1926, the church relocated to a vacant store on Santa Cruz Street.
Construction on a permanent Holy Trinity broke ground a year later, after the church bought land on O’Farrell Street for $8,000 — or about $127,000 today.From those meek origins, the church’s popularity grew. The congregation increased so much over the decades that in 1960, Holy Trinity relocated to 1292 West Santa Cruz St., where it remains.
Holy Trinity’s origins are particularly apt for a Christian church, particularly on a day when it celebrates Jesus Christ being born in a manger in Bethlehem and then, for his followers, a savior.
Shadow Hills Presbyterian Church in Sunland-Tujunga, meanwhile, offered an online feed for their 9 p.m. service, as did many house of faith around the region.
The Center for Spiritual Living-Granada Hills asked those who would participate online at 6 p.m. to be ready to light their own candle as the congregation met in person on Chatsworth Street.
The youth at Woodland Hills Community Church (United Church of Christ) performed a Christmas pageant “Do Not Be Afraid.”
A quiet “contemplative” candlelight Communion service was staged at Prince of Peace Episcopal Church in Woodland Hills.
On Christmas Eve, the 62nd annual Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration returned to the Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion — but without an audience, amid coronavirus caution.
More than 20 music ensembles, choirs and dance companies performing during the celebration billed by organizers as Los Angeles County’s largest multicultural holiday celebration will be held from 3-6 p.m. and televised live by KOCE-TV Channel 50 and streamed at pbssocal.org/holidaycelebration and kcet.org.
Organizers of the annual Christmas dinner at Hollywood United Methodist Church prepared a meal to serve more than 1,000 meals as well as personal care items and toys for children.
The Laugh Factory in Hollywood pulled together its 42nd annual free Christmas dinner and show. The comedy club welcomed those who are away from home, as well as those who may be lonely, homeless, or simply in need of a warm meal and a few laughs, owner Jamie Masada said.
Tiffany Haddish, Tim Allen, Dane Cook, Craig Robinson and Paul Rodriguez were among the comedians who planned to perform.
The club followed Los Angeles County Department of Public Health guidelines, Masada said, with proof of vaccination and wearing a mask required.
Participants who were unvaccinated got a Christmas meal to go and a certificate to get COVID-19 vaccinations at El Proyecto del Barrio Clinics in the Los Angeles area. The Laugh Factory offered to cover the cost of transportation to the clinic.
Anyone redeeming their COVID-19 vaccination certificate at an El Proyecto clinic were told to bring their completed certificate and vaccination card to Laugh Factory Hollywood on or before Valentine’s Day to receive a $50 cash reward for getting the shots.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers christened the newly re-named Crypto-DOT-com Arena with a Christmas Day game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly Mitchell told residents that best way for county residents to celebrate Christmas was “to make a commitment to yourself, your family and your community that we’re going to stay safe. We really hope people figure out ways to integrate into their traditional holiday celebrations ways in which to be mindful of each other and stay safe.
“Everybody has to remember the true reason for the season and it’s to share peace across the land and to love one another. In order to do that in the middle of this pandemic we have to be mindful of not spreading it,” Mitchell told City News Service.
Mitchell stressed the importance of “shortening our time together, making sure there’s an air purifier in the room, making a commitment that we’re going to stay masked, not gathering at one table but break it off into smaller tables based on family units” at Christmas gatherings to attempt to reduce the possibility of spreading the coronavirus.
When asked what Christmas means to her, Mitchell said “it’s about gathering, it’s about remembering the reason for the season, it’s about taking time to stop and tell people we care about them and having a sense of real community.”
Mitchell said the winter holidays, which also include Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, are a time “to pause and give thought to what we are thankful for in our own lives and to spend time and connect with those who we love.”
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