WACO, Texas — People are so excited to have a semi-normal Christmas this year. A big part of the holiday for many, is attending a Christmas Eve church service.

“So we’re all indoor and so we’re really excited this year to be back to a sense of normalcy for Christmas Eve,” Pastor Ryan Barnett said, the Lead Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Waco.

Many churches went virtual during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many kept the virtual option during the 2020 holiday season.

But this year, many are back to full capacity and are looking forward to seeing their congregations again.

“We really expect to see people coming, worshiping, being together with their family, enjoying some of the grand traditions of Christmas Eve, candle lighting, and singing the great hymns of the faith,” Barnett said. “And so we’re really excited.”

First United Methodist Church member Gabriel Dominguez says this time of year is when people need others the most, and he is happy to be able to lend that helping hand.

“We just like to make sure that we come together because we’re human, because we need to hope that the Jesus offers, but we also understand that there’s others that need that hold too,” he said. “So we love to be able to invite people to come together. It’s so encouraging to be able to do that.”

Many churches are still offering virtual services on Christmas Eve for those who still aren’t quite ready to be back in person.

Here’s what Pastor Barnett said when asked about this weekend and the future.

“We definitely are not normal,” he said. “I mean, I think everyone knows that, but we are learning how to live into a new normalcy. And at least at First Methodist, we continue to invite people to share grace and be together and whether that’s in person or online.”

For a list of christmas eve services and times, click here.