HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- This holiday season is a holy time for many people of faith who may be feeling worn out after a tumultuous 2020.
As Christians around the world celebrate Christmas, many religious services have been scaled back or canceled due to the pandemic.
At the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, carolers were located outside the building due to COVID-19 safety restrictions because singing has been deemed high-risk for spreading the virus.
Other churches have gone virtual this year or are enforcing social distancing if meeting in-person.
Local faith leaders are taking a moment to reflect on what faith means during difficult times and remind everyone to stay hopeful and encouraged as we get closer and closer to welcoming a new year.
Rev. Gregory Han at Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston said, "We really can shine for one another in the darkest of times, in the most difficult of times. I'm grateful for the people in this community that I've met that are supporting one another and have found a way to bring hope in this season."
"Christmas is not a religious holiday for me, but it's a beautiful opportunity for me to see people happy and connecting with their faith. I encourage everyone to go back and re-connect with your faith and what you believe in. Believing in God is beautiful, and motivates us to be better," said Dr. Waleed Basyouni, Imam of Clear Lake Islamic Center.
"We have to keep the long range view. First of all, we are not made for this world, and we must not allow our lives to be driven by outside circumstances," Monsignor Bill Young, St. Vincent de Paul Church said. "We have to find that meaning and purpose here inside our own selves with self mastery and a true understanding of who we are as God's sons and daughters. There's always a reason for hope."
"I wrote this poem called 'A poem for those still here.' There are no acceptable casualties. Not as far as God is concerned," Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss, Shma Koleinu said. "There is no body count that will ever be OK. In God's place, you are the most important."
To read Rabbi Scott's poem in it's entirely, click here.
Each leader expressed gratitude for the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine and said its a reason for many to stay hopeful regarding the pandemic -- all crediting the divine work of God for inspiring the knowledge in the hearts and minds of the scientists who developed it.