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Worship with your Community

On Sunday there was an article in the New York Times that immediately grabbed my attention: Why Churches Should Drop Their Online Services.  Yowza! I  read that one right away. It's written by an Anglican priest who is a frequent opinion columnist. She lays out a case for why "it's time to drop the virtual option."  Why should we do this? Because "this is the way to love God and our neighbors."  I couldn't disagree more passionately.

 

To be fair, she lays out a lovely argument for the importance - both practically and theologically - of being together in the same room. We are more vulnerable when we are together physically.  We need embodied community.  Our worship is centered on eating and drinking and singing. We need to experience one another as the teary, broken, beautiful human beings that we are. I fully agree.  Being physically together really matters!

 

But then she loses me: "Why not have both? Why not meet in person...but also continue to offer the option of a live-streamed service? Because offering church online implicitly makes embodiment elective... It assumes that embodiment is more of a consumer preference, like whether you buy hardwood floors, than a necessity, like whether or not you have shelter."

 

Sure. It does make it "elective."  But what about people who don't have a choice, who cannot physically get to the building? She proposes that they be visited by lay ministers -- as if a visit from one person is a fair substitute for community worship.  Even with online church, we are able to see each other's faces, hear the sermon and music in real time, hear one's prayers lifted up, keep the routine of Sunday morning worship, and still be seen and welcomed as part of the community.

 

Is worshiping on Zoom the same as worshiping in the sanctuary?  Of course not! Many things are lost. But it's infinitely better than nothing!

 

We've had folks join us for worship from nursing home beds, from hospital rooms, from thousands of miles away, after surgery, after chemo, while quarantining, while sick with covid, while traveling for work, while on vacation, after giving up their car, while their car is being repaired, while caring for sick parents, while home with a sick kid, while anxious about covid, or maybe just when exhausted.

 

It is a MIRACLE that no matter what our location or our physical circumstances we can still gather together as the people of God.  No matter where you are, we will greet you warmly on Sunday morning, and you will be worshiping with your community.  How arrogant to take that option away.  How arrogant to say: "You can get yourself to the building - or forget it."

 

Does embodiment matter? Is being physically together preferable?  Of course.  But the world evolves, and church evolves, and worship changes and adapts.

 

Good People, you are each a beloved part of this community no matter where you are or how you join us.  We are committed to offering worship on Zoom, because we know it has been a lifeline for many of us.  I'll see you on Sunday!!

 

-Rev. Katrina