Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing. (Psalm 100:1-2)
Virtual worship is all the rage right now due to the coronovirus pandemic. Rather than meeting in person, most churches are streaming services online. Where before pastors would talk about how many people were in church on a given Sunday, now it is how many views our worship got on Facebook Live.
This genie is out of the bottle for good, too, I believe. Before coronovirus, I had thought about live streaming some form of worship for shut-ins and to reach those who just don't seem to make it to church. I thought there might be an audience there and a way to reach a few more people, but I wasn't sure how to get started and just never got around to actually doing it.
Then March hit, and I had no choice. Through a few fits and starts we got it going. I am still not satisfied with the quality of the sound and video but I also know we are not going to invest in big production equipment. For most people it is good enough. And from what I hear, people like it. Many like sitting at home in their comfy chair, still in their pajamas, drinking coffee and joining in online. Others, perhaps busy on Sunday morning or just not up and moving at 9am, watch it at their leisure later in the day or even later in the week. And then there are my relatives and old friends from around the country who watch and remind me each week just how much I look, sound, and act like my father. Worship streaming is here to stay.
I'm fine with that. I am happy if anyone anywhere gets some comfort, joy, inspiration, sustenance, from our worship. In my mind, this is just another example of how God is at work in the world, turning curse into blessing, always taking what the world has to offer and working for good.
Through it all, however, I hope one important truth is not forgotten. Worship is not a product we simply consume. Whether in person or online, there is a danger worship becomes just something we watch, like a movie or a play. But we, the congregation, are not to be passive observers as the worship leader entertains but active participants interacting with God and connecting with the sacred in our midst. One does not "view" worship. One worships!
I have no problem with you sitting in your comfy chair, in your pj's, sipping your morning coffee as we worship together. But as you do, please remember to "make a joyful noise" and "worship in gladness" and be fully present with God, giving God your very best, and expecting God's Spirit to move within you.
Worship This Week
Thursday, August 13, 6:30pm, on the north sidewalk
Sunday, August 16, 9am in the Peace Garden and on Facebook Live
This Week: Stories That Shape Us
If you choose to join us in person, please wear a mask and practice social distancing
Keep In Prayer:
Lorrie Watkins, Addie Weaver
Our shut-ins: Kate Shelley, Dot Ann Smith, Nora Smith, Helen Payne