No one could’ve imagined that we would “go to church” through technology. At our church in Tennessee, we used Facebook live, but I never used it myself to “attend” other churches. For me, live and face-to-face was the only way to really feel that you were in the presence of God.
Then, this virus hit, and changed everything in our world, including how we worship. It’s somewhat ironic, because I recently wrote a post for Tale Weavers on Pulling Down the Walls of Our Temples, opening worhsip to everyone, not just preaching to the choir, or those who already think of themselves as Christians.
In that small church in Tennessee, if there were 25 in attendance, we felt blessed. But, on Facebook live, there would be four times as many people, and they were from all over the world. We had attained through social media what we weren’t able to do physically: attract a diverse cngregation.
Over the last few years, I have missed the program titled “The Seven Last Words of Jesus” at the church we attended in San Jose, California, an event I always participated in. I loved being included to preach a mini-sermon on one of the phrases, my favorite being, “I Thirst.” Unable to afford to fly there for just a weekend, we simply missed it each year.
But this year, no hectic preparations were needed such as flights and reservations, just a response to an invitation to a Zoom meeting! Because our clocks are three hours ahead, I was able to do my work and then join in the meeting. Like a Swiss timepiece, the service began right on time, and every speaker was prepared and spoke with authority and hope.
What a blessing to see old friends and congregants whom I had not seen for over four or five years! To see my mentor, Reverend Fannie, who allowed this newly minted preacher to becomes an associate minister and a servant to our congregation when so many other churches didn’t let women be in positions of power.
I sat through all two and a half hours of the program, transfixed by the messages and the voices of two of my most beloved soloists, their sweet singing I had so missed. There were over 170 people in the meeting, which were a lot for someone who only has about 14 or less students join my lecture meetings.
I didn’t even know that many pople could participate together! What an absolutely beautiful, soul-inspiring, heart-affirming moment, all through the aegis of technology.
Sometimes, we grumble over changes in our lives that transform into new normals. It is no secret that we like to stay within our comfort zones and have the world stay the same. But, I have found that for every ending to one normality, there is a silver lining: the opportunity for a new normal that opens up the world just a little more and allows us to see what is possible!
This morning, I went to church on Facebook, and I let my pastor know that I enjoyed the sermon by simply commenting. So often in person, I would be in a hurry to get downstairs to teach Sunday school and forget to tell him that I liked the message. Now, I can do so right from my keyboard! Even more, I can now attend my California church in the afternoon, not having to miss Reverend Fannie and that wonderful choir.
Yes, some technology can be used by bad people for bad behavior. But technology can also be used to bring the world closer, and isn’t that what we need, especially in the church, as the harvest is still plentiful, and the laborers are still few?