I am missing corporate worship. Closing our churches is a necessary tool in fighting the crisis we are in. I totally appreciate and affirm what our church, and so many other churches, are doing to create on-line worship. Kudo’s to the technicians and pastors and other leaders who are making this possible. Zoom really is quite amazing. And I have loved hearing my sons preach in their respective churches – all electronically (My wife calls me “digitally resistant”).
But I still really miss gathering together on Sunday morning for worship. I miss being together with the people I have come to love. I miss the power of wonderful congregational singing. There is something so inspiring, so transcendent, about voices and spirit and body merging in sound and communal offering to God. Planning and leading corporate worship was always a highlight of my pastoral life. And as a retired pastor, corporate worship has nurtured my soul in a different, but very significant way—a way different than when I was giving leadership to it.
So, I am pondering how to nurture my spirits when this kind of worship is limited to electronic communication - when I miss the familiarity and power of a communal Sunday morning.
Lydia and I have tried to nurture a daily time for scripture reading and prayer together throughout our marriage. That continues to uphold our spirits. But there is still a missing link in my emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Maybe there is a lesson in that. This pandemic crisis is creating many huge challenges for all of us. One of these for us is to pay more attention to the health of our spirits when not supported by the fuller power of being physically together for worship.
I suppose that Paul’s challenge to the Colossian believers to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God” could apply to shut-in households. But what about for those who are living alone?
In the face of “social distancing” we are all challenged to find new and powerful ways to stay “connected” with each other – and with God.
I am inspired by the many stories that are being told – stories of reaching out, stories of sacrifices made, stories of coping in new ways with isolation and fear and loneliness – and death. Just this morning my flagging spirit was set alight by the lead story in The Toronto Star Insight section. I could almost not believe it. There they were, big, bold pictures, side by side, of Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland and Ontario Premier Doug Ford. They are political enemies, aren’t they? Now they call each other “therapist” and “friend”. They have genuinely forged a deep respect, appreciation, and, yes, friendship with each other. Wow.
What has that got to do with worship. I don’t really know. All I know is that I was thrilled deep in my heart. Enemies becoming friends. And then I read that the premier of Alberta too has high regard for Freeland. I marvel at how well these former “enemies” ARE working together wonderfully well in the face of our crisis.
I will ponder these things while worshipping via Zoom tomorrow morning. I will put my life, our lives, into the much bigger picture of God’s healing love for the entire world.