I was able to take advantage of the broadcasts of four churches yesterday. Our home church, Covenant Presbyterian Church, livestreams our services on Facebook Live. So, I worshipped online with our church family, morning and evening. Two of my children who live in the Northeast are home, so my family also took advantage of the opportunity to “visit” each others’ churches. One broadcast through Zoom, and the other distributed their liturgy through their website and had an audio sermon recorded. It was great to get a taste of my children’s home churches.
I also learned several things through this experience.
First, public worship gatherings are far superior to “online worship.” As far as I’m concerned, the Puritan David Clarkson nails this point. We don’t really gather in “online worship.” For the most part, we “tune in.” Not being able to receive the Lord’s Supper really drives the absence of the “vertical” and “horizontal” aspects of worship home. Some are predicting that the landscape of public worship will be dramatically altered through the exponential number of churches that are forced to go online because of COVID-19 restrictions. However, an essential part of being a part of the Church of Jesus Christ is that our Lord summons us for worship on each Lord’s Day to appear before him as a body. While media is the best that most of our churches can do because of the present emergency, we should not be content with this when things return to “normal.” This is a time for us to cherish public worship, and long to appear before the Lord together as a local expression of the body of Christ.
Second, even with the reservations above, there is much still much goodness to be enjoyed in our present circumstances. We worshipped as a family through at least parts of four services. I experienced great joy in seeing that my adult children are worshipping in sound, Gospel-preaching churches. All of our churches are making efforts to connect with one another, even when we can’t be physically present.
Third, we are in a battle for our lives. COVID-19 and its far-flung effects are engaging us in a battle. For most of us, it’s a battle for our lives. We may not be currently experiencing the devastation of New York City, or be sick ourselves. However, many nuclear families are not used to being home together all of the time. The feeling of “being on top of each other” is real, even in my situation where we are blessed to have more than sufficient space for our daughter and our son and his family to stay with us and for us all to work from home. Unemployment is becoming more widespread. When families lose loved ones, they don’t have the opportunity to mourn together because of social restrictions. So, we are all in this pressure cooker together. Marriages that were fraying are coming apart. Domestic abuse is on the rise, and will continue to escalate.
So, what can we do? I would suggest that families have regular conversations to check in and see what arrangements need to be altered for the peace and unity of the family. Also, family prayer and worship are more vital than ever. Remember, too, that your pastors and church officers are praying for you, and willing to meet with you, whether it’s on the porch or by phone or video chat. Out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind. Take full advantage of the resources that your church family offers.
We can get through this, but only through dependence on the Lord and on each other. So, encourage one another, even by text, email, or phone. Pray with and for one another. If you are in a position to, give with an open hand and an open heart. If you need help, be willing to receive. This is what the Body of Christ is for. The Church has shined in moments such as these throughout her history, and the Lord has given us this opportunity for us as a body to “let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your father who is in heaven.”