This morning we settled into the church’s zoom worship service. I had a nice cup of tea as we listened to the first hymn and opening announcements. Church isn’t the same this way. There’s no greeting friends, no greeters at the door, and no random one-liners to give the pastor. While I like my living room, it doesn’t generate the same feeling of reverence that a sanctuary does.
Singing isn’t the same as I don’t generally sing along with the organ music playing through the TV speakers. There is still a Bible reading and a sermon. Given the restrictions churches are operating under, it’s about all a pastor and a few volunteers can do. They try to be creative with a children’s moment – our local church uses an “honorary child” for the pastor to talk to.
Try as they might to bring some normal into our lives, it’s just not the same. It’s even harder since we moved. If theses were normal times Heather and I would be driving around town visiting the local churches. There would be conversations with members and maybe coffee with the pastor. Soon we’d decide on a place to spend our Sunday mornings. Likely I’d join the local Bible study group and give the pastor the benefit of my one-liner wisdom in the reception line after service.
Instead we sit on the couch while my iPad connects to whatever service we’ve decided to join. In this ultra-connected world we can still join the service at our church in San Jose or pick a place on the map and join any congregation. Often we watch a church where we know members and the pastor and where they have a really good tech team and put on an engaging Sunday morning service.
It’s a strange balance – one foot physically in another state with one foot still firmly in the past.
Just before the morning reading I call to one of the cats, “Come here and be a church cat.”
By the end of the service, the tea is gone and all three of the cats are parked on laps or the back of the couch. They doze and I think of an old joke said to preachers, “Sometimes your job is to give people 20 minutes of good sleep.”
There’s no walk to coffee time for bad coffee and a few cookies.
There is just realizing how much we’ve lost.
There is just the hope that this new vaccine will be the beginning of rebuilding the connections we desperately miss.
There is just an empty tea cup and a kitty complaining that service is over.