Dear Beloved in Christ,
By now most of us have (reluctantly) learned how to “live stream” church services. Before the coronavirus, live streaming was something that you did with Netflix or Hulu, not with the sacred liturgical services of the Church. However, by God’s providence, we are learning new things and learning how to cope in a strange and different world.
On the one hand, live-streamed church services are a great blessing, because it is far better than having no connection to the local parish. Through this, the “church” of our home becomes interconnected with our local church. On the other hand, we can think of numerous reasons why this is greatly inferior to actually being in church and worshipping together. (No need to list these myriad reasons…)
But here we are. Church is online, and we are mostly stuck at home. So what’s a person to do? Or rather, how is a person to do this? Since we are all newbies when it comes to online worship, I thought a few tips would be helpful. Please consider these, and if you have more questions or concerns, contact me.
1) Preparing. When we worship in the church, we have many ways that we prepare, consciously or unconsciously: We plan our day so that we have time to go to church; we dress a certain way; we have the drive time on our way there; and we enter the narthex, light a candle, and venerate the icons. For online worship, much of this can’t be replicated. (For what can be, do so.) Yet we still need to prepare—longer than it takes to turn on your computer or type in a passcode. For each of you, that preparation may be different. So spend time thinking about some rituals that you can do in your own home to quiet your mind, calm your heart, and prepare yourself for participation in the divine services.
2) Participating. Once you have prepared, it’s time to participate in the services. And there’s good news: Now that you’re at home, you can sing (or read out loud) along with the services! No more worries about peer approval! Furthermore every service is available for you to follow along and sing along. Simply go to the Ages Initiatives website (or download the app) and you can follow any service. If you need help navigating this website to find what you need, contact me or any choir member.
3) Multitasking. In the work setting, multitasking may be a virtue. In worship it is a detriment. As you’ve already experienced, there are many more ways to multitask when we are worshipping at home. Try to avoid doing any other activities. Think, “Would I do this if I was in church?” (Disclaimer: If you are unable to watch a service online because you have something else that must be done, then it is better to watch while doing the other task than to miss the service. However this can become a habit…)
4) Eating & Drinking. Many of us appreciate a good cup of coffee or tea in the morning. Make sure to enjoy this after (or if you must, before) the worship services, not during. Meals also should not take place when we are worshipping. Our posture should be one of attentiveness: standing or sitting up.
5) Parenting. Now that I have given all of this guidance, much of it may need to be set aside when it comes to children, especially small children—and it really depends on the child! For some children, they want an elaborate ritual of lighting candles, setting the iPad at the family icon corner, censing the house and chanting, etc. For other children, it is a major accomplishment just to have the service on while they are going about their day. (Of course Sunday mornings are different.) We should always be striving to warm our children’s hearts toward God, and for each child, the mode is a little bit different. Some questions to consider are: What is the right amount of compulsion combined with freedom? How can we maintain peace within us? What does “participation” look like for online services with kids?
I hope that this is helpful. If you have more questions, let me know.
May God enlighten us in this new (temporary!) form of worship.
PS If you would like to share this or any of the previous daily reflections, please visit the new “Father’s Corner” page of our parish website to find all of the daily reflections.
A Note on “Zoom-Bombing”
For those who don’t know, a new and disturbing practice has arisen: Zoom-bombing. It’s like photo-bombing (jumping into someone’s photo), but more malicious.
I want to reassure you that our Zoom meetings are private. The details of any of our parish Zoom gatherings—Bible study, youth meetings, prayer times, etc.—will only be published in the daily parish email (or other emails), not on the website, Facebook, or anywhere public. Please do not post any of this information on social media.
Our parish email list is closed. Only those who request to be added by Barbara in the church office may receive the emails. (Also for this reason it is preferable that you don’t forward the email. If you would like to forward the daily reflection, instead go to the parish website and copy the link to the latest article, which is posted in “Father’s Corner” and does not include any of our parish Zoom meeting announcements.)