Michael’s Musings: Digital Liturgy this Lent
We can’t really cancel worship.
A worship service, sure. But not worship.
Worship is a matter of the mind, a habit of the heart, a way of being in the world. Worship is an orientation to God that can’t be cancelled–the cross and empty tomb testify to that unshakable reality–no matter how real and forceful sin, death, and disease are.
I hope you intentionally worship this Sunday, even if you are unable to gather with others in a collective setting. Worship is more than sitting in a seat in a church. It is a way you show up to be present with God, to receive the love of Christ, to be energized by the Spirit for loving action–and connect with others. We can still do that. And this moment calls for us to do so in new and creative ways that might also reshape us and teach us something important.
Maybe the challenge and threat of the corona virus is also an opportunity to embrace and inspire Christ’s deeper way of love. It is definitely a kind of isolating, wilderness experience–one Christ knows well and one God can still use in beautiful and surprising ways (Matthew 4:1-11). That’s what Lent is all about.
Indeed, our community is aching for God’s presence in this uncertain time. Our community is yearning to receive the patient, peaceful, slower-paced, transformative love of Christ. Our lives are full of gifts we can share with our families, community, and world. Even now. Especially now. All while honoring the “social distancing” that springs from Christian love to help “flatten the curve.”
So this Sunday you’ll receive an email with a “digital liturgy.” It will include prayer, scripture reading, creative communion, and more. There will be written, audio, and (in the future) video elements. You will be invited to light a candle where you are, break and take elements you have on hand (bread, juice or whatever your creative item might work best wherever you are).
Worship in your home. Or outside if it’s nice. Worship with your family. Don’t “cancel” worship just because you can’t gather with others in a church building. Be creative in spreading the love of Christ and connecting with others in this isolating time.
Here are some ways you can do that:
- Pause and identify someone to reach out to. Maybe this Sunday at 10:30 AM, when we would normally gather for worship. If you live with family, consider doing this as a family.
- Pray for that person.
- Choose a day and time to pick up the phone and call. Check in and let them know you are praying for them.
- Write a letter of gratitude, encouragement, or prayer. Make something fun or creative with your family for someone (a picture, a craft, a card). Mail it. Especially to family, friends or a church family member who is in a care facility and may be extra-isolated.
If you intend to mail or call someone in the church, and don’t have a church directory or need an address, contact the church office by email.
Social distancing in Christ’s church doesn’t need to become spiritual isolation. Let’s work together to figure out creative ways to minister to one another and to our community in this time.
God can use any situation or circumstance to bless, heal, and inspire love. Even, especially, this one.
Grace and Peace,
PS – The church building is closed to groups. On Monday the Little Elks Preschool will follow many local school districts in cancelling classes. The church building will also be closed for church and community groups until reopening on Monday, April 6. During that time you can still contact the church office by phone, email, or mail.
PPS – Church staff and leaders are discerning creative, innovative, and new ways to connect. Holly and team are working on a digital Worship and Wonder story that will likely be released early next week. People of all ages will be able to access and learn more about the beautiful and unique ways of storytelling in Worship and Wonder, perhaps experiencing it for the first time. And if you have kids, this would be a wonderful thing to engage in with them. Other ideas are in the works, especially as we anticipate that this Sunday is a harbinger of things to come for the next few weeks.