Yesterday I experienced my first ‘Zoom’ church service. It was a 15 year anniversary celebration of a Fresh Expression church my husband had been involved in for some years. Many of the friendships seeded in that church are still important to us now so, despite me hating zoom, being half asleep from a three hour drive and really struggling with the thought of anything to do with formal Anglicanism right now, I really, really wanted to be there. And I’m so, so pleased I was.
By the time we got to the Kyrie, sung over us while we all sang on mute to avoid the echos and time delays, I was in tears. My heart was full with the nourishment being poured into it, like a parched person pouring a jug of water down their throats as the water falls in streams down either side of their mouth, it is so bountiful in that moment after such drought. Yet there was also a sense of such heaviness. I could have had this all along. Partly my responsibility, for being a zoomophobe. Partly my loyalty to a church not offering this way of connecting. This was a one off but the Vicar leading it extended a warm invitation to me to his regular offering. One to pray over.
The scripture we discussed was Matthew 18: 15-20, discussing conflict in church. Two things really drew me in. One, the fact we are told to treat people we can’t resolve conflict with as gentiles and tax collectors – on face value as outcasts but considering Jesus calls us to love the marginalised then surely that means we must love them anyway? And two, the reminder that when two or three are gathered, God is there, felt very poignant.
For gathering means different things now.
When someone tweets a cry for prayer and I see six tweets back, I smile. That is two or three gathering.
When someone livestreams a church service and I see the comments scrolling up the side of the screen, I praise. That is two or three gathering.
When a group of people sit at an allocated time, and read a transcript, watch a service, sit in contemplation or turn their attention to God intentionally all at the same time, that is gathering too. I admit I find that harder to understand or connect with. But joyfully, the universe is not just designed for me!!
So I’m gonna try zoomin’ to God again, I’m sure. I’m going to pray into the glimmer of hope I may have a chance to access liturgical community again one day. But one thing is for sure, I’m never going to forget my first time and I will be forever thankful for the blessing it has been.
Peace be with you.