A year ago, the idea of virtual church was not something I would have considered. I loved the connection of being with other people; serving, praying, worshiping and learning. Then everything shut down and we adapted. The service was offered through live stream and wasn’t perfect, sometimes interrupted by technical difficulties, but quickly improved and became a new way to connect.
Virtual church was something I was thankful to have. During a time when chaos and isolation were prevalent, it gave a sense of peace and normalcy. I sat on my cozy couch with a cup of coffee dressed in my comfiest clothes and prayed, worshipped, learned and sometimes cried. I longed to get back to church in real life.
As the months dragged on, I became comfortable with my big comfy couch, cup of coffee and athleisure wear on Sunday mornings. There was no morning rush, my dress code was even more casual than my church’s, and I was never late to service. But I felt myself struggling and questioning and drifting. Without realizing it, I was becoming more an observer and less a participant. It was subtle but it was happening. I was watching but not with the same engagement, instead becoming distracted and discouraged.
As the world began to open up last summer and the opportunity to go back to church in person was available, my husband and I held off. There were still a lot of reasons to be cautious and since my husband is a health care worker, we felt it was best to stay remote. I wrestled with wanting to attend services in person and at the same time comfortable with our “new normal”. So, we waited and waited.
Our first time back in person was…weird. I don’t know how to explain it. It was familiar but different and I think I spent less time soaking it in and more time figuring it out. Honestly, it was not the experience I was expecting. We ended up going remote again for a while until just recently but something in me shifted. I started to feel the fog around me clear, the appeal of the anonymous virtual experience faded and I remembered the joy of worshipping together.
Going to church looks different now and it feels a little odd. But, even with the masks, elbow bumps and social distancing, we are still together. Serving, praying, worshiping and learning.
In real life.
“And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.
Matthew 18:20 (The Message)