Covid has been a weird time for all of us – not least for the Church.
Many Anglican churches have not met in their buildings since mid March 2020.
In the light of the few churches, including one in Trail, which have attempted to meet in person recently I want to explain why we are content to worship online, at least for the moment.
Firstly I want to counter the argument that this is about freedom or rights.
Our freedoms and rights are always constrained.
But public health orders for the greater good, trump our personal rights and freedoms.
At a time when so many healthcare workers and teachers and other essential workers are putting their lives on the line we should help them by not meeting in person. Meeting in person would also be putting our members lives at risk, and we have seen outbreaks traced to church gatherings.
Not meeting in person is the loving thing to do, just as wearing masks in the loving thing to do. Christianity is about doing the loving thing.
We are commanded to love our neighbour.
Meeting online via zoom or on YouTube or Facebook is creating new opportunities for churches.
People who were unable to get to church even before Covid are now able to connect in. Those people might be housebound or they might be in a different town, or province or country. They might be people who used to come to a church and still miss the community they found there.
They might be people whose busy lives stopped them attending at the regular Sunday morning time, but who now find they can connect into the service at a time they choose.
Those who attend are also finding they can be part of a vibrant and caring community – right in their living room!
Online services have been liberating for many people and online attendances are often much higher than the in person attendances.
Online services are different to in-person services.
They create different styles of worship.
Not better, not worse, different.
Instead of sermons some churches are having discussions. The sermon may well be illustrated with images or sound clips.
The music may be compiled from around the world. We can be freed from the limitations of our conventions.
Each service can be an adventure.
Covid has brought an unparalleled outpouring of creativity to the church as we have tried to meet the challenges we face.
And most of the church leaders I speak to are clear that we will not be going back.
The online services are here to stay.
We will have to work out how to combine the online and the in-person when we eventually are able to do so.
Meanwhile we are content to do the right thing, the loving thing, the thing that God is calling us to.
Why don’t you check out what your church is doing?
You can find St. Andrews on Facebook @StAndrewsTrail.
Reverend Neil Elliot
St. Andrews Church Trail