By Rev. Patrick Rogers, MDiv.
It feels sometimes like what Dorothy experienced when she was caught up in the midst of that tornado in Kansas. Her life flying by and little seems where it was before. Her world instantly changes all around her. Some things were familiar, but others distant and afar. How she related to friends and family and her surroundings would never be the same.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed everyone’s lives, especially the church. It’s been a wake-up call in so many ways. For regular church attendees it’s helped us realize why it is that we get up early every Sunday and gather together as a community. We miss those greetings and hugs at the door. We miss that smile. We miss eye contact. We miss sharing our joys and sorrows with one another. We miss praying together. We miss sharing music. We miss the message from the Word. We miss communal worship. We miss fellowship and sitting down with one another. We miss saying goodbye and another hug, and the “I will see you next Sunday” farewells. We miss walking away and knowing that until next Sunday we will be a part of each other’s hearts. We miss our family.
Since March 15, 2020, our church has been providing only “recorded” online worship services. Our Leadership Team spoke about providing the services via “Live Stream,” “Zoom®,” “YouTube Live®,” and other ways, but a recorded service that is posted to YouTube® and also available on Facebook® was a good decision.
Since putting much more emphasis towards our church’s “online” presence, our family has grown 400%! When the pandemic began, many predicted doom and gloom, especially for churches where there is so much danger from lack of social distancing. How will church be in the future? Yet, I know that a time will come when we can gather together again and hug each other like we have never been hugged before. And we, like Dorothy, will also feel different.
This morning, I learned an “online” way to worship that felt tremendously good, a way to share worship together again. I set up a Facebook® Watch Party and did-we-ever have a party! Together at the same time, many of our family members and even some friends, we watched the same recorded worship video, but more importantly we worshipped together. I could feel their energy and their love so strongly again. I felt connected to them. As we listened to the biblical text, prayed, sang, and reflected on God’s message for us, we had church!
I do believe that church can happen anywhere and at any time. I can worship while watching a worship service video alone. That’s the Mother of Invention. But, sometimes you just need a hug from your Mom. Thank you Mom for the virtual hug this morning!
Rev. Patrick Rogers, MDiv. – Community Activist and Senior Pastor at
United Church of Christ Fort Lauderdale.