Let's have an honest conversation about virtual church, shall we? Because I'm sure I'm not alone in the feeling of let-down and frustration each week.
We started so well today with such good intentions.
8:45am- I pull warmed homemade cinnamon rolls out of the oven that I had stuck in the freezer two weeks ago. I spread them with icing (on-plan for THM and everything!) and pour a cup of coffee, enjoying watching the big kids delight in a special breakfast.
Our 2 year old is still sleeping- perfect.
We go into the family room and settle in to participate in the service together.
9:03am- We are late. Even when church is in our own family room. What in the world is wrong with us?
9:05am- Internet connectivity issues. Our pastors' faces are frozen in strange expressions. I back the feed up and we try again. We will just be a little behind everyone else.
9:10am- We have more internet issues. Still frozen.
9:12am- We switch to watching on my phone, the five of us squeezed around. My husband suggests we put it on our Bluetooth speaker so we can hear it better. Where is that speaker? Still in the basement. I go get it, connect the phone.
9:15am- Frozen. Again. Are you kidding me?
9:20am- Ok. We are streaming, on the speaker... and now my Screen time reminder on my phone shuts us off because we've passed my facebook limit for the day. 🤦♀️ I enter the passcode, get us going again. We will just back up and rewatch the parts we missed.
9:25am- The sermon has started, I mention to our 9 year old that we would like him to be taking notes and not just doodling. He breaks down in tears because he doesn't know how. (This is not our first time discussing this). We pause the sermon, coach him through.
9:26am- The 2 year old wakes up. We pause the sermon again while I go get her up and dressed and settled with breakfast.
I'll spare you the next hour of timeline. It's predictable.
The toddler wants more breakfast.
She needs her hands wiped.
She wants more.
She wants down.
She throws a fit because she wants me to unzip a toy container (which I had already done in anticipation of this problem).
She throws a fit because she wants her dad's slippers.
The internet freezes again.
By the time we finish watching the service I feel like I've been running a marathon. What a restful, worshipful time.
I know I'm not alone in this battle. And in the midst of it all is the deep sadness of not being with our church family... this is not as it should be.
So here is my challenge to us today: this is worth it.
It's worth showing our kids that sitting under the teaching of the Word of God is valuable and worth fighting for.
It's worth pausing the sermon to teach the 9 year old to take notes - what if this is the time it clicks for him, when we can take the time to talk it through full volume and remind him why it's important?
It's worth offering our worship to the Lord as a SACRIFICE of PRAISE. He knows it's not easy. He sees us. He knows our hearts and our grief and our frustration and even our WiFi issues.
It's worth taking this time to pause and allow our hearts to be formed and corrected and trained by the teaching of God's Word. It would be easy, so easy, to allow our gaze to wander from Him during this time of isolation and distraction. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it- prone to leave the God I love.
It's worth fighting for connection with our church family. We need one another. God places us in a family and forms us in community. One way or another we are coming out on the other side of this different - as individuals and as a community. Will we hold tight or get content trying to go it solo as spiritual loners?
So if you, like me, are sitting dazed among a scattered collection of toys and Bibles and cold cups of coffee- hold tight. Hold tight to the Lord. Hold tight to the commitment of being formed as a disciple, a learner, in a community of believers.
One day we will gather again. It will be sweet. Tears will fall. We will blend our voices in worship. And I will give an extra hearty "thank you" to those faithful nursery workers who allow me to worship with a more focused mind.
In the meantime - Jesus, we offer you this sacrifice of time and effort. Please help us hear You. Be honored in our worship. Form us, form our children deeply and draw them to Yourself as they watch us navigate this time.
We bring you a sacrifice of praise.