During this Covid season, there has been much talk about how terrible ‘internet church’ is. There is, of course, nothing that takes the place of actually going (or being allowed to go) to church. Like the Bible – it’s one thing to hear stories from it, it’s an entirely different thing when one reads the Bible for one’s self. It is a living, breathing thing, as is the church.
I have no problem with internet church. It does what church is supposed to do – it reaches people. We always say that Jesus will meet you wherever you are – and that includes the internet. Long, long, long before covid, we’ve had our ‘shut ins’. They depended on the ability of the priest to make his rounds of visitations and then the shut-ins were alone again until the next month. Not so today. We are able to attend church even if we can’t attend church; we fellowship even if there are no coffee or cookies; we encourage each other even if we can’t reach out and pat someone’s hand in support and compassion.
My dearest friend Alys is in the UK and on lockdown – as is the whole country. She attends church with me on our church’s YouTube channel every week. We both attend Bible study with Bishop Chad via Zoom. We are doing Stations of the Cross every Friday at noon during Lent using Face Book video chat.
The chat feature is open on the church’s YT channel and if you promise not to tell the Bishop, I’ll tell you we chat – only during announcements of course (wink). I’ve been so pleased to be able to do Stations, I put my email address on the chat and invited anyone who is interested to join Alys and me when we do Stations. Sure enough – I received an email from a woman in Louisiana that wants to do Stations with us. In chatting back and forth via email, she mentioned she’s in hospice with stage four lung cancer. Going out is not an option for her. Were it not for the internet, she’d not be able to do Stations – I sent her the prayers so she can read a Station if she wants to or just follow along as Alys and I take turns with the readings.
There is no Holy Communion for us. Again, nothing takes the place of receiving Communion in both kinds. But the Church, in her wisdom, has given us a form for Spiritual Communion. Is it second to the real thing? Of course it is, but it is far, far better than to have nothing; ‘Spiritual Communion’ can be as fortifying as taking it – almost. But it is fulfilling and curbs the yearning in the heart for the real thing. Our friend in Louisiana did not have the form and just sort of waited online until the tech guy (God bless Dave and his devotion to serving the online congregation) comes back from receiving Communion and turns the church’s cameras back on. Now that she has the form, she, Alys, and I have our spiritual communion as the rest of the congregation have their actual communion. We are apart – but we are not apart. The congregation and the online congregation are one – we all pray together; that we are not sitting next to each other is meaningless. We are together.
The internet, just like any kind of technology, can be a blessing or a curse. I have found great blessing – and fellowship and encouragement – using the internet and the different technologies. So … no; I have no problem with the internet or internet church or internet fellowship. Wherever two or more are gathered in His name, there He is also.