Earlier this year I participated in a meeting where people “arrived” in a variety of forms. Some of us walked into the room. Some of us appeared via a video conference feed. Others showed up on laptops via Skype. Still others “came” to the meeting via voice on a telephone.
Even if the sound levels were the same, and even when the video feeds were working well, it was a strange experience as we tried to conduct business using so many different media forms. When I left the meeting, I was thankful that I had arrived in person. But I was also thankful for those who were not able to be present who found a way to participate.
It made me wonder if we could find ways to incorporate more people in worship by using a wider variety of media. Our primary audience shows up in person. But some watch the sermon online. (You can usually find the last week’s sermon on our website by Wednesday morning.) Others read the sermon. Not only are those very limited extensions of our worship service, but there is much more to worship than the sermon.
At the same time, I recognize that some of us come more prepared for worship than others do. Some of us spend time praying on our way to church. Others are frantically trying to make it in time. Some of us carry heavy burdens as we approach the sanctuary, burdens from our daily life that others may not even know. Those factors all contribute to make our individual worship services very different from one another.
And if some of us come to hear a word of comfort and some come to hear a word of encouragement and some come to be surrounded by friends and associates and some come to share music and some come out of habit, it feels very much like the meeting where each of us had our own experience.
Meanwhile, God is meeting us where we are and calling us into a future only God can fully envision. My hope, my prayer, is that each of us will find our way to live into that future as we learn to become partners in the ministry that Jesus began.