Sunday, August 1, 2021




Imaginary conversation:

 But what if I go to church on the internet. Is it real worship?

 “Nope! It’s just watching, not participating. To worship with the church, you have to be in church in person.”

 That’s a compelling point, actually. Traditionally, "congregational worship” generally has meant that you’re “there”, gathered with other believers in-person, in your mosque, church or synagogue.

 On the other hand, if you’re “present” via an internet channel you actually are praying the prayers, hearing the teaching/preaching, so you’re “there” with a body of people in a real sense. It’s very different than if you were out mowing the lawn during the hour of worship, right? It's probable that you've saved energy--human energy as well as petroleum-based (thus, polluting) energy for physical transportation to worship. You've saved travel time. There are lots of plusses for internet religious gatherings.  

 So, I’d like to make a case. My position is that worship in person in a single sacred hall, church, mosque or synagogue is the “root”, the core worship model. However, worship is led remotely by an authorized/ordained religious leader, is genuine worship. as the world seeks to grow greener, worship at home may prevail numerically over the traditional physically gathered model.

 “Yes, okay for listening to teaching or preaching or sacred music, but what about traditional participatory rituals,” one could ask.  Specifically for Christians, what about Confession, sacramental Holy Communion and Baptism? “Isn’t that different than the spoken word?”

Well, consider Christian communion. Christian communion is led by a trained, authorized and ordained clergyperson for believers gathered in a consecrated space: a church building. Yet, I see no problem if someone in Buenos Aires, “the communicant,” worshipping via internet, supplies bread and wine for herself. I think that she can believe that the words spoken in London (or Tokyo, or Moscow) will apply to her bit of bread and sip of wine. They will, in God’s grace, become the Body and Blood. Rev. John Wesley, founder of Methodism, said, "The world is my parish." Internet makes that possible in a new sense that Wesley couldn't have imagined.

 The principle of spiritual presence over physical space can and should be considered and extended.  As “connected” worship gathers momentum, large numbers of worshipers will be truly connected.

I will welcome any comments. 

 - Darrell Reeck

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