Posted by: jaimemwsanders | May 28, 2020

Reluctant Televangelist: Christ Church Online

Liturgy – the structure and poetry of communal worship – is at the heart of my church tradition. Due to the strange way the Reformation unfolded in the United Kingdom, Anglicans have been less united by what we believe than by what we do. In the Episcopal Church we have an elaborate system of self-governance, with a House of Deputies and a House of Bishops. The thing that they do that has the most impact on the church is to approve the Book of Common Prayer.

Ask an Episcopalian what they think happens when they die, and you will get answers ranging from “I don’t know” to “we go to heaven” to “we are reincarnated.” (The last, by the way, is not official church doctrine.) And, by and large, they are fine with knowing that the person sitting next to them in the pew has a different idea than they do. But if you want to start an argument, change the response to “The Lord be with you” from “And with thy spirit,” to “And also with you.” I have personally talked to people who left the church over that change!

All this is to explain that, for us, the shift from Holy Eucharist Rite II every Sunday to online worship is a BIG change! While some congregations have been in the habit of videotaping the sermon, and posting it online afterwards, it has been a one-person initiative – usually the priest’s spouse with a smartphone. My little congregation tried it once, but we couldn’t figure out how to get it uploaded.

But, as Bishop Steven Charleston posted recently, the gift given by the Spirit to the tribe of humans is “to see the future and adapt to it.” So we are gradually learning how to use the gifts of technology to continue to worship together.

The first thing we did was to make sure everyone had the old technology that fueled the Reformation – a printed book, the Book of Common Prayer, and instructions on how to find the Scripture readings for Morning and Evening Prayer. The second thing was I started reading them aloud, at home, and recording it on my phone and posting to YouTube.

We are now hosting a weekly Zoom Evening Prayer on Wednesday evenings, which are not recorded, so people can share prayer requests and what is going on in their lives. (Email me at christchurchsthelens@gmail.com if you aren’t getting the invitations and want to.) And for Sunday I am creating PowerPoint Morning Prayer services, with pictures and music, which are prayed by me and a lector via Zoom and recorded and posted on YouTube. You can subscribe to the channel here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1W7tBwe2XNRmUcMYRw5wsA?view_as=subscriber

And, I have to admit, it is fun. It adds another dimension to liturgy, to be able to add pictures. And I am grateful that people are joining me in prayer, even remotely in time and space. The church is not the building, and worship is not a book, but souls reaching for connection to our ineffable God.


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