Wednesday Word: On-Site Worship

Last week I touched on the dust-up created by a New York Times op-ed piece about why online worship was invalid and the call for churches to stop streaming their worship services because worship needed to happen as a physically gathered body that met in the same space. As a response of sorts, I said, “whether you worship in person or online, if you are fully present then I believe that you are worshiping with all those gathered, whether in the pews or in their homes.”

I did some more reading about the issues brought up by the original piece and the various responses, and, from what I've seen, there is a whole slew of arguments as to why churches must not cease their online presence and/or worship offerings. I won't get into the details of all that, but know that those who worship online are just as present, just as valuable, just as much a part of our corporate body as those who are gathered together in the church.

All this got me thinking about words. In high school and college football, there is a rule against roughing the passer. Words are important, as the passer may or may not be the quarterback, and most coaches/fans don't understand how there can be a penalty against someone who is not the quarterback. The answer: because the penalty is for roughing the passer.

After reading and thinking about all of this, I realized that all of us who worship – whether we worship at Saint John's or whether we worship at home – worship in-person. When we worship, we worship in-person in the presence of the ever-present God.

As I said last week, I think we all would prefer to worship together in the holy space that is Saint John's. That may not be possible for some of us, whether due to illness, physical constraints, or distance. But when we worship, we are all worshiping in-person and together in whatever form that happens to take. As our bulletins have said for a year or so, “Gathered Separately – Worshiping Together.”

With that in mind, and with knowing the importance of words, I will stop referring to our worship as “in-person or online.” Instead I will begin referring to our worship as “on-site or online.” This will let everyone know that worship is available on-site within the physical building of Saint John's as well as worship being available online through our Facebook live-stream.

Over time and through any number of events we learn to see things a little differently, even if it's something we thought we have known for awhile. Last week I was reminded that, no matter where you are when we gather to worship, we are all worshiping in-person.

I look forward to sharing my Sundays with you as we worship together in-person; whether you are worshiping with us on-site or worshiping with us online.



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