By Pastor Cheryl Mathison
None of us anticipated that on March 15, when we were forced to suspend in-person worship due to Covid-19 that months later, we would still be worshiping online. While nothing can replace the community we enjoy in church, we have continued to work hard to make our live stream services as meaningful as possible. For example, among other things, we have:
- included recordings of members reading scripture
- made use of the ability to show images during the sermon
- introduced announcement slides before the service begins
- been able to secure high quality cameras and improve the lighting due to generous donations
We hope that each of these things has improved the quality of your worship experience. While we are just as eager as you are to gather in-person again, until it is safe to do so we remain committed to maintaining the integrity of live stream worship. (Which you can access here).
What follows are a few tips as you worship from home. There is no need to implement all of these tips but trying one or two each week may help you discover what works best to create a sacred worship experience.
Take a few moments to make the most of your worship space–wherever that may be. A few minutes of preparation can greatly enhance your worship experience by limiting other distractions and making your space feel like holy ground.
- Print the bulletin or have it pulled up on your screen.
- Consider dressing for worship as you would if you were coming to church.
- Light a candle to signify the sacredness of the time spent in worship.
- Remove distractions (for example silence your cell phone).
While it may feel strange to stand and sit, speak and sing at home, either alone or with your family, please remember that you are always a participant and not a spectator in worship. This is true whether you are at home or in the church sanctuary. In other words, while you may be looking at a screen, this is not the same as watching TV. One way to keep yourself engaged is to actively give your full attention to worship by standing, sitting, speaking and singing at all the traditional places.
- Have your Bible handy so you can look up and follow along with the readings.
- Keep a notebook and pen ready to take notes during the sermon.
- Begin your own prayer journal. As the prayers of the people are offered, include the names of those known to you.
WORSHIP WITH CHILDREN
Recognizing that there is no childcare center at home for the littlest ones and that the older ones will not be excused to Sunday School, consider embracing this time as an opportunity to “worship train” your children. You can do so by providing a running commentary throughout the service explaining what is happening and why. Also, please know: it is OK to hit the pause button to answer a question, redirect behavior, or take a break!
- If you have children at home, set similar expectations for their participation in worship as you would at church.
- Consider inviting them to take on roles like acolyte, usher or reader.
- Print out the children’s bulletin and/or the coloring sheet for each one of your kids. Have crayons available and encourage the kids to listen to the sermon as they write, doodle, scribble and draw.
- Prepare your own rainbow bag with small, quiet toys for the little ones.
- Hit pause during the Prayers of the People and ask your kids to name someone who may need prayers.
For many the donuts holes are a highlight of Sunday morning! Pick up some donuts and make a cup of coffee, then gather your family around the table and enjoy a snack and have a conversation about worship. If you live alone, consider calling a member with whom to share fellowship. You could talk on the phone, set up a Zoom meeting, or host a watch party on Facebook! Be creative. It’s a great opportunity to reconnect with others in our faith community.
Finally, let’s remember that for people who are home bound, live stream has been their primary way to worship long before Covid-19. We join them now in this digital world and give thanks for the technology that allows us to do so.