At one point in time, it would have been bizarre for the wind to blow away a guitarist’s sheet music during our church’s worship.
The other week, a guest pastor exclaimed “Squirrel!” in jest during the beginning of his sermon as one skittered by.
We’ve had vehicles with loud radios drive past, as well as a pick-up truck with a big American flag, and even cars with balloons participating in some kind of parade.
Ah, outside church. Our church services these last few weeks have certainly been unique. Who would’ve known that we would have to ditch our lovely church building for the church’s front yard? But despite its quirks, being able to hold church outside certainly is a blessing.
Though it is different, listening to God’s Word proclaimed while sitting in His creation is a special experience. Sure, there are earwigs, but there is also the breeze, sunshine, soft grass, and fresh air.
There’s something about listening to a sermon outside that really helps the words to hit home in a way that a screen couldn’t.
But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind.
– Job 12:7-10 (ESV)
Like this passage in Job illustrates, all of nature proclaims the Lord. This makes outside church beautiful. But even more importantly, having the opportunity to be with God’s people is a great privilege.
Yes, I said “privilege.”
As Americans, we may be very quick to call it a right, but it’s a privilege. Many countries punish Christians who gather corporately. But being able to gather freely is truly a blessing. Quarantine has pressed that truth home.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25
Even if your church is only gathering virtually, that is a blessing too. In the past, we wouldn’t have been able to live-stream a sermon at all. If it weren’t the 21st century, we wouldn’t be able to simultaneously talk to someone over audio and video for free.
There are a lot of inconveniences that come with these changes. There isn’t any childcare or Sunday School, so kids can get restless. There’s not always enough shade (especially when kids like to lie down and put their feet in your Bible ;P). There are social distancing rules and slipping masks and sanitary precautions.
But let’s remember how much God has blessed us with even despite these challenges. Let’s remember to be grateful for what we do have.
Being with God’s people—virtually or in-person, indoors or out—is always a gift.
What do you think?
How are your church services being held in this uncertain season? Any misadventures you’d like to share? What are you thankful for today?