We have learned that we can be “separate yet together,” which has become the parlance around groups that are usually defined by meeting in person in the same space, but are now relegated to social media, email, snail-mail and telephone. Clergy have gotten very creative about how they can offer services on-line, and in many parts of the world, that is all they can do. In Atlantic Canada, we have been fortunate, in that we have complied with our several departments of health, attended to matters such as physical distancing and mask-wearing, and being subject to building limitations.
This has also prompted a vigorous debate about on-line worship. I see on-line worship as a concession to the circumstances around us. I have no intention of pretending it’s the same as being in the same room together, and not being able to offer the sacraments (at least as understood by the church) on a regular basis. On those weeks where we have been completely shut down, I have posted a Facebook Live feed that includes ringing the bell, a music selection on the organ (usually a hymn of the season), the Sunday readings with a brief meditation, and prayers. It does not resemble a Sunday congregational service, nor is it that the intention. When we can’t meet together, then we all need to share the same experience, not watch a select few make us feel badly that we are not amongst the elite.
So on-line may keep us together while separate, but it is not the same.