**LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor dwelleth. My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the LORD.** Psalm 26:8,12
2020 has been a tough year for the church. Each congregation has had to navigate ever changing regulations and restrictions on communal worship. Every leadership staff has had to wrestle with finding a balance between being subject to the governmental powers and the mandates that God’s Word sets for his followers.
In America, a church can stand on constitutional rights to back up their understanding of God’s mandates. It has been interesting to travel and hear each churches’ account of how they as individuals and as a congregation have dealt with these complications.
In Spain, one does not have the constitutional right to worship freely the way that America does. One has the freedom to choose who or what they worship, but their religious beliefs cannot take precedent over governmental restrictions. One can petition the government if they believe that restrictions are a form of persecution but they rarely have the support of government leaders in their cause.
Spanish churches simply closed during the pandemic. Only the congregations with a large meeting space have been able to continue with attendance as capacity percentages varied from week to week. Small churches could not maintain the health parameters required to meet, like placing seating 6 feet apart. This would limit the attendance to about 5 people.
Because of all of these complications, our own small congregation has been meeting almost exclusively over Zoom online for over a year.
I would say that the toughest aspect of Online Church has been communal worship. How does a church sing and praise and worship our Creator over a limited application? We have tried every possibility that we can think of, but all seem to fall short of traditional congregational worship.
The thing is, there is just something amazing about a larger group of people all singing and praising God together! A group of people singing as one voice is powerful, filling the heart and soul, and invites the presence of God even more than when we worship alone at home. Both are important, valid and have their own benefits…
But communal worship is impacting! Have you ever noticed how a church gathers on a Sunday morning a bit sleepy and have polite exchanges but after the singing and the preaching, there is JOY in the house? Somehow, for some reason, God abundantly blesses communal worship.
** But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. ** Psalm 22:3
Is that the key? Do we experience the Holiness of God when we worship together and for a little while after we feel CLEAN? Completely washed from the garbage of the world for just a few hours? Maybe. I don’t really know. But would LOVE your ideas on the subject.
If you have the privilege to be able to gather together in your church building, or in your own home to worship together…thank God all the more for it. Many, many churches around the world that do not live with the same freedoms that America does would love to change places with you. Pray for them. And sing with all you’ve got for those that cannot until the pandemic ends.