Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Social distancing vs church distancing. . .

In the several videos of the Divine Service we have posted from our parish, you will note that we use the shorter rubrics for the Divine Service on a weekday but it is a full service.  We bow and genuflect and wear the ordinary Eucharistic vestments and treat the Divine Service no differently than before.  Certainly not do we act casually simply because fewer people are present.  The sermons, though slightly shorter, are full sermons, built upon the pericopes of the day but with a special concern for the challenges of life under this pandemic.  We distribute as we did before but with only the Pastor distributing.  We have music, at least one hymn per service and some service music.  There is the Confession and Absolution.  It is as normal as we can get in this abnormal time.

There is a reason for this.  We may be forced to practice social distancing which prevents us from being closer in the pews, from having the numbers we would normally have (especially for Holy Week and Easter), and we may have to sign up for the spots in the Divine Service, BUT we do not practice church distancing.  Though some for various reasons (all well and good) have chosen to shelter at home, the Church must act with the same dignity and nobility as she has before for the sake of the faithful and as a witness to those outside the household of faith.

So those who watch those videos at home, do not treat them the way you would some cutesy YouTube video or Facebook meme in which you watch in your pajamas with coffee or other beverage in your hand.  Do not watch casually by while something distinctly profound happens -- even on video!  Watch as you would if you had been there.  Put on your normal clothes.  Sit together as a family (or, if alone, sit up and take notice all by yourself).  Bow your head when we pray.  Make the sign of the cross when appropriate.  Listen with the intention of the heart, moved by the Spirit to faith.  While the bread and cup are being consecrated, meditate on the sacramental mysteries that for now you are not present to receive.  When the distribution is taking place, make your own spiritual communion, praying with those communing and praying earnestly for that day when your participation in the Divine Service will not be via a screen.  Remember you are still no spectator watching from afar.  There may be social distancing but not church distancing.

Let me say one more thing.  Do not make the myriad of social media choices a buffet to find something you like or something new and different or something funny and distracting.  If you cannot be present at the Church, watch first and foremost the videos put out by your pastors and your congregation.  Your pastors are praying for you and working their tails off trying to serve the people under their care in very difficult circumstances.  Even from the distance of social media, they are still YOUR pastors.  Supplement with the good choices available (devotions from our Synod President, 15 minutes of Bible study with Pastor William Weedon via Lutheran Public Radio, news of the world and the Church via Issues, Etc., the daily offerings of music and the Word from KFUO, and the constant musical presence of Lutheran Public Radio.

If you need to speak with your pastors, CALL HIM.  Email him.  Text him.  Whatever, but do not presume that your pastor is too busy to care for you.  He is not.  He is looking for ways to serve you and YOU must help him out by letting him know what is on your mind, what is your pain (and your joy) in this terrible time, and if there is something in particular he can do to help you through it all (like a personal visit with Holy Communion).

Finally, support the work of your church.  Send your offerings via snail mail or see if your church has an online giving option or PayPal giving option.  Do what YOU can to make sure that the work of the Kingdom goes on even amid these difficult circumstances.

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