“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am with them”
~ Matthew 18:20 (NLV)
Online Church isn’t the same. But its still good. In fact, its better than good – its great. At least we live in a time where this is an option to help us all be connected. It isn’t safe for us to gather so many people together. We need to stop the spread of illness. This Coronavirus is scary and serious.
CDC guidelines, State mandates, and other words my eyes quickly skimmed led me to a sentence I never thought I’d read in an email from my church. Church services in our building are canceling until May 17. We’ll have online service options with a few leaders and a devotional during the week. Facebook, email, and our website will update you.
I know we’re not the only church dealing with this. You are probably feeling as numb as I am. No, I don’t make it to church every week but the idea of it being gone for two months feels like someone punching me in the stomach. I cried. I cried and I prayed again for help and comfort for us all right now. Then Matthew 18:20 came to mind.
I love the whole verse, especially now, but today my heart was drawn specifically to the word “where”.
I always viewed this verse to mean as long as people are physically together in some place that place can be a place of worship. It can be Holy. The woods, the beach, the lake, the mountains, my kitchen, your living room, someone’s yard, a table at a pub, or a crowded arena can all be places for God if our intentions are set on Him. The “where” wasn’t limited just to the church building as long as we were all together some place.
This is different though. Our “where” now requires us to not be physically together in any format. So now what? Does the internet count as “a place”?
The most common definition for “where” in the dictionary is “in or to what place or position.” It speaks about a specific location. That’s how I’ve always looked at it and why I felt so unsettled at first. However, if you keep reading there is another definition I think applies to where we all are right now:
where (adverb): the place or situation in which.
The place or situation in which. The situation in which. If that doesn’t apply to how we’re all experiencing life and worship right now, I don’t know what does. If we slide that version into the verse, instead of just leaning on the word “where” so heavily, this verse becomes the cornerstone of this new “social distancing” worship style we need to embrace.
For the situation in which two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am with them
~ Matthew 18:20
No matter where we are, if we are connecting with each other during this situation, He is with us. Our worships will be different than in the past, but the core practice of people who love God learning about him and loving each other are there. The building and proximity to our church family does not make a church. The people and their willingness to find God and each other in creative ways no matter the circumstances does.
Online church isn’t the same. But its still good. Its our time to look at things a little differently and learn new things about ourselves and those around us. Online church isn’t the same but it will still be good. It will still be church.