Into the Mystic: Where Two or Three are Gathered

Into the Mystic: Where Two or More Are GatheredJesus once promised that where two or three are gathered, that His Spirit would be with us. But how does that work in the age of coronavirus, where we are forced to have worship services digitally?

How are you holding up, gentle listener? This is a challenging time for all of us as the corona virus continues to reach out and affect and disrupt our lives together.

Here in Ohio earlier this week, the Governor issued a stay at home order. We are not the first state to be under such and order, and we won’t be the last. Most of our churches have already volunteered to shut down their in person meetings and worship. For the second week in a row, my spouse and I sat together on the couch on a Sunday morning and gathered with almost 200 people to give thanks to God and to pray for/with one another.

At that worship, and specifically during the Children’s sermon,  the Rev. Beau Dansizen shared that one of the children asked him: “If God is in  the sanctuary, then how can God be with us when we are sitting at home?”. Pretty perceptive – and a very good question.

Beau’s answer is what I want to reflect on. He reminded the children that Jesus told us that whenever two or three gather in his name, he is there. As he said that, I immediately thought about my Mimi and me – sitting there on the couch sharing the screen on my laptop. We were the two gathered, and I found it very gratifying to know that just the simple act of us being two also made it possible for the Spirit of the risen Christ to also be with us.

We are going to continue to experience each other in many different ways; and we will also be  surprised by the capacity that God has to render meaning in our lives as our worship practices broaden.

Even those who live alone, and who sit by themselves at the computer  screen while attending worship are not really alone. The Spirit of God pervades all the spaces  our bodies occupy; and neither time nor distance alters in any  way her capacity to draw us together. It may be a new way for us to think about ‘where two or  three  gather,’ but the gathering feels real  even when  it  is digital.

Every Sunday I open Google  Hangout and play with my grandchildren. Elizabeth, who is one year old,  brings her favorite stuffed  animal  to show me; while Jacob, who just turned five, brings whatever new lego he built. We laugh and dance  and  even play  hide and seek together. Would I rather be there  with them? Of course – but maintaining that connection even when I can’t be right there  with them matters. It builds and strengthens our relationship.  

And so it is with those who are used  to being in worship spaces together. God isn’t  going  to NOT show up just because  our gathering is more digital than personal. The connection we crave  can be satiated by sitting with  a loved one, or alone, on your  couch or at your  kitchen table. 

One of the things I am loving about this is the whole time the worship is unfolding, the chat  function on Zoom or FaceBook live is constantly being used. People are commenting  on how  beautiful  the  song being played  is;  or about prayer concerns they want  lifted up; or how that  particular line in the sermon meant so much to them. We  really don’t make space for that in our  face to face worship – and I find myself making even deeper connections with those gathered online because of that.

When Jesus said he would be with  us  when two or more gather – maybe  he  didn’t anticipate what digital  technology would render us capable of doing to transform our being together. But I discern that he  has kept that promise  as we meet by  internet rather than  in sanctuary.

God is good, we often say. And the reply is ‘all the time.’ Corona virus may require our distancing from one another physically, but spiritually we work with the Creator of all this is  good and discover She will  find a way to meet us under any circumstances. Let that abiding presence continue to enrich your life on this, our journey  Into the Mystic.

Categories: Column Into the Mystic

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