FROM ELDER BEV GRAVES
“The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.”
I’m often “Liberty late”—even to virtual church. But with a lag time of just five minutes, I park myself on my singular worship pew in my sunroom; I power up my iPad; I tune in and focus. I’ve already showered and done my hair, though no will see me. Some Sunday habits still are sacred even though invisibility is a blessing when in need of a haircut eight weeks ago.
I sing “My Life is in You, Lord” along with the worship team and count the number of times the bell rings as I have done regularly in “real” church for ages. I envision kids at home responding to the children’s moment and secretly also interlace my fingers and form a steeple with my index fingers if asked to do so by Pastor John. A child still exists in all of us.
If I miss a line of scripture, I rewind. If I want to write something down word-for-word, no sweat. Virtual reality means virtual repeats. What I can’t completely answer is my need to do this at 10 o’clock Sunday mornings. After all, the podcast is at my beck-and-call in a COVID-19 world because few events in life really need a schedule anymore.
But I just know I am not alone at the 10 o’clock hour even though I am alone. I believe that others in their pews are counting the bells along with me. I sense someone is praying earnestly. I see parents helping their three-year-old’s fold their hands. I drink my coffee knowing that someone else is lifting a cup right along with me, and I believe “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds …”—even in cyberspace.
Some of what defines Liberty’s witness as an “all-hands-on-deck” church, such as His Place and Walls Build, is on hold. Some traditions, such as linking hands during worship, may be gone forever. Even though we live in a world of sight, taste, sound, touch, and smell, we thrive in spirit and in peace with others. None of us is alone in truth if worship is four walls enclosing Christians in faith. It doesn’t really make much difference if those walls are virtually constructed for 10 o’clock Sunday mornings. What does matter is that God abides within us so we can single-heartedly bear witness to the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to a waiting and watching world—YouTube notwithstanding. We still are a community of believers, sensing each other’s presence and God’s perfect peace even in solitude.