When the time comes for us to worship in person once again, it clearly will be a different experience than what we are used to. I have seen many people imagine worship with face masks and social distance. Every other pew will be marked off in order to give us the requisite 6 feet of space. Singing, we are told, is also a problem, as the air-borne droplets can carry the novel coronavirus. We won’t be singing in church any time soon. Many of us have been plumbing whatever creativity we can access to imagine how we can serve communion in a safe way. Bring your own elements? Prepackaged, sterile containers? It is hard to look ahead at such a worship service and imagine that it would be more satisfying than the worship we are currently experiencing remotely. However, what would happen if we didn’t try to recreate the worship we know?
I am convinced that the unusual circumstances we are living with offer opportunities for our spiritual growth, both as individuals and as a church. Maybe the next phase in our journey will include a worship service that makes use of silence, or meditative spaces, rather than singing? The music of Taize might serve as an example, if the music is used to create a prayerful experience rather than for corporate singing. Perhaps we can find ways to imagine the spaces we must create between us as spaces filled with intentions and prayers for one another? Maybe we can create these experiences in smaller groups and build deeper relationships as we do so? What about using visual art in our worship?
This has been a season of many losses for all of us. Let’s not experience worship as a loss as well. Building a service that attempts to be what worship was, will inevitably feel like such a loss. Instead, let’s enliven our worship with new patterns and practices, broadening our experience and creating new opportunities for our neighbors new connect with us and our faith. What are your ideas for worship in our next, less socially distanced season?