It’s appropriate that today’s lectionary passage includes Moses being used by God to bring forth water from a stone – helping to quench the thirst of God’s people. Today – all over the world – churches are utilizing the “stone” of technology to help offer words of prayer, encouragement, worship, and the Word of God to their people. This can be both humbling and encouraging. Humbling, because as we look at all the streams of content being offered by incredibly gifted people – we are only one of many many people/sources God is using. But it’s also encouraging, because as so many “streams” come to the surface, we are reminded that our Sunday worship experience has never been about providing or consuming the best “product”.
We can only quench the thirst of God’s people by confessing ourselves unable to bring forth the living water. As God’s people – we can only have our thirsts quenched if we remember those on the stage, and now on the screen, can only point us to the water God provides.
With these things in mind, I offer these encouragements:
- If possible, gather with someone beside you. If you share a home/apartment with others, obviously it’s good to set aside a specific time to dedicate to weekly worship. It’s okay if the kids involved are giggly – so are you really. This is new for everyone, and feels different. If you live alone, consider reaching out to someone else who lives alone and having a “watch party” of some sort. If it’s still not possible, rest in the peace of knowing you’re united globally with all of God’s people in His presence.
- Prepare in the same way you would in a world where you couldn’t “Press Pause”. Finish your snack, use the restroom, turn off distractions, and prepare to give yourself fully to these moments – whatever that means.
- Begin with prayer. Before you even “click play”, purposefully invite the Holy Spirit into these moments and the space you worship Him in. Confess your need, and commit to “setting apart” this time and space for His use.
- Start with a Psalm of invitation. Connect your modern stream to the ancient streams that have been flowing for millennia. Not sure which one to use? Here’s a great daily/weekly resource that can offer you the same passages people are using all over the world that day.
- Scripture. Do you already know what passage is being talked about/focused on that day? Spend a moment reading the Word of God before service, in preparation for your heart and mind to receive what God may want to offer you.
- Sing. If your church offers a virtual song or ten, that’s cool. Join with them. If not (or if you didn’t feel like singing along with a laptop speaker), find a way to express your worship. If you have kids, take a moment to sing “Father Abraham” or ask what song they’d love to sing. Google a favorite hymn, and sing the part you love – share why you love it with those near you. Invite the kids during the week to prepare pictures or poems to share in these moments.
- Give. Yes, the world is filled with uncertainties. All the more reason to offer God a sacrifice of love in our worship that declares it all belongs to Him, and we trust Him to provide. Maybe your church has online giving available – awesome. Maybe it means writing a check, and getting it ready to mail. Maybe it means sealing it in an envelope, and committing to give it next time the church is open. If you feel like you’ll be tempted to open it – find someone to keep you accountable.
- Feast on the Word. If your pastor/church is providing a sermon/message, spend time receiving it from them. It will be tempting to click on the other mega-churches with the well-dressed pastors and slick productions. These aren’t bad – save those for later in the week if you want. I believe in the power of a local pastor who speaks to Her specific sheep each week from the Word of God for those people in that place. If your church is unable to provide anything online – don’t fear! The Bible is still open. Check out what passage is being opened globally, and read through it slowly. Imagine how it may have been to hear these words for the first time, or see the event they describe. What might God be speaking through them still today?
- Prayer. Respond to the Word of God in prayer. We are in a season of many unknowns globally, and in the midst of a Lenten season which prepares us through humility to receive Easter. Confess. Give prayers to God. Give praises to God. Receive from God.
- Receive the benediction. Hold your hands out as an outward symbol of your desire to receive a blessing. (If you’re not given one, click here and let it be sung to you.) Not for your own sake, but that you may be a source of God’s presence & blessing to others this week. Know that even stuck at home, you are “sent out” for the purposes of God and His Kingdom. There is no “pause button” on the Love of God, and you are already in relationship with so many who are thirsty…
These are moments that can shape us. These are moments that definitely are shaping our children. Let’s embrace them, and offer them to a God who has shown Himself faithful for so many generations before us…
For more resources to use beyond Sundays, check out “SPLINK” for families. It gives free weekly content to use at home. For individuals – there are so many great resources you probably already know about. The point is – do something. Begin to build daily patterns of allowing yourself to be shaped by the presence & Word of God…even a few moments at a time.