Pentecost is one of the highlights of the year as we remember the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, described in Acts 2, and celebrate the birthday of the church. However, this year obviously was very different due to the current lockdown restrictions. Nevertheless, I was glad to have the opportunity to attend a couple of services and decided to share how I worshipped on Pentecost Sunday in 2020.
Our church has been evolving our online services since we first started them. Originally, we used to record a service and put it on our website for people to view. A few weeks ago, we moved to live streaming our services via Zoom and this week in addition to this we also streamed it live on Facebook too. (We are still placing a recording on our website).
Preparing for church is very different these days. On Sunday morning, about 20 minutes before the service, I check the link and password we are using for this week’s service. I normally log on about one minute before the service starts. This is mainly because I do not particularly like looking at myself in the web camera. Once I log onto Zoom I play around with the positioning of my laptop so the webcam is the right level for my wife and I.
It is strange to sit round a laptop to worship but that is how we do this currently. Our service was an all age one which lasted about 35 minutes. The service followed the format of opening song, confession of sin, interactive bible reading, sermon (including animation video), prayer and closing song. The theme was Pentecost and the sermon challenged us to see what God might be doing during this time and to be praying and preparing ourselves for life after lockdown, being ready to share His love with those who do not know Him.
Following the service, we had “virtual coffee”. Basically, the Zoom admin person randomly sends us into breakout rooms with 2 or 3 others and we chat for about 10 minutes. We are then brought back together and repeat the exercise. This has been a good way of getting to know some church members who I had not previously spoken with.
In the evening I attended the Diocese of Guildford Pentecostal Prayer Service which was streamed live via their YouTube channel. The service lasted about 55 minutes and contained prayers, songs, greetings from Bishops in Denmark and Pakistan, a very funny sketch based on Acts 2, a sermon, and a song from a Coptic Church in Surrey.
It goes without saying that watching a service on a laptop or the TV is not the same as attending one in real life. However, sadly that option is not available to us yet. It is wonderful that despite the lockdown we still have this technology that we can use to worship God. There is a lot of work that is put in by technically gifted people to ensure that everything works ok. Many people in the world do not have the freedom to worship and so we should be grateful that we still can.
Interestingly in both our services today we were reminded that the disciples were in “lockdown” themselves before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Whilst we would prefer to actual meet as we used to, God can still speak to people and meet them through remote worship. He is not restricted by this. Both services were encouraging, and one felt some excitement in looking forward to what might happen in our churches once we come out of lockdown and can meet again.