My family enjoys sitting in the front yard and chatting with the neighbors that walk by. Sometimes people walk by with headphones and say nothing at all. Most of the time they wave and give the obligatory hello. But sometimes they stop and chat. All sorts of things get talked about on the porch of the house. We share a bit of ourselves and become more invested in our neighbors. This is where the door to community is opened. The thing is, the porch is only a taste of the greater community life that is found within the home. Moving from porch friends to friends coming over for a meal is a big and important step. The porch functions as a gateway to table fellowship but is not a replacement for it. It is always exciting when neighbors take the next step and come in. The church functions in a similar way.
Every Sunday the family of God gathers to worship together. In the house of God, we are called to God’s table to break bread with Him and each other. At the communion table we receive the body and blood of Jesus. This is the true food and true drink that sustains our spiritual lives and unites the one family. The Eucharist is fundamental to our relationship with Christ and with each other.
When we consider how the Lord has led us through the pandemic into an online format, one might ask, what function does an online service play within the worshipping community and especially at Holy Trinity?
Our online presence is a vital one. It is vital not because it is an end unto itself but because it functions as a porch. I am amazed at how many people engage in our online worship every Sunday. Typically, we have 8-10 live viewers at any given time. By Monday morning our broadcast will often have 100 - 150 views. Many of these viewers do not watch very long but some do. They are the neighbors who stick around to chat. Our online presence is like sitting on the porch of the church. We are open to chat with anyone who walks by. Our hope is that these neighbors might one day become more than a neighbor. We hope that one day they will be adopted by our heavenly Father and come in and eat with us.
Online fellowship and worship is not a substitute for the gathered church. This is because the Church is not an idea communicated online but an embodiment of Christ lived in His followers. Being a mother or father or sister or brother takes more than good thoughts. It is lived out. At the communion table we are reminded of Christ’s life poured out and his continued presence with us in the sacrament. He is not on the other side of a screen far away but within us. The great fellowship of God’s family can never fully be captured online. The best we can do online is sit on the porch and hint at a greater mystery for those neighbors who would come in.
Holy Trinity Anglican Church
PO Box 81804, San Diego, CA 92138