Sometimes, theology happens in the moment. But more often, theology happens when Christians look back on personal or corporate experience, and try to make sense of the Spirit’s movements. Of course, once Jesus enters the picture, our sense of past, present, and future all sort of go out the window—but one thing is true: our sense of who and what God is is deeply influenced by how we understand the incarnation: God with us.
And so today, just 24 hours after inviting The Community (both online and offline) to join General Synod staff in celebrating the baptism of my son Eben, I find myself lost in reflection. Theologizing (I hate that word). What just happened? Where was God in all of this? What can this experience teach us about God’s grace? Where was Christ’s Body made manifest: the bread? The congregation at Church House? The community gathered online? And while I’m certainly astounded by the sacrament of baptism itself, I find myself reflecting on the mysterious experience of being surrounded by a rather haphazard community-of-online-saints.
If you haven’t been following, we chose to welcome Eben into the Church in a way that included as many as possible: our close family and friends, yes, but also friends, family, and believers around the world, and across the boundaries of denomination. As our small physical community gathered at 80 Hayden Street around water, bread, and wine, a larger community joined us from outside those walls.
Immediately following the service, I peeked at my phone. It was filled with SMS messages from others joining us on their computer screens. The YouTube chat log was filled with responses to the sermon and the liturgy, as well as answers to Baptismal Covenant’s questions. Facebook was filled with shared posts, prayers, and supportive comments.
“God is the host and all are welcome guests.” YES!
“The Peace of Christ be with you.”
“Continue, persevere, repent, return, proclaim, seek, serve, love, strive, respect, safeguard, sustain, renew….words to live by!”
Amazing. Astounding. We were surrounded by the community of believers. And while I do believe the Communion of Saints is always present, yesterday I experienced something new: the gift of a community gathered in the here-and-now, despite our geographical limitations. As one colleague said earlier today, “Limitation? What’s that?”
What are your thoughts on technology in worship? On using new tools to gather and pray over long distances? Where do you think the limitations are? Leave you thoughts in the comments below. Let’s unpack this together. And in the meantime, take a peek and the recording of our webcast!