‘Haven’t you heard? Jesus is appearing on Zoom*. All you need is the code and the password. Yup, forget the Second Coming, this is the new plan. We can meet Jesus on Zoom.’
What if this were true? What if we could each meet with Jesus on Zoom individually?! No sharing with others. How cool would that be? But you’re hesitating, aren’t you? On Zoom? Really? Something’s missing, isn’t it? There’s something not quite right about this idea. It leaves a hollow taste in the mouth, an empty feeling in the pit of the stomach. Something which should be fantastic feels . . . flat.
Why is that?
So let me ask you, ‘how have you been during lockdown?’ ‘How has your church family been doing?’ I have no doubt that there have been many challenges. Some have been working harder, putting in longer hours. Others have struggled to home educate their children while working from home, while still others have been holed up in front of a screen. All day. Some love the isolation; others are climbing the walls.
I have watched as churches have unlocked untold creativity to deal with the crisis. Zoom church has given digital creative types the chance to shine. At times, it’s been inspiring.
And yet . . .
You know what church families have found most difficult during lockdown? Not being together. The inability to hug and touch and speak face-to-face. The lack of physical closeness. We miss each other so much, don’t we? We long to be close to those whom we love. And as helpful as Zoom might be, it can’t even begin to compensate for our lack of physical proximity.
This lack that we feel is grounded in the nature of the God we worship. When God desired to communicate his love, he chose a physical form, that breathed and sweated, ate and drank, laughed and cried. He chose a body of flesh, because we are physical beings. He chose a human body to enable him to connect with us as embodied souls. Not just souls, not just spirits, but embodied souls. Furthermore the Incarnation enabled him to express some spiritual truths which are so remarkable, well, you need someone like St. Augustine to express them.
Man's maker was made man that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother's breast; that the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on its journey; that Truth might be accused of false witnesses, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood; that Strength might grow weak; that the Healer might be wounded; that Life might die.
St. Augustine of Hippo.
The Incarnation gives us the reason why we have missed each other so much during lockdown.
At some point in the future, we will all meet again back in our church buildings. Perhaps before then, we’ll meet in a park, if the weather permits during the summer months. Who knows? There is a temptation, isn’t there, from our experience of lockdown, to hail the benefits of Zoom. It’s a time-saver. It’s more efficient. In limiting our travel, it’s good for the environment. All of these might be good reasons – you must decide. However, our yearning to be together physically is healthy and good and right. It is my belief that we hold onto Zoom after lockdown at our peril. Believers need to meet together. Long before coronavirus or Zoom or lockdowns, the writer to the Hebrews urged his readers, ‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’
The Day is approaching.
I think it’s a good word to hold onto as our world gradually emerges from lockdown.
*other video-conferencing platforms are available