Dear Church Family,
I don’t know if you noticed, but we had some sound issues on our worship live stream on Sunday November 8th. I also know that most of you still listened and appreciated the special service of All Saints to honor those who have died from among our membership this year. Though it wasn’t perfect, the service gave space for us to remember together and was a meaningful time.
To be sure, we want to give space for our musicians to play their pieces again, as their hard work got missed in the recording, and we plan to do just that. But I wonder if in these days of stress and distance, we need a reminder about grace. I know I certainly needed that reminder for myself on Sunday – realizing that a setting that I changed when we recorded the trick-or-treat event on Friday could so easily mess up the sound on Sunday morning left me emotionally exhausted – and for all those volunteers who help with sound and video and live stream, it was a hard morning of troubleshooting and failing to figure out the issues until it was too late.
But the reminder I was given was that despite the sound issues, God was worshiped, children were taught, a message was proclaimed, and our lost church family members were remembered. I have to keep reminding myself that perfection isn’t possible on this side of heaven, and that each of us must give ourselves – and others – grace when things are not perfect.
I’m reminded of all our studies of the Israelites and their complaining in the wilderness about things not being perfect, and how God kept showing up in spite of it all with grace and mercy in abundance. I’m also reminded of the early church where Paul was constantly reminding Christians that the work of Christ’s Kingdom is hindered when complaints rule our relationships. The Golden Rule applies – if you wouldn’t want others to complain when you’re putting in good work for the Kingdom, then it would be best when things aren’t perfect to instead take a moment and remember how it would feel to hear a complaint if you were the one doing the work.
Worship has never been a performance. That doesn’t change just because it’s recorded or live streamed. We will likely never produce a Broadway-worthy recording, especially with amateur volunteers (and amateur pastors who also aren’t used to being live streamed!), but we are always seeking to honor God and do our best. And those weeks it doesn’t turn out like we want it to, I hope and pray that each of us can take stock of what did happen well and focus on those, rather than just focusing on those things that happened poorly.
We have for months done our very best to make a quality worship experience possible remotely. It hasn’t always been easy, and it hasn’t always been perfect, but we have a dedicated team of worship leaders who have given of themselves, learned many new things very quickly, and who continue to learn each week as we continue to adapt to our changing world.
I ask for your grace in these days for all of those involved. I ask that your words be uplifting and kind, not just when things go well – but when they don’t (perhaps especially when they don’t!). Many church leaders (both staff and lay leaders) are tired, struggling, and need your help and support now more than ever.
So, please offer whatever grace you can as we face this hard season together – it is traumatic for us all to live in isolation, to worship virtually, to not have the in-person community that strengthens us day by day. We need to uplift each other, offer help where we can, and love and support those who are showing up, learning new things, and offering of themselves selflessly each week.
A prayer we might say regularly to help us with this is the Prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
May we all bring Christ’s light and love to this dark world.