We had a parking lot service this morning. Our church had one last week as well, but it was pouring down rain, and we didn’t try to make it. Instead we watched the on-line Sunday school class (pausing for discussion among the three of us at the appropriate times) and the on-line sermon (after listening to a couple specially chosen YouTube praise songs.) You may have done something similar.
Today threatened rain again, but we prayed a lot, and early this morning the forecast showed the storm passing to the south. Clouds grew dark to the north and south, but it did not “come nigh us.“ There were maybe forty cars. Some people parked to the side and pulled out lawn chairs to arrange in family groups in the yard. Others sat in lawn chairs in front of their cars. One family had a nest in the back of their pickup. Some, like us, sat in cars with open windows and waved and shouted across the parking lot to friends we hadn’t seen in weeks.
When the music started, led by a praise team raised on a trailer bed, I was fine. That is, I was fine until I thought about what we were doing—praising God together at our church after weeks of isolation in our homes. Then my throat tightened, and I was totally incapable of making so much as a joyful noise to the Lord. My heart rejoiced, but my voice was silent and the tears filled my eyes. God is not limited to a building. His body did not fall apart when we were separated. Although some of us are all for returning to normal (an earlier service was held in the sanctuary with limited numbers, social distancing and the congregation dismissed by rows like a wedding), and others of us are more reluctant, we are one body whose head is Christ, one family with God as our Father.
After the sermon from 1 Kings about setting up idols in place of God and foolishly giving them credit for what God has done, we sang one last song. Some people stood by their lawn chairs. Others got out of their cars to stand and sing. I didn’t dare. I knew if I did, I would be totally incapable of singing, but inside I was overwhelmed with praise for the God who is bringing us through this pandemic, the One who knows the end from the beginning, the One who is greater than all our fears and has a plan to give us a future and a hope.
What have your worship experiences been these last few weeks?
A Psalm for Covid Worship
Praise God on your computer.
Praise him with YouTube and streaming sermons.
Praise him on your sofa in front of the TV
And on your phone in the quiet of your room.
For the Lord is God;
He is not confined to a church building;
His love is not lessened by distancing,
His power not hampered by rules.
Praise God in your church parking lot.
Praise him from your car or pickup.
Praise him from lawn chairs
And blankets on the grass.
He made the sky above you
and the grass beneath your seat.
His faithfulness keeps us in the midst of pandemic;
Together or apart we are one body with him as head.
Praise God in the sanctuary.
Praise him as you keep your distance,
protecting those he loves.
Praise him for the grace of life
and for the blessing of good health.
Praise God in this uncertain time.
Praise him as you wash your hands.
Praise him as you put on your mask.
Put your trust in him even as you follow guidelines.
Trust only in him; he will never fail.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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