We’ve held “online services” for for worship at home for a month now. I am still not adjusted. And I’m not growing to enjoy it. Yes, there are things that I’m learning. There are ways in which I believe this season has the potential to help us for the long haul. But I’m still not okay with not physically gathering as the church. Nor should we be. It wasn’t meant to be this way.
There is another aspect which I have missed considerably. Namely, worship through song. Now don’t hear me wrong. Our praise team has done a phenomenal job of still putting a few songs together each week for us to worship through. They’ve been fitting and helpful. But, it’s not the same. At all.
Part of this might be that I can’t carry a tune so I need louder music around me to actually feel like I can squeak out a few notes louder than a mumble. But I also believe there is a theological reason why your singing along with the television isn’t the same thing as your experience on Sunday morning. And I hope we remember this and carry it with us even after this thing is over. You and I are meant to “sing to one another” and you cannot do that as well with worship at home. It’s hard to live out Ephesians 5:18-19 in your living room.
As we sing theologically rich songs, like some of those precious hymns, we are proclaiming and teaching the excellency of God from one generation to another. Or maybe as we sing some of the emotionally encouraging modern songs we are encouraging one another to hold fast to Christ.
We must not forsake either dimension of worship. To only sing vertically is to forget that we were saved into a people. It isn’t just me and Jesus. My relationship with God is intimately connected to the vital companionship I share with my brothers and sisters. So we need to sing songs together. And to one another.
Likewise if I only sing horizontally I will be missing the personal aspect of my relationship with God. And eventually we won’t have much to sing. Our worship ought to be corporately Godward. There shouldn’t be a deep split between the vertical and horizontal. As we sing about the Lord and to the Lord we are doing this together and encouraging one another.
If there wasn’t a horizontal aspect to worship then we could have easily moved it to our living room without missing a beat. But we haven’t and we cannot. There is a horizontal dimension to our worship, and we would do well to remember this when we’re no longer providentially hindered from gathering.
This article about worship at home originally appeared here.