Online church service was the last thing a Christian would have imagined happening in a digitalization age, but it all happened in 2020. Our Church started an online service from the second week of March. While we met in Church for two months in September-October, we were partially online even then. This period of singing and listening to sermons from zoom has changed how I define church service, and I am sure it has changed yours too.
Despite almost a year of online church service, I wasn’t ready for the online Christmas celebration. Christmas is about meeting people, exchanging good wishes through hugs and eye contact, and a combined love feast. The online celebration would mean that the internet will deprive us of these opportunities of meeting fellow Christian brothers and sisters.
Happy Birthday, Jesus Christ.
To respect the French government's rules and regulations and to protect our vulnerable elders, we had an online service.
On 25th December 2020, I could attend not only one but two different Christmas service.
First church service
I joined the first Christmas celebration with my friends from Mumbai. Because of the time difference of 5 hours and 30 mins, I was still sleeping when their church started. Thanks to Zoom, I didn’t have to show my full face to attend this service. I listened to their worship, special songs, and sermon while turning my video off. I was excited yet nervous about joining a church service with my old church after six years.
The only problem of this zoom service was personal greetings after the last prayer of the Christmas service. Every participant was speaking and wishing that almost no one was audible because of noise. I missed talking with my friends and wishing them personally. But that part can be done through private communications in the evening, too.
To see my friends and their family on this auspicious day was noteworthy. It was worthy and a beautiful service. I thanked God for the zoom. Had the service not been online, I would have missed this year's celebration too.
Second service in France
An hour later, after completing the first, the second service was with my local church in France. I have been visiting this Anglican Church since I came to France. Thankfully English and Not French church service. If you have ever visited France, you might know how difficult is it to find English speakers in France. We had a typical English service, completed within one hour. A low turn out than normal Sundays (It always happens during Christmas), but people were still singing and sharing their wishes with everyone. We were physically far, but dress up enthusiasm and attendees' dedication was so encouraging that I felt we were meeting on a church building and not just online. After I finished with my second service, I had tea and biscuits to energize me.
Online Christmas celebration was weird, but it was better than having nothing. I wonder how did people meet for Sunday service during Spanish flu. Did they ever meet any member outside the family during the second and third waves of the pandemic? You and I might have many complaints about our Christmas celebration, but we should not forget to thank God for the technologies that connected us.
We hope the 2021 Christmas service will be better than ever, and till then, we keep sharing love and joy with the world. After all, Christmas is about sharing encouragement and love rather than love feast and decorations.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot birthday boy today. Happy Birthday, Jesus Christ.