Yesterday morning we live-streamed our service for the first time. There were nine of us in the church – myself; Deacon deniray; Dennis our music director; our four wonderful choral scholars, Nathan, John, Amanda and Sam; and Daniel and Molly to work the camera and manage the stream. The service was an emotional roller-coaster for me. I found myself very anxious at the beginning, shaking a little at the thought of being live on the internet. My voice developed an unfortunate tendency to break, and I barely got through some of the sung prayers. And then this wonderful moment happened. We were singing one of the hymns, and I felt the need to sing loudly in order to support whatever singing was happening among those who were viewing at home, and suddenly I was struck by the transcendent beauty of the choral scholar’s voices. I let go, and floated on that beauty, dropping out for half a line, then coming back in to sing softly, to try to blend my voice with theirs. And later, as they sang an anthem, I sat and felt it sweep over me. I was lifted out of myself, as I often am when I hear live music, lifted into that place of deep contemplation and a sense of God’s nearness that it’s been hard to enter into during these past weeks.
I felt, afterwards, that our identity as a worshipping community had really been saved by our campus ministry. We have all sorts of ways of being a community. We can be a learning community, and a community of love and support, and a charitable community, and a community of social action. But all of these things are sustained by worship. And without Daniel and Molly to teach me how to livestream and run the camera, and without the choral scholars and Dennis’ able direction, we would not have been able to worship in a way that felt familiar.
Governor DeWine has ordered that we all stay at home, although there is an exemption for religious gatherings. We might be able to livestream again next week, although I won’t put anyone in danger by requiring them to come and sing or work the technology. If we can’t livestream, then yesterday was a shining, golden moment. We’ll find other ways to be supported by each other’s voices. We’ll find other ways to worship together. But how glad I am that we had a service yesterday, that we were all, whether at home or at the church, able to see our beautiful sanctuary, and hear at least some of each other’s voices.