It was a Brady Bunch moment as, block by block, smiling faces filled the computer screen and members of the Sunday adult fellowship class came together for the first time since COVID-19 shut down their church.
Uncertain about the times they were facing, as well as the Zoom app they were trialing, the group set out to find comfort and connection through new technology. This day, the close-knit group became an exuberant, coast-to-coast, online faith community.
“Can you hear me?”
“Hi! It’s so good to see you!”
“Can you see me?”
“Oh, this is so nice!”
“Anyone remember the Brady Bunch?”
Friends greeted friends. Enthusiasm led to excitement, which led to exuberance.
We were together! After weeks staying home to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we were together!
We? I had never met these people. Yet, the members of this fellowship class made me feel as if I had known them all my life.
“Hi, Beth!” “Glad you could join us, Beth.”
From my home in the Pennsylvania woodlands, I was connecting with strangers from California who attend Fullerton Free Church.
Several weeks earlier, I had purchased the book, “The Song of My Hope, How to Keep Hope Alive Through Adversity – A True Story,” by Betsy Ridgway. I friended Betsy on Facebook. After connecting electronically, we connected spiritually and became friends.
Betsy mentioned she was preparing a PowerPoint® presentation about the 23rd Psalm. Later, she said the class was going to take place online, and I boldly asked if I could join.
Betsy’s well-researched class couldn’t have been better. The message resonated. We were reminded of God’s role as our shepherd, protector and perfect provider. Virtually, we learned together. Spiritually, we came together as one in His Holy Spirit.
Amid the uncertainty and anxiety of the fast-spreading new COVID-19 virus, I found a comfortable, safe place where like-minded new friends came together to worship Jesus Christ.
We zoomed together to glorify His name.
We zoomed together to pray together.
We tentatively, laughingly learned to mute, unmute and raise our hands to participate. Gratefully, one member was familiar with the software, and she patiently guided us. We may have been unfamiliar with Zooming, but there was no learning curve when it came to Praying. We sure knew how to break down the square barriers on the screen and pray together!
As I sat looking at this incredible group of Christians on my computer screen, I marveled. Having mastered the ‘mute’ function, I said aloud to myself, “I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. I feel so lifted up.”
In that moment, I realized Zoom is a noun, a verb and a metaphor. Zoom is a thing (Software as a Service) that allows us to do something (zoom, zooming or connecting—the verbs) in a way that makes our spirits soar (or, zoom—that’s the metaphor).
This high-tech contraption was giving us the high-touch connection we had been missing since the pandemic’s social distancing phase began. Had this group been sitting in the usual manner—in a church, gathered around a table with coffee, donuts and Bibles—there wouldn’t have been the same palpable eagerness and enthusiasm just for the chance to be together. And inclusion would have been limited by geography. Because this fellowship was forced to find a new way to worship, more people could participate.
There is comfort is sameness, in doing things the way they’ve been done for years. And, yes, change can cause discomfort or even fear. This group surmounted any fears, overcame all technical challenges, and easily accepted newness. This group worshiped. This group soared.
6 Ways to Find Comfort Despite COVID
For all the horrific evil it has brought, the COVID-19 virus has forced people to evaluate what’s really important, such as worshipping God, and find new ways to do what matters most.
“Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me,” David wrote in Psalm 23. Like David, everyone has the tools. Here are six ways to find comfort, calm and more control over your life, even during a pandemic:
- When something is denied or removed from your life, take advantage of the opportunity to evaluate its importance. Let go of anything that’s holding you back. Shed any albatross around your neck, but fight like heck to keep what’s important and meaningful.
- Technology is a God-given resource. Use it! Don’t let technology intimidate you; allow technology to provide you with meaningful new experiences.
- Connect with people who energize and lift you up, especially during this time of great stress. Remember, this group of like-minded people made a stranger feel totally accepted and energized.
- When there are a lot of “new” things to deal with, don’t automatically shut down or get angry because things have changed. Embrace change, pray for the ability to adapt, accept and rise above any fear you may have about dealing with “new.”
- Cherish connections with family and friends. Reach out to them, if only through a phone call or a Zoom session now and then.
- Find new ways to encourage and support others. This may take you out of your comfort zone. But leaving your comfort zone can bring you exciting, spiritually fulfilling new adventures.
You might even zoom!