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Like many, I expected and experienced an unusual Holy Week. But I did not expect to read at two Maundy Thursday services only hours apart yet thousand of miles apart.

Yet that is exactly what happened. Via the Discord app, I read a lesson from Exodus 12 for Mass at Pusey House Oxford. Then a few hours later, I read the Epistle and Psalm 22 for my home parish in Texas. (Yes, in person, and our numbers were kept to ten or under.)

It made for probably my most blessed and memorable Maundy Thursday since I made my profession of faith on one in 1975. Certainly, I have God to thank for so using that cursed coronavirus to bring this about. It was yet another Romans 8:28 day for me.

More importantly, God is using COVID-19 to bring home to the church the importance of both in-person and online worship. If we ever took for granted gathering together in person to worship, we surely do not now! And even most of those who may have considered online worship unimportant take its importance for granted no longer.

If I took either for granted, I do so no longer after this past Holy Week. I often yearn for Pusey House when away from Oxford, yet I got even to read in a Mass there thanks to a technology actually designed for gamers. Then in addition to gathering with friends and reading at my home parish, I took the Holy Sacrament for the first time in weeks. Having to fast from the Sacrament for much of Lent made me appreciate receiving it that much more.

If one were to tell me that I must give up one of those two Maundy Thursday experiences, I would say . . . “No!” Nonetheless after life gets somewhat back to normal, I will be tempted to take both parish and livestream worship for granted. I may be pious but I am also crass and lazy. Going to church will eventually become routine again, and I won’t value it as much as I should. And will I then desire and appreciate livestream worship as much as I do now?

I suspect I will not be the only one in the church so tempted. It is important we guard against that. After we somewhat made do during this pandemic via the internet and by God’s grace, we might afterward think we do not really need in-person worship all that much. But the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews did not say the following for nothing:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (10: 24, 25 ESV)

Most of us are now abstaining from meeting together out of love, prudence, and civil obedience. That can soon become a habit out of negligence and self-indulgence.

It will likely become even more tempting to neglect livestream worship. After all, continuing that would be an added complication once in-person worship resumes, and it will be less needed.

Yes, the livestreaming of services will be less needed. But it will still be needed and appreciated. There will still be those who out of age or illness or because they watch over a loved one or are a first responder or any number of important and valid reasons cannot attend in-person services on Sundays. Livestreaming may not be practical for every parish, but doing our best to broadcast services is an act of loving ministry towards people such as these.

And do not forget that many do not live within driving distance of a parish offering traditional Anglican worship. Are we to deprive these of the glories of Anglicanism? Perish the thought!

And – now I will get a bit selfish – I do not want to miss Pusey House so much again. I can say the same about another Anglican church or two as I’m sure others can. We cannot gather together in person as much as we desire. So let us gather together online as well.

Let us not neglect to meet together, both in person and online.

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