By Ed Thompson
It was probably not the smartest thing that we’ve ever done, but my wife and I traveled to Massachusetts over the Thanksgiving holiday. If my granddaughter were 21 years old instead of 21 months old, I probably would have been satisfied with visiting with her on Zoom; however, although she sees us and we see her when we use Zoom, it’s just not the same as being there in person. Her communication skills are getting better all the time, but it’s so much more fun to be there with her.
Watching her scribble with crayons or pretending to put her dolls to bed, covering them with a blanket and then patting them on the back, and saying, “Night, night” just filled me with delight. It also generated a deep sense of thanksgiving. I am grateful that I have a beautiful, spunky, and spirit-filled granddaughter. I am grateful that I have a beautiful daughter that takes delight in her daughter. I am grateful that I have a beautiful wife who loves to read and play games with her granddaughter and who delights in helping children find books and adults find books for children at her job with the library. I have been blessed.
As odd as it might seem and in spite of some of the complaints I have made about it in the past, I am also grateful for Zoom. On Wednesday, we had another of our weekly pastors’ Zoom meetings. Seeing the faces and hearing the voices of our pastors also filled me with delight. I am grateful for them, for the work they are doing, for those who spent the holiday at home, and for those who, like my wife and I, took the risk to visit their families over Thanksgiving.
Zoom allows us to make those connections. Maybe it’s not as good as being there in person and seeing each other face-to-face, but it’s still good. I need to appreciate that. It keeps us safe. It allows us to be comfortable. No one knows if you’re wearing jeans, shorts, or your pajamas unless you tell them or you get up and forget to turn off your camera so that they can see what you’re wearing. It saves us money and it saves us time, as we don’t have to travel to meet face to face.
We’ve done our last two Presbytery meetings over Zoom. Again, while I would have preferred to have met in person, I don’t want to discredit the work we were able to do. Perhaps we might have had more robust discussion on certain points if we had been together in person, but we were able to consider the work that was before us, we were able to worship God, and we were able to learn from two capable presenters. Those are good things.
In the future, we may want to have some of our meetings over Zoom even when we are able to meet in person. I think of our fall Presbytery meeting of a couple of years ago when we tried to meet in Ronceverte but got skunked by the snow two different times. How much easier would it have been to simply switch to meeting by Zoom instead of having to reschedule?
Let me leave you with two questions:
One, how will you use Zoom (or other similar technologies) in a post-Covid world? Granted, the coronavirus, like the flu, may always be with us, and we will end up getting Covid shots every year, much like we do flu shots now. However, at some point, we will be able to meet safely in person once again.
In that new world, I think we will still want to make worship available online because we’re able to reach people who don’t live near us as well as those whose schedules make worship on Sunday mornings more difficult or less desirable. Maybe we would also want to make session meetings or church school classes available online as well. Maybe that would allow people to participate who otherwise would choose not to do so. Maybe another way to phrase that question would be what will a post-Covid world look like in your church? Saying it’s going to be just like it was in February 2020 is the wrong answer.
The second question is: what are you thankful for? These questions might seem more appropriate last month as we were getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving. However, I also think they fit well in this season of Advent as we watch and wait and prepare the way for what God is about to do.