These days, worship in the sanctuary of our tiny rural church feels almost as solitary as worship in the living room in front of the computer tuned to Facebook Live.

Half the pews taped off; everyone spread out; everyone in a mask; individually-wrapped communion elements, like the silverware at a 50’s coffee shop, “sanitized for your protection.”

But it’s real presence, for all that.

The smiles behind the masks are more substantial than emojis. The friendly questions [“How are you? How’s your Loved One?”] and the encouraging answers [“Not too bad. Much better – turned the corner, we think.”] sound better in people’s actual voices than they do as typing in the comments section: more human, more alive, more immediate.

“Air hugs” are still not hugs, but they are closer to hugs, full stop, in person than they are by text.

To say nothing of the fully three-dimensional sensory experience of sitting in that particular room, in that particular space, with those particular other people, at that particular moment, sharing those particular activities of gathering and sending, of prayer and praise, of great thanksgiving and communion.

Present. Really.
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