Monday, September 1, 2008


A few months ago, Emily and I were debating the pros and cons of an online church with Myles. Myles thought a web-based service could be a good way to get people involved who could not or did not want to go to church. I agreed that it could be good for people who could not physically go, but otherwise I was skeptical. Emily and I agreed that Jesus's words were "when two or three are gathered," and being part of a physical gathering is how we read that verse.

I started thinking about gathering again yesterday after meeting. I try not to miss silent worship on Sundays if I can help it. I didn't always feel the need to be there every week. During law school, I was doing pretty well if I made it once or twice a month. But now that I have more time, I feel like I have lost something if I don't get to sit with others in worship, even if the meeting is completely silent.

Beyond just being in a room with others, I am starting to feel like actually sitting next to another person is important for me. Since I started attending University Friends Meeting, I haven't usually sat next to anyone. I think I started sitting alone mostly because I didn't know anyone. I also have an overdeveloped desire for symmetry, so I have gravitated toward a section of the room that usually has fewer people in it, trying to fill up the space. And even though I usually close my eyes, I find others distracting when I am trying to center.

Of course, when a friend of mine comes to visit the meeting, I sit next to her. And I have noticed an alarming trend: three times when I have had a friend sitting next to me, I have felt led to share vocal ministry. I am not sure what to make of this. It seems counterintuitive to me―I would expect to be less talkative when a friend is watching, it feels like there is more at stake somehow. But I think having someone there who cares gives me the support I need to stand, and I am grateful that my friends have been there for me.

Yesterday, I felt led to sit next to a Friend who also often sits alone. I was a little nervous because I didn't want to impose and I also didn't want to have to speak, but I think she was pleased to have me there. And about halfway through the meeting, the Friend next to me rose to speak. Then I got to sit next to her as she shared her message, supporting her and holding her in the Light.

Today, I looked up the verse about two or three gathering, and I love the translation in The Message translation of the Bible of this passage as well: "
When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I'll be there." Matthew 18:20.

1 comment:

  1. Ashley,
    I have thought about this a lot, as there was and possibly still is an online meeting based in UK. I think God is less limited by time, space, location, and many things than we are. I think it is important to sit with real people in a physical location, but I also think that when that is not possible for folks, online gathering can be better than no gathering. I also used to supplement my weekly worship with online worship.

    When I had a near-death experience, I experienced being present with everyone I loved-- not limited my geography, time or space. This is how I think God experiences creation, I could be wrong, but it blesses me to think so. I do think it really is more about our heart, and intention, than anything else. Blessings on you.


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