I remember when the internet was this new ‘thing.’ No one was quite sure what to make of it. I can’t fully remember how it was “marketed” initially, but I recall that there were few things you could search for, in the beginning– some recipes, some business listings– it was pretty boring. But, before you knew it, this strange new tool seemed to explode with websites and information. Eventually, these funny things called “chat rooms” appeared on the scene, where you could discuss cooking or hobbies or news-of-the-day with total strangers halfway around the world! I was amazed. Suddenly, the entire globe started to feel smaller, more accessible. As the internet grew and grew I was more and more fascinated with the seemingly limitless technology at my fingertips! I could research information about history and science in an instant. I could watch videos on culture and goofy cats. And, the first time I used Google Earth to look up a location like the Great Pyramids of Egypt and watched as the Earth on the screen spun and I seemed to descend downward towards the surface, rapidly approaching my destination like a rocket crashing in from orbit, until eventually I was looking at recent actual satellite images of the pyramids– it was as if I had seen the Hubble Telescope images for the first time.
Fast forward more years than I care to think about, and I have greatly taken the internet and technology for granted– using it everyday of my life in some capacity. All of the apps and information at my fingertips seem more my right than my privilege. Can you imagine lugging around street maps or, God forbid, stopping in a gas station to ask for directions? Can you imagine waiting for weeks for packages to be delivered, instead of the precious Prime 2-days?
Suddenly, the stable structure of my daily life, which I rarely think about in totality, is turned upside down. Shelter-in-place means the technology of ordering groceries online or setting up virtual meetings in cyberspace becomes a necessity not just one of many regular options for ‘fun.’ I no longer take the internet for granted these days. The world feels smaller again, more accessible, as I consciously consent to allow the outside world into my home. My church, my spiritual family, must visit me while I sit at my dining table instead of my pew. Recordings of sacred music transform my private space into a sanctuary of sorts. And so, Holy Week takes shape in 2020.
I just finished a beautiful, virtual, Maundy Thursday experience where we gathered via Zoom and shared an agape-style meal, prayed together, shared scripture together, fellowshipped together. It is an entirely different Holy Week. Like my Jewish family, who celebrated a virtual Passover Seder, we are asked– expected– to participate in ancient liturgies from a place we’ve never been before. Suddenly, familiar journeys seem strange and unusual, and everything feels, somehow– new. I find myself moving beyond my rekindled gratitude for the technology that allows us to stay ‘connected’ during all of this, and into an unknown space where I hear the words of these stories, the prayers of these nights, in a totally new way.
What a strange gift to be so shaken out of my comfort zone that these precious moments– this ‘Holy’ week, takes on a new life and makes new demands of us. Whether you join online worship experiences this week or you simply find a quiet time and space to pray, we are all still on this journey together and God is revealing God’s self to us in every moment and in every place. May we be a people transformed by this experience, more conscious of the ties that bind us together– virtual or otherwise, and when we eventually emerge from our tombs, may resurrection be truly felt throughout creation.