Intimacy and Proximity

Dear CTK, April 16, 2020

Confession: there has been an unexpected sense of intimacy for me in the “new norm” of live streaming and video chatting communication. 

For the last four Sundays we have done church online. I desperately wish I could see you all. I miss handshakes and hugs. Carlyn is the only person I really interact with on Sunday morning as he controls the computer and video streaming from his house 50 miles away. As I teach, I do my best to look into the little black lens, but I’m not looking anyone in the eye. 

On the other hand, there are some uniquely relational aspects to our new Sunday service. Music, while not ideal, has been oddly cool. Some of you have been sending in videos of music–songs you are willing to share with us. I literally tear up every time, watching people in our church family sitting in their living rooms offering up a piece of themselves in worship so we can all reflect on Jesus and his great love for us. 

The comments section of the livestream is a great interaction as well. I love seeing everyone welcoming each other and making comments before the “service” starts. I’ve actually been trying to brainstorm ways we can interact in real time during Sunday service when we are able to gather together again someday!

In a strange way I am also enjoying the teaching part. I watched part of the Colbert show the other day where Stephen Colbert was broadcasting his monologue from home. It was painful! I never realized how important it was for a speaker to be able to pause for laughter at jokes and play off the response of the audience. It was so awkward for him to deliver a great punchline followed by silence.

For some reason, though, I have actually appreciated the relaxed, conversational dynamics of teaching online. When I am teaching these days, I do not picture myself up on the stage speaking to a large group of people. Instead, I am imagining that I am sitting with you in your living room. It is somehow, ironically, closer and more friendly. I am so excited to get us all in the same room sooner than later. Even so, I’m wondering if the way I teach may change a bit moving forward. I want to keep that living room feeling if I can.

Every week I have video meetings I look forward to–staff meeting, book club, CTK pastors, meeting with local pastors and the mayor and my advisory council. I have never been a fan of video conferencing. Right now, though, it is THE way I get to see faces. Again, it has been an unexpectedly intimate and meaningful interaction for me. 

There is one question that keeps surfacing in my mind these days. As we slowly reemerge from the restrictions of this epidemic, what will we take with us? I am as eager to move on from this as anyone. I also think it would be tragic to put all this behind us and miss the chance to bring what we’ve learned about the need for community and connection we may not have realized we need so badly. 

I’m not sure what all those lessons and revelations will be, but I think it would be worth our time to consider. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to not seeing you on Sunday!



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