Why It Feels So Disappointing to Sing to the Lord a Remote Song

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Lessons from a year without corporate worship.

One year ago, my husband and I were still learning how to get out the door on Sunday morning for church with a two-year-old and a five-month-old during the coldest weeks of the Iowa winter. Now, like so many others, we enjoy slower Sunday mornings “attending” church over Zoom, usually sitting on the couch or floor with our restless toddlers.

I sometimes enjoy the conveniences of our new Sunday morning routine, but there are pangs of sadness every week when my daughter hears music, turns to the screen, and almost immediately loses interest. I recall how engaged she was in the sounds, sights, and vibrations of congregational worship during the “before times.” I recall how much more engaged I was, too.

“Worship isn’t about you” is a cliché that sums up the idea that we sing as an act of worship and sacrifice for God alone. I’ve seen this sentiment newly animated over the past year as worship leaders seek to help their congregations learn to worship as part of a body that they can’t hear or see.

Brooke Ligertwood writes in a blog post for Hillsong, “Who is worship for? Spoiler alert: worship is not for people. It’s for the Lord.” Similarly, Justin Rizzo of International House of Prayer tells worship leaders, “God alone will be present at your worship times. You will have no choice but to actually minister before an audience of one . That one alone is worthy of your worship. Worship has always been about Him.”

It’s understandable that worship leaders would encourage us to focus on God over gathering at a time when we cannot be together. The emphasis on a personal form of worship—one on one with God—is in some ways beneficial …

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