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The First “Socially Distant” Church Services – How Was It For You?

By ALESHA CADET

Tribune Features Reports

acadet@tribunemedia.net

Many Bahamians experienced their first socially distant church service this past Sunday. And while it may have been strange to worship without the presence of fellow members, the connection to God was still the same.

Roman Catholic Church member Jessica Rolle told Tribune Religion that her mother woke everyone up early on Sunday as she usually does, to remind them of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Nassau’s live church service that was to be streamed on Facebook and on YouTube.

“She reminded us all on WhatsApp that no matter how we spent our Saturday night, Sunday was to be spent reflecting on God and His works. So together as a family, we all tuned in live,” she said.

What stuck most with Jessica from this service was the responsorial psalm, which last Sunday was psalm 23. Jessica said more now than ever, the psalm is uplifting; to know that even though the world is facing a crisis, people always know that the Lord guides us all to the right paths.

In the service, Archbishop Patrick Pinder said: “ The circumstances of our world today lead us to reflect on today’s responsorial psalm. It is the most familiar, and perhaps best loved of the psalms, and one of the best known passages of sacred scripture. In this time of danger, uncertainty and fear, this psalm is most fitting for us. It brings us that word of comfort and assurance we so desperately need right now. Even though I walk through the dark valley, I fear no evil. For you at my side with your rod and your staff that gives me courage.

The psalm says beloved we can be confident of the Lord’s protection, as we face the dark valley which is COVID-19, we do so responsibly and sensibly; confident of the Lord’s protective presence. This is the time to take all of the proper safety precautions and the protections as the proper health authorities advise us. It is also a time for us to look out for each other, especially the most vulnerable among us; the old and the very young. This is also a time to pray; let us pray for global leaders, our own national leaders; our Governor General, prime minister, minister of health and the entire cabinet. We should pray especially for our health care providers, our physicians and nurses and all those who are at the front line in the response to this pandemic.”

Betty Turnquest said this past Sunday she felt as though she had the opportunity to be a few places at the once; tuning into various local churches as they performed services on a digital platform.

“I missed getting ready to physically go out and praise God, but I hope this also teaches people that praise can be performed anywhere; it is deep within us at all time. Even before this, sometimes I found myself in praise sessions at work in the restroom, while driving my car, anywhere I want it to happen. That is how powerful our God is. But one of the services I tuned into was Neil Ellis’ live service at Mount Tabor. What stood out to me most was his reflection on the Lord’s prayer. It was so powerful and much needed. I had everyone tuned in,” said Ms Turnquest.

Bishop Neil Ellis, senior pastor of Mount Tabor Church, opened his remarks noting that this wasn’t the kind of service his congregation is accustomed to, but God will be glorified whenever they have the opportunity to do so.

“From the beginning of this year we have been dissecting what many of us have come to know as the Lord’s prayer, and we have concluded that this prayer that Jesus taught his disciples and by extension, us, is a framework, a model, and guide for praying,” he said during the service.

“When we pray, my friends, we ought to pray knowing that our prayers will be answered. Not because of who we are, but because who God is. He is our father, and we are his children. He is our father who lives in heaven, which gives him a vantage point that is greater than ours. Consequently there is nothing going on in my life and in your life, that God does not know about. That is good news. Especially today, as people are in a state of panic, fear and uncertainty because of COVID-19. I want you to know that wherever you are today, there is nothing going on in your life that God does not know about. And so that is why everyday of our lives, we ought to hallow his name because his name always reveals something about his nature.”

Judith Dorsett tuned into Pastor Matthew Sweeting of the New Providence Community Church’s online service, and remembers his words of not letting go of each other during this time.

“He quoted Romans 12.5 that says we belong to each other, and each needs all the others. And just like it would have touched me in the four walls of the church, it touched me while sitting on my couch in my home. The message is always the most important. I am happy so many pastors did this for us believers this past Sunday. I thank them all for it, because like Pastor Matthew said, we need each other right now,” she said.

Pastor Sweeting also preached: “As we come together in the days and weeks ahead, because we are going to come together, we are going to unite in love, service, and we are going to get through this. As we come to terms, all of us, of what we are now calling our new normal. I challenge you this morning in your personal lives, your jobs this week, with your families, let’s see this moment as an opportunity to reimagine our future. If you are watching the news every day, you are seeing so many amazing things going on around our planet right now. Families are being reunited, nature is being reclaimed, people are polluting less. It is interesting that you have to go home for the planet to do well. I also say this morning, let’s collectively evolve. This is an amazing opportunity that God has given us to take this opportunity and to come out on the back end a few months from now far better. From our church to yours, we are going to get through this because God has always been faithful.”

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