The church exists specifically where the Word is, and where the Lord is thereby known, and thus where Divine truths are revealed. —NJHD 246
Recently I have been reflecting on what it means to remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy, especially in light of the drastically changed environment for worship. What are the important parts of worship that need to be retained in order for us successfully remember the Sabbath? Growing up I had a pretty narrow idea of what it meant to follow the third commandment, it was pretty simple, go to church! We had family worship growing up as well, but I never saw it as a replacement or substitute for church.
In more recent years many of our churches started streaming their services and for quite a while I was resistant to this change. I liked the reverent and peaceful sphere of our church and worried about the cameras, microphones and speakers becoming a distraction. Furthermore, I feared that people would enjoy the convenience of watching a church service from their house on a tv and stop attending the physical service. However, as I examined these doubts about changes, I realized how selfish and misplaced they were. Other people’s choice of how they worship and remember the Sabbath should be according to their understanding of the teachings.
I looked to the Heavenly Doctrines and the Word for some answers as to what worship is and found that it is much broader than the externals. “Worship in the internal sense means all conjunction by means of love and charity. A person is worshipping all the time if love and charity abide in him, external worship being only the outward expression of it.” (Arcana Coelestia 1618) Another passage directly addresses the narrow idea of worship I had as a child. “Anyone who thinks that serving the Lord consists solely in going to church regularly, listening to the preaching there, and saying his prayers, and that that is sufficient, is much mistaken. True worship of the Lord consists in performing useful services.” (Arcana Coelestia 7038). I think these are both important passages to consider what it means to truly worship and serve the Lord.
With the drastic changes made to church services due to the health crisis, I have been continually thankful for the advanced streaming capabilities and to have my family to worship with. I have greatly missed attending church physically and the sense of community it brings; but I have grown to really appreciate how reverent and humble the sphere of family worship can be. I feel blessed to have so much of my family near by to lean on during uncertain times. I believe that trusting in the Lord is the best way to maintain peace of mind and continue to remember the Sabbath.