There was some old joke about ‘labour’saving devices’… that you always ended up doing more work if someone thought you had time on your hands.
I don’t think it’s quite like that, to have moved from a physically travelling preacher to a digital one: the hours and energy demanded are actually quite similar, even if the front-end minutes (on-screen) may seem less. Even more than when I’m making what may be my only possible visit to your community in five years, every minute is an opportunity, every second of precious attention-span needs to be justified. This Sunday’s “sermon on wheels” is eight minutes, but started with an already whittled-down script and more than half an hour of footage. The ratio for the reflection with which the AGM will begin is somewhat more extreme.
Setting perfectionism in perspective: a good “view” is worthwhile, even if we don’t hold the viewer to the end because the phone rings, or the cat throws up.
Mind you, cats are BIG participants in online meetings!
Then , having reached that stage, there is a “Twitter edition”, brutally cut down to 2 mins 20 seconds.
Online meetings are also a swings and roundabouts thing: they are deceptively draining because they demand more focussed attention, but you can attend, because you do so from home.
And the AGM and Gathering will be a pioneer large ecumenical meeting for the churches of Scotland . As my colleagues said at a recent meeting “no pressure” – but this will be in an atmosphere of peace and encouragement, rather than haughty entitlement. Because this is what I have generally been delighted to discover with the movement. Most of us know that all of us are doing our best. Compassion, commitment, and a yearning for justice are powerful environmental values.
Some things are actually better: the staff group have spent much more time ‘together’, encouraging and talking about projects. The networks are coming into their own as seldom before, thanks to the energetic initiative of Judith, our programme co-ordinator. No need to mention the carbon footprint implications of being at home. And its’ great to breathe fresher air, and hear the birds sing, who are usually drowned out by traffic where I live.
And I’ve ‘got to church’ at my local congregation ,much more often than expected, and with my family. Which impresses upon me both the need to support the online and other efforts of local churches, and for the chaplaincy to continue to offer something special, distinctive, and in addition to the ‘regular’ things in which people are now gaining a degree of confidence.
May we help to add to that, and the assertive visibility of our movement, through lockdown and beyond, to the Grace of God!