Over the past six months we’ve all had to get used to a different lifestyle - a lifestyle that is actually being called the ‘new normal’. But nothing about it feels normal, does it?
We reminisce about life ‘pre-covid’, when it was completely natural to go in and out of people’s houses as we pleased, to endure being packed like sardines on public transport, and to make plane journeys to any destination across the world - and all without having to wear a face covering!
For Christians, the factors that have been especially hard to get used to during lockdown are the enforced separation from our brothers and sisters in Christ, and the very different way in which we have been ‘doing church’.
During these months, online church has become, for me, an essential part of my week. It has been a significant means of keeping me connected to, and united with my Cornerstone family; and, of course, it has given me the precious opportunity of regularly exploring God’s word.
It was especially important to me as an anchor in the chaotic sea of those early days of lockdown, when we had lost all sense of routine. Every Sunday morning, 10.30am would find me, without fail, on the couch with my family, tuning into the Cornerstone weekly service.
As soon as the opening video started playing, our family watched eagerly, looking out for the familiar faces of the people we were missing. It was especially good to sing along with the worship team as they creatively brought familiar, loved songs to us; and the ‘carpool karaoke’ kids song soon became a highlight! To see those kids get involved was pure joy.
At the peak of lockdown, the ‘Lessons in Lockdown’ sermon series was particularly helpful, in taking us through the book of Philippians. We were reminded in these talks that Paul was in chains for proclaiming the gospel, and even though our ‘lockdown’ experience was very different from that of Paul, his response to imprisonment was a great reminder to us to be joyful in our situation and to use it to advance the gospel.
In the evenings, we would gather again in the living room for ‘Cornerstone Family Matters’. This was definitely a highlight, as each week we waited to see which family would be talking to us from their living room. It was so lovely to see their faces appear on the screen and to gain a glimpse into their lockdown life. It was wonderful to see the children and to observe how much they had grown in such a short time. And it was a special bonus to learn that there will be some new additions to the Cornerstone family!
Online church has been a faithful testament to the gospel values of Cornerstone and a reflection of the gifts within our congregation. We have been truly blessed by the skills of the preachers and worship team. Performing to a camera week after week cannot be an easy task.
And, of course, without the combined skills of the media team, none of the services would have happened.
But, at long last, we can now start meeting together again, albeit in smaller numbers.
And - with a live-streamed sermon!
This fills me with immense relief and eager anticipation.
As we’ve learnt recently, from the book of Haggai, now is the time to continue faithfully building the church.
By Abigail Dryden
Abigail is studying midwifery at Kingston University and enjoys writing when she has the time.