Reasons Not To Live Stream Holy Worship5
You should know, Gentle Reader, that I have resisted writing on this subject for fear of scorching the ecclesiastical earth. But today I received an email from a company that sells and installs live streaming equipment in churches. The email is entitled: Top Three Reasons To Live Stream Worship.
When this pandemic invaded the earth in March of 2020 no one was prepared, least of all churches. In panic mode clerics did whatever they could to ensure that their people would continue to be fed with God's Word and Sacrament even if they would not come to God's House. Almost in unison pastors of all denominations settled on live streaming of Divine Worship.
At that time one could hardly blame them: the sky was falling.
But there were two things that deeply troubled me in March of 2020.
First that the Catholic Bishops closed all their churches tout suite. That they instantly caved leaving their children to heedlessly starve to death: which many did. The children cried for fish, and were given a serpent instead. They asked for an egg, and were given a scorpion. (Luke 11:11-12) The rest of the churches, largely, followed.
Secondly that the ecclesiastical world adopted video streaming with alacrity, and ordained it "very good". Never realizing that by so doing they have resurrected the ancient heresies of Docetism and Gnosticism.
I can give many good reasons not to attempt virtual worship of the Holy Trinity, here are two:
- Christian worship is incarnational and can be done no other way because, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full or grace and truth." (John 1:14)
- Holy Communion, which constitutes Christian worship, can only be done in person. Can only be conducted when the Bridegroom by his proxy feeds the Bride with his own hand; with the elements he has consecrated before her own eyes; and in her hearing; and now places into her own lips.
Docetism is an ancient heresy that says that Christ only "seemed" (dokeo) to be a true man, but was not. Today many mistakenly think that Christ is not bodily present in the Eucharistic assembly but only "seems" to be. That he is present only in our pious and collective imaginations and emotions. But that is not Christian theology or practice. Christ is bodily present in the Eucharistic assembly of the baptized by his Word and Sacrament. "Let all the earth keep silence." (Hab. 2:20)
To state the obvious the consecration of the elements cannot be done over the internet, each person having his own bread and wine, and hearing or reciting the words in his own living room. That is hocus pocus. Theological madness. Nor need we even talk here about matters of pastoral oversight, for until a basic understanding of incarnational worship is in place, nothing else matters.
The purveyor of live stream equipment and service thinks that video church will "deepen engagement". But there is no deeper engagement than for the baptized to commune bodily with Christ, and to hear his Word read and preached in the Lord's own House; by the Lord's own priest. As nuptial love cannot be "deepened" over the internet nor can communion with Christ.
As for safety be certain that there is a whole other set of facts than the commonly believed narrative about this virus. Here is one example. But more to the point let every Christian know that what is truly un-safe is to ignore the needs of your soul, or try to fill your spiritual stomach with virtual food. Jesus is the Great Physician who heals the sick and raises the dead. Better to chance illness and death at his glorious, nail-scarred feet than to distance yourself from him (and his people - this is truly deleterious).
As the hymn says: "Let us ever die with Jesus, his death from the Second Death." Or as St. Paul writes, "For thy sake we are being killed all the day long, we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. But in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (Rom. 8:36-37)
As regards winning the world for Christ through a multiplication of evangelical sermons and teachings online, think again. The rule of supply and demand applies: that a large supply lowers the price. Now "sermons" as the purveyor of live stream equipment says will be "seen and heard around the world." But the large supply, to say nothing of the questionable quality, content and presentation of every would be Jonah, will not convert Nineveh this time around.
And so hear the word of St. Paul O Pastors: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind ... "
Call your people home to God's House, which is the House of Prayer for all nations. (Isaiah 56:7)
Do your fear the wrath of those who are fearful? Do you fear a schism in your parish? It has already happened and can get no worse. Crank up your courage and be a pastor and live with whatever remnant remains. Only men of God are left in this nation to be true leaders of people. Everyone else has caved.