In a recent Christian Science Monitor article called “Virtual Sunday School: Where faith endures during Lockdown”, Rachel Lambourne of Fremont, CA, responds to a question about how having church at home works for her and her young family during this age of COVID.
Rachel says, “I think the peace that we generally feel when we are together, when we are praying together – that peace is the only thing that can really transcend all of the worry and confusion.”
Sister Lambourne is a bright, creative, talented Latter-day Saint with four children and a fine husband. (Full disclosure: she is also my niece.) Her family adapts to church at home by inviting the children to pick songs and give talks.
People from other faith traditions in the CSM article mention the added challenge of now being responsible for the religious education of their children. With the Church of Jesus Christ’s pre-COVID push for “home centered/Church supported” religious education, many of us feel like we are now (and pretty much always have been) the primary providers of spiritual nourishment for our children as well as for ourselves. The Church provides community, service opportunities, leadership and stewardships. That is still the case, but the community is much more “virtual”, and we’ve become prayerfully creative during this odd time we’re in.
I’m curious to know how adapting to home church is working for my sister saints during this tense time.
I hope everyone recognizes it as a tense time and hasn’t just blown it off as some wacko conspiracy. Seriously, folks. Follow the science.
And when I say “for my sister saints”, I’m aware that there is something off about sisters who live alone not being able to participate in the sacrament in a “traditional” way. I hope that we will have worked the bugs out of that system long before the next pandemic comes around.
So what have you been doing? What have you tried that works well? What doesn’t work as well? What new insights do you have? Do you feel more involved in the spiritual education of your family or has it stayed pretty much the same?
Here’s how we’ve been handling it.
My shelter-in-place time has added more people to my “germ posse” here in our house. Usually it is just my work-from-home husband and me knocking around the place. We now have 6 other loved ones here – one of my sons, his wife, their two little boys ( a 3-year-old and a 4-month-old. The little guy has lived half his life now with us in stay-at-home sequester.). We also host my daughter-in-law’s parents with whom we get along splendidly. While of course there is some strain on all of us (not the least of these being the open-ended-ness of this situation), we’ve become an “all hands on deck” team and frankly have enjoyed ourselves beyond reason. I feel a little sheepish about how good it has been.
How we handle the Sabbath and the sacrament is a bit complex because of the three congregations we are part of.
My son’s in-laws tune into the live-streamed broadcast from their Presbyterian church in another state.
My son is the Elders’ Quorum President of their family’s urban ward in DC. He’s on a variety of calls and videos starting early because of the two hour time zone difference between DC and our place in Utah. My daughter-in-law is in that same ward’s Primary Presidency and has online meetings during the week with the rest of the leadership and helps create videos for the ward’s children. Their broadcasts happen in a different part of the house while we’re involved with our own, so I have no idea how they involve their adorable tots into Gospel learning. They do however have lively (and short) family nights with us all where the 3 year old is still able to call most of the shots. Wait ‘til his brother gets a little older. Will we still be doing home church by the time the infant can walk?!
My husband and I have hosted a Gospel Study with ward members and friends tied to “Come Follow Me” every 3rd Sunday since last Summer, and we continue it by zoom these days. We also tune in on Sundays to the live Dialogue Gospel Study podcasts. Last Sunday’s featured Fiona Givens’ take on Mosiah 18. These podcasts are recorded so you can tune in to view and hear the whole series so far if you like. They’re free. They’re meaty and to me spiritually satisfying.
Taking the sacrament with my husband remains sacred and intimate. Transcendent even. I wrote about it here at Segullah.
I hope you’ll share what has worked well as you continue to navigate home-church – and even what hasn’t since those are often the most instructive lessons. Do you take the sacrament all together? Do you have a more fleshed out “program” with talks and musical performances? Do you meet in your jammies or get dressed up? Do you worry about whether you are “doing it right”? Do you appreciate the leeway given by the Church’s pre-pandemic emphasis on home centered spiritual learning? Are you discovering new things you’d like to continue even after our wards meet face to face again?
If you live alone, what has your experience been? Has your load been lightened? Made heavier? If so, how can we help?
Everyone, please stay safe and well. If you are ill, we’ll offer up prayers on your behalf even if you want to remain anonymous.
Whether healthy or not, try my niece’s suggestion of praying together as a family and see if you, too, find it transcends all the worry and confusion of our troubled times. My guess is that works for folks who live alone, too.
Here are some bolstering words from Luke 12:32:
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”