With Singapore moving into Phase 2 (Enhanced Measures) from 16 May to 13 June 2021, Hermon will be moving our services fully online from 23 May to 13 June. This means that each Sunday, all of us can connect online to the service via YouTube, Facebook and our website www.hermon.org.sg. I trust that this transition will be less painful than the similar one we did in April 2020. Our worship ministry team will be conducting this live-streamed service from Jerusalem Sanctuary each Sunday.
As we prepare to attend services online, may we take the opportunity to remind ourselves of a few things that we can do to ensure a meaningful time of worshipping God through our praises and prayers.
Be it in-person or online, let us set our minds on things above. Let us set aside time each Sunday to attend the corporate gathering of God’s people. And for Hermonites, this means 11am on Sunday. With schools and workplaces moving to full work-from-home mode, it is easy for us to lose track of the rhythm of the week. So, it is needful that we set a routine of blocking the time between 10am to 1pm each Sunday for the service.
This intentionality becomes more challenging when we are attending services online. This is because we feel that there is no need for much preparation time and this will give rise to the tendency to pack the hour between 10am and 11am with other activities. The unfortunate result for some of us is that these activities can become a habit and these habits can even stretch beyond the hour, thus inadvertently causing us to be late for the online service.
So let us determine that because we do not have to travel to church, the time saved will be channelled to reading the Hermon Herald for the family news updates, and reading the sermon text for the day in preparation for the sermon. This is an effective use of the time we now have because services are online.
Let us view it as the Lord providing us ample preparation time to give Him the praise and adoration that is due to His name.
We all know that at times, what we do or think in secret would make us uncomfortable if it was made public. It could generally include things which we feel are not acceptable socially and even morally.
In these next four weeks, we will have the challenge of ensuring that our attitudes towards Sunday Services are right before God. And we will not be able to receive the external encouragement and exhortation of fellow Hermonites, since we are all attending from the comforts of our own homes. No one knows if we are still in bed when we watch the service. No one knows if we only participate in certain segments of the service. Yet, we believe that God is all knowing and everywhere. Thus, He sees our heart and knows our attitude even in the privacy of our own homes.
May we then cultivate the proper attitude of reverence for God by getting out of our sleepwear and grooming ourselves to be presentable. If we are able to prepare ourselves to be presentable for school and the office, we should do no less for Sunday Service. Since it is considered rude and disrespectful to our colleagues if we appear unkempt for online meetings, what does our unkempt attire and lack of grooming reveal about our attitude of reverence before God?
As our head acknowledges that we need to prepare for service at 11am, may our heart be led to exhibit an attitude of reverence by making ourselves presentable for service.
In Singapore we are a pragmatic lot. We ensure that our convictions are then carried out through very practical means. What does it take to make participating in Sunday Services online meaningful? I suggest it starts with the ability to participate fully in the service and thus the need to take away distractions.
I’ve found that distractions are kept at bay when the biggest screen available in the home is used. The most appropriate is often that of the TV set in the living room. Though mobile phones and laptops are very convenient, they allow us to toggle between screens, and since we all have enabled the real-time notification feature, pop-ups distract. These distractions are minimised when we participate via our TV screens. And because our TV screen is likely the biggest screen at home, it will inevitably help us to focus.
Finally, if possible (and within safety guidelines), we can also extend a helping hand to fellow Hermonites who may not be able to participate online. If we know of those who have difficulty with technology, let us invite them to participate online with us in our homes. Participating with others surely will make the online service more meaningful.
Fellow Hermonites, through these next four Sundays, may we realise afresh the preciousness of relational discipleship and how we can make our online participation most conducive. This so that as a family of God in Hermon, our sacrifice of praise may be a sweet, fragrant offering, acceptable in God’s sight.
– Ps Daniel Tan