Seven Tips For Worshiping From Home

(Guest Post by Jodi Hubbard)

Last Sunday morning, I was met with the very strange feeling of homesickness, because of the very fact that I was at home. I know many of you feel the same way. It is heartbreaking for all us to be away from the church and each other, and praying in front of a screen feels like a last resort. However, the experience of worshiping remotely gave me the opportunity to remind myself about why we do things the way we do at church, and how we can continue these practices at home. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Set an alarm and watch live. It’s easy to forget what day it is without our usual structure and routines of the week. Set an alarm if you need help remembering so you don’t get distracted with other things around the house. Our videos will be available after the livestream, but try to watch live instead of catching up later if possible. If we cannot be worshiping in the same space, we can at least still worship at the same time. It is a small a simple thing we can do to help bring the the church, the body of Christ, a bit closer together.
  2. Dress up. We dress up for weddings, for professional events, for holidays, and other special occasions. Our Sunday worship is a special occasion whether we are at church or at home. And at home, we have the advantage that we do not need to worry about what other people think of our clothing or be caught up with our own vanity.
  3. Make a sacred space for worship. Our liturgy on Sundays is in many ways meant to be a recreation of the worship that is continuously happening in heaven. Through beautiful architecture, music, vestments, and poetic prayers we bring God our best, like the woman anointed Christ’s feet with the finest perfume. Our homes are extensions of the church where we pray and worship throughout the week. Try to find a place in your home where you can follow along with the Sunday service. Think of something you can do to make that space and time special, whether it be lighting a candle, incense, fresh flowers, etc. We lit a candle and used our dining room table because it was a good height to see the laptop and prayer book while sitting, standing, and kneeling.
  4. Sit, stand, and kneel. When I see a screen, whether a phone, laptop, tablet or television, my first association is entertainment. We need to be very deliberate not to treat our Sunday worship as entertainment. We are not watching a movie or TV show, or passively scrolling though social media. Worship is an action, a giving of glory to our Creator, a work of the people. If you are physically able, stand to sing, sit to listen, and kneel to pray.
  5. Sing and pray out loud. The Bible tells us that words have weight. God spoke, “Let there be …” and the world came into existence. John tells us that Jesus is the Word of God. Proverbs tells us that “Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue.” And so we sing and speak God’s praises out loud.
  6. Remove distractions. Turn off your phone’s ringer, turn off notifications, close other apps, windows, and tabs, and give God your full attention.
  7. Use your Prayer Book. Not only will this guide you through the responses and prayers we say together, but I found it is nice to have something physical to hold that I am used to holding in church. If you do not have a copy of the Prayer Book, you can find it online, but I would recommend printing out the pages for the Holy Communion if you are able, so you do not have to switch back and forth on your device during the service.

In summary, whatever you do when you worship at church, do the same at home. We are physical beings and all these physical practices allow us to pray with our bodies as well as our minds. Finally, please take this opportunity to remember, pray for, and reach out to those in our parish who are not physically able to be with us even when the building is open to the public, and who are experiencing an even greater degree of isolation during this time.

Worshiping God, keeping the Sabbath holy, is one of the most important things we do. Let us do our best to keep up these habits while we are separated, and by doing so we share that much more in common together.