Praise in Boxes
This blog post was written by Lynda Rolph, Christ Church Bangkok member who's part of the choir.
How did you feel when you heard that Christ Church and all other churches would not meet in the church building for worship during lockdown?
For Christ Church choir members, the suggestion was made to zoom together for praise and prayer. It seemed a good idea, but how would it really work? Who would show up to sing? What would “choir” through the little boxes on the zoom gallery be like?
With the attitude of “if we don’t try, we won’t know,” we clicked the link. We waited. It was strange that first time to see the faces of people we usually stand next to – but who we never actually see singing. We needed time to become familiar with muting and unmuting, joining with video and sound. We had to get to know each other in a new way to feel comfortable talking with each other online – since on a regular Sunday (pre-COVID), we only have time to practice the words and tunes then pray quickly together before the service begins.
We soon discovered that we would not be able to sing at the same time while listening to each other singing, since our different bandwidth speeds resulted in a chaotic, mismatched combination of voices. If we muted microphones, keeping the keyboard player live, we could still sing from our own homes, encouraged by seeing each other doing the same.
It felt strange at first, and then something amazing happened. Those little boxes on our screen stopped being frames that contained us. Instead they became like gifts waiting to be opened, opened as each singer felt comfortable to contribute and share. Suddenly, we gained an insight into what each person was thinking when we stand in front of the congregation supporting worship. We learned how each of us has been influenced by past churches, our growing up years, and the former occasions when we have sung these hymns – both at Christ Church and around the world. We shared about how singing certain hymns hold special meaning, and the impacts these words and music have had on our faith journeys.
Over the past weeks in lockdown, we have celebrated and expressed gratitude for the hymn writers through the centuries, marveling that someone living in the 18th century could possibly express God’s love in a way that spoke to us today. And we felt a powerful connection with Christians through the ages who have worshipped with the same words and melodies that we are singing in the 21 st century zoom boxes.
What powerful connections.
Our favourite songs of praise are not restricted to the most well-known hymns either. We are exploring a variety of different songs that we do not normally sing “in church,” enjoying the powerful messages in the newest, most contemporary Christian music. We take time to pray together – unhurried prayer as there is no congregation waiting for the Sunday 10am service to begin. We have shared favourite Bible verses and taken time to get to know a little bit more about the people we have sat alongside week by week.
What a blessing to connect and worship weekly like this. In the physical world, we could not manage having the same people together every week, as work commitments and travel always interrupt the continuity. During this lockdown, we have met consistently from all over Bangkok, from Chiang Mai, and with past choir singers joining from Australia and Singapore.
Several weeks on, we are now pros at handling the technology! There is a new confidence when contributing about the way the hymns encourage us and help us to focus on God’s love. We have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit ministering through this music, enabling us to rejoice and worship as we sing new songs to the Lord.