By Nancy Unks
We all know what ‘virtual’ means. We do virtual meetings and virtual classes and virtual visits every day. Our many virtuals would not be possible without computers and the Internet. So I was surprised to run across a definition for the word in a pre-Internet dictionary that sounds very 21st century; it’s an adjective that designates “being in essence or effect but not in fact.”
As a 20-year New Lifer who recently moved five states away, I am thankful for the New Life Dresher virtual opportunities. Besides seeing and hearing live worship, I’m excited to participate in a Women’s Bible Study small group and homegroup. It is good to meet with others talking about the Lord, sharing scripture, and praying together. It’s good to share the grief and hope of Jacob’s passing, too. And I appreciate hearing about various ministries, decisions, and prayer needs through frequent emails and video blogs.
Praise God for preaching and teaching that does not ignore the realities of a pandemic, death and a divided world or gloss over them with feel-good platitudes. Instead it points us to Jesus and his very real death and resurrection. It points us to the ultimate reality of God’s eternity. It points us to Jesus with us in the present reality.
While I thank God for a church with the resources, talent, and technical know-how to move online, I realize that responsibility for virtual ministry lies with me also. I need to continue seeking it. I need to reach out to old friends. I need to take seriously the admonition of the writer of Hebrews in the New Testament. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day [of the Lord’s return] approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). It would be easier to just not bother.
My personal hope is that we will never get back to the old normal but continue to move forward in expanded ministry and make it a part of New Life every day. For me, it’s a lifeline in a very real sense, since I can’t even look for similar fellowship where I am because of coronavirus restrictions. For how many others of you, near and far, is that the case?
The fact is that virtual New Life Dresher is having an essential effect in the factual world! May that long continue to be true!