So right now, you are thinking, after reading the title of this article, the question in your mind is, "What do you mean something is different preacher? Everything is different!" You know what? I think you are right about that. In a matter of four short weeks, nearly everything has changed.

Schools are closed, many for the rest of the year. Parents are assuming new roles as teachers of their children. Lessons provided virtually, AMI packets are handed out, completed, and exchanged for the next set of lessons. Teachers and administrators are re-educating themselves to provide education in a new format. Parents and students are learning new ways to interact with the school and learn more about each other in the process.

Two weeks ago, I waited for 20 minutes outside the local Wal-Mart to get into the store. After entering the store, I went to the former layaway department. There I waited in another line solely for the privilege of buying a package of toilet paper and a package of paper towels. After getting into the store, it is quite possible that much of the food and merchandise we took for granted four weeks ago is now in limited supply or maybe even impossible to obtain.

This week, Penny and I went into the store wearing masks. Think about that for a moment. Two weeks ago, wearing a mask into the Helena Wal-Mart would be enough to give you the privilege of showing you ID, having your pockets emptied, and all but insured having an up-close and personal conversation with a law enforcement officer. If you played your cards right, you might even a free ride down to station too.

On any given day of any given week, we would go to the store, buy what we needed, and often grumble about the cost, or the selection, or the poor customer service. We got our hair cut, we ate out, and we visited our family when we wanted. Doctor's appointments a trip to the pharmacy and time at the gym were routine occasions.

On Sunday, we got ready and attended Sunday School and church. We shook one another's hands, we exchanged hugs, and we shared fellowship at the table of the Lord. On any given Sunday, we could hear the choir special, hear our children pray, and maybe even hear a good sermon. Sermons were available online on an as-needed basis, just in case we were unable to attend or were not feeling well.

So much of our cultural landscape has changed that our current reality is nearly unrecognizable. What a difference one month makes. We have been worshipping in the virtual world for what feels like an eternity, but it has only been four weeks. We can still hear a decent sermon, but perhaps we feel like it lacks the energy or spontaneity that comes with the being together in the sanctuary.

There is a positive side to all of this. I found it two weeks ago when I mismanaged the camera equipment, and the recording that resulted was only the video, no audio at all, what an epic fail. You should have heard Sam howl when I broke the news that we were going to need to do the service…again. Desperate times require desperate measures. I had to use a Facebook Live Feed. There was no way to be sure if the equipment had malfunctioned or if it required repairs.

The good news was that our kids did not misbehave, and people did watch. After I figured out how to download the video from Facebook, I could upload it to YouTube and then post it to the website. What I discovered that Sunday is that 136 people watched the sermon live. Those people were from all over Phillips county, the state of Arkansas, and the country.

The truth is that anyone in the world with internet access and the desire to see can access our services. Quite literally, the world has become our parish. We are proclaiming the gospel, growing as disciples, and affecting people's lives for the better. One day in the future, we will gather on a Sunday, shake hands, hug, sing, pray, hear God's word, and feel the strength of God's Spirit. Until then, we will continue to follow Jesus in the way that leads to life. 

Pastor Kenny