Virtual lives

In his first blog, Peter Pay, who was inducted as a Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly on 11 July, reflects on how much of our lives now takes place digitally, but how God’s remains ever present.

Much of my life seems to have become virtual. Two years ago, I watched my election as Moderator at General Assembly virtually whilst in hospital. Then, on 11 July the URC held its first digital General Assembly and I was inducted virtually as Moderator of the URC General Assembly. I have a five-month-old grandson who I have only met virtually. I go to virtual meetings and councils, virtual worship and virtual family get-togethers and celebrations. I shop virtually, manage my finances virtually and do my giving virtually. I have doctor’s appointments virtually. I could even do cooking virtually using delivery services if I wished.

There are some pluses: we can join meetings and go to worship anywhere without having to travel, which benefits the environment; we can link up with folk who we would struggle to see physically; information and news are easily accessible and instant, and correspondence is also potentially much easier and quicker.

But what we all miss most is the physical, face to face contact. We miss the informal chats, the body language, the handshakes the hugs. We miss the physical care. We miss being and singing together. We miss social and cultural events and activities.

This all causes me to reflect on my relationship with God. In many respects this could also be described as virtual as I have never physically met Him, although I have frequently felt his presence. Yet, I know that my relationship with the Lord is far from limited despite this. He is always accessible. His presence, His guidance is very real. In my prayers I can always “have a chat”. He is always there. His Spirit is still present at our virtual meetings and certainly at our virtual worship in the same way as before.

Some of you may find the present restrictions difficult. You may long to “get back to normal”, although perhaps not the old “normal”. I certainly long to be in a worshipping community again, singing praise to Him although I recognise that may take time. Yet whatever happens, I continue to hold that special virtual relationship with my Lord as something precious that will remain with me.

God bless you