Virtual Liturgies can be Dangerous Too!

Most of us who teach liturgy like to explain how awesome liturgy is.  It’s not simply a case of fulfilling rubrics and saying words.  In fact we sometimes like to tell our students that liturgy can be “dangerous.” This is an attempt to break through the prejudices that some students have when they think that liturgy isn’t all that important as a theological discipline.

In these strange times, many of us are getting used to internet liturgies and many are asking if these virtual liturgies are true liturgy and we are arguing if a Mass celebrated in front of a webcam with only a “virtual” assembly “counts.”

However, this weekend we have some proof that aside from the question of whether these newly popular internet liturgies “count,” at least they are real enough to be dangerous!

Simon Beach, a Church of England priest of St. Budeaux Parish Church in Plymouth, England, was recording his first “virtual” service.  The 61 year old has not had a lot of experience with recording himself while preaching and was preaching with a backdrop of a cross and candles.  But he had to end his sermon early with the comment, “Oh dear; I’ve just caught fire.”

His sweater had caught fire from the candles in the backdrop.  Fortunately no harm was done and his fellow vicars have been teasing him with jokes about “being on fire for Jesus” and telling him that he “should have waited for Pentecost.”

Rev. Beach is a good example for us of how important it is to keep our sense of humour and not take ourselves too seriously as we face our new pastoral reality!

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