The start of the lockdown already seems like an age ago and we’ve all had to adapt quickly. Sam Perez reflects on his first experience of leading online worship and what it taught him about his calling and God’s faithfulness.
It seemed odd to return from holidays to what is the last term of this academic year. The Easter break was nothing like a vacation. The arrival of Covid-19 on British soil made it impossible for me and my family to travel and, in fact, we were kept on site at Westcott House for the entirety of the weeks prior to lockdown. In the middle of such uncertainty and chaos, we all became aware that there was a rapidly growing spiritual need everywhere.
Our Westcott family was increasingly disintegrating. Some of our sisters and brothers have left the premises to never come back as ordinands. The thought that many have gone without a proper goodbye has been painfully difficult for those who are staying. A couple of my Westcottian sisters felt the need to assist the wider Westcott family with our strongest weapon: prayer. We soon started live-streaming Evening Prayer services on Facebook. The response was vast, and not too long after, alumni decided to join forces and officiate with us. I am thankful to them all. They responded immediately with the utmost integrity and pastoral care.
My first live service was tough. I had been struggling with unhelpful thoughts the whole day: ‘Who do you think you are to do this? No one is going to join a live-streamed service on the internet. You’re dyslexic and this isn’t even your first language. You will mess it up!’… I grew scared about the situation.
As I was setting up the room for the service (admittedly some considerable time prior to the actual broadcasting), I looked at my small copy of the Westcott Chapel icon. I read the words running across the pages of the book in the Pantocrator’s hand: Ye have not chosen Me but I have chosen you. All of a sudden, I remembered that I was not here because I was fit for it, but because God was calling me to be faithful as he is faithful. Our motto, ‘the One who calls is faithful’ – 1 Thess. 5:24, tells us that in our frailty and fear, in our imperfections and sinful nature, God remains loving and he still wants to make us whole. I went to my bedroom, put my cassock on and, remembering these truths, I carried on. It was a beautiful experience that I will never forget.
That was the first of several live-streamed services for me. As I write this, the national lockdown in the UK continues to be implemented. I still miss my Westcott family and I miss praying in chapel with my brothers and sisters. But I know that all shall be well, because the One who calls us all is faithful and he does wonders with us when we say yes to that invitation.