So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia. The temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.
- Ezra 6:14-15
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
- 2 Timothy 4:1-5
It is absolutely amazing that when I searched for holographic preachers in the Bible, I came up with nothing, even checking several translations. Not even the modern language paraphrases!! I am just kidding. I looked up “preach.” I would find it hard for a hologram to “correct, rebuke, and encourage.”
What brings this up? These days, the churches that have not folded (maybe not all) and put their property up for sale have gone to livestreaming their services. Some churches are rebelling against the laws of the state. Other churches are in limited attendance. And seemingly every church is having troubles financially.
Yet, I was driving to church about a week ago. My wife and I were going to try to attend and if we had medical issues, we had canes that could be weaponized if the ushers tried to force us to stay in our pew. Actually, we found that the rules were so relaxed, still in place but the ushers did not bother doing anything once we were confirmed as not having a temperature. We had to seat ourselves, and when the service was over, everyone got up, hugging one another. But we had a new pastor, his first Sunday, and he refused to shake anyone’s hand – fist bumps were acceptable.
But back to the drive toward church. I was reminded of a church, I think in Texas, that had a few campuses. This was many, many years ago, when holograms were something new. They were rather wealthy, so that set up a holographic laser system. The pastor could preach live at one campus and his three-dimensional image could appear, walking around on the empty stage at the other campus.
We attended a multiple campus church in the Memphis, TN area a couple of years ago. Picture it. You are in a huge auditorium watching a movie screen and the pastor is somewhere else, or maybe recorded the sermon months ago and he’s on vacation without anyone knowing. There is a disconnect. I thought at the time that we could have stayed home and watched a television evangelist instead.
But with the image being a 3-D hologram, it would look a little more like it was live, but … No.
When Jesus established the Last Supper as a sacrament – “do this in remembrance…”, He established a physical connection. We cannot eat a hologram of bread and wine. A hologram is an image created by lasers. It is not flesh and blood. During the lockdown, I loved the Max Lucado Sunday morning sermonettes. In only fifteen minutes, you got a teaching point to ponder; you got prayer; you got a song usually by some recording artist; and you got communion. With my diet, I used a corn-based breakfast cereal for the bread and some sparkling water for the wine, but we physically had communion together, just nearly 2,000 miles apart.
So, what is worse? Is it worse to not be together when we worship over our televisions and computer screens? Or is it worse to not have a preacher behind the pulpit, but a hologram instead?
To answer, answer a different question. Who is worshipping God? Is it the pastor and the congregation is the audience? Or is the pastor giving us something to ponder and it is the congregation that is worshipping? I have been taught that we all worship God during the worship service. I think that the congregation gets more out of being together. It will be a wonderful day when we can remove the masks and see each other’s faces.
Yet, when I think of a church paying untold massive amounts of money for hologram projectors, in the infancy of the technology, you wonder how many of the poor could be fed with what they spent. And even with a 3-D image, there would be a disconnect.
I wonder if the temple would have ever been built if Haggai and Zechariah had simply phoned in their sermons or if the people had watched the sermon over their cellphones.
There is nothing that beats being there.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.