It used to be if you had to miss church that was it! The most you could have was a little stamp or signature on your "League of Church Loyalty" card from the holiday church that you inevitably attended. Not going to church simply wasn't an option.
The cartoon from Parish Pump appealed to me.
Now...you can receive the Sunday Notice Sheet by e-mail and I send off a dozen or more on a Saturday evening (usually) so that people who can't get to the services, or who are interested in what goes on in Saint Nicholas', can keep up to date. Anyone can ask for that through the parish web site, though we've had some technical difficulties and it isn't fully operational just yet.
Some of my colleagues post sermons on their blogs - I've done it just once so far...but you never know...maybe that will be added to the online activities in the new season. They are written on computer anyhow so it wouldn't take much effort to add them!
As for Twitter and Facebook - they too have their place in the modern world. So far they are largely for keeping in touch with friends, advertising local events and boasting about my dog Eliot! He is a handsome chap. He's also totally spoiled and devoted to me, and he's at my feet as I finish this off in the hope that there'll be a bit of a walk later.
This morning he posed for a few photographs in the overgrown back garden, lying in clover! It's funny what a camera angle can do...the garden isn't a fraction of the size that this picture seems to make it appear.
"Life is different now" began as I was thinking about church attendance. There are still many for whom it is important to be in the fellowship of other Christians at least on a Sunday, if not on other occasions too. But for others it has become an option, among many, that demand attention. The body of Christ suffers when "limbs" are missing. Everyone is a part of the whole and if a person isn't in his/her place then the group suffers.
I wonder if the individual's sense of importance has been lost in a society that thinks of people in numbers and bar codes; so it seems not to matter if you are present or not? And more than that - how do believers grow in faith if they are not being fed regularly from Biblical teaching? There is the knowledge that church is there for the emergencies and the rites of passage...but what about the journey through the ordinary days? To keep our faith energetic, and our relationship with God growing ever deeper, we need the fellowship of others. And let's not forget the responsibility we have towards one another - when each one is asked to help carry the other's burdens! If we're not part of the group then how can we fulfil that obligation?
It isn't enough to know what is happening around the church, or even to read the sermon online, or to feel part of a "Virtual Church" - we need the real contact with our brothers and sisters where we learn to love, to be tolerant, to forgive, to accept love and all the other benefits of belonging to a great big messy family! In this way - life is no different now!