It was a year ago today that we began offering an online service of Compline every weeknight at 8. When it became clear that we were going to have to suspend in-person worship for a while Compline seemed a good way to both provide prayers for the difficult times we were (and still are) in and have people come together virtually.
I wondered if anyone would participate. That was answered pretty quickly. That first service on March 18, 2020 had an added twist. Our cat Maisie, aka the Devil Cat, hopped up on the dining room table/altar mid-service and attacked my arm. Joseph Henry had to step in and pry her off of me. The video of that service went viral, getting 5,200 views.
No other service has come close to that number of viewers, but to my surprise the numbers have remained strong throughout the past year. To have fewer than 30 is a “slow” night. Often we have 60 or 70, and sometimes more than 100. I think it is safe to say that Compline has met a need during this strange year, and that a community has formed around this simple service of prayers at the close of the day.
Since that first Compline a year ago we have had 258 evening services. We’ve missed twice — once when I got stuck in traffic coming back from Chattanooga and once when Facebook, without warning, changed the way to live stream. None of this could have happened without Joe, who has stepped in to lead services several times and has been the faithful congregation, reading the responses to the prayers so that you hear more than one voice. Joseph Henry has also been an enormous help, particularly with the technology, as well as being a participant when he’s home.
When we began last March I said we would do this until we were back to in-person worship in the church. I thought that might be as long as a month. No one could have predicted a year would pass. Now we do have a date to return to in-person worship, beginning on Easter Sunday. We will continue with evening services (Compline this week and next, then Stations of the Cross and Holy Week liturgies) until then. After Easter, online Compline will come to an end, but you can always open up your prayer book and continue doing the service at home.
Below are links to the first Compline with the attack from Maisie, and a clip from last night’s service, when our adolescent kitten Zooey displayed an uncanny sense of comedic timing. If you need a good laugh give them a look. And see you tonight at 8.
The beginning with Maisie https://www.facebook.com/104382762940662/videos/3049314255111679