Pentecost 22

Pentecost 22
My Psalm 22

June 29, 2014

Social Faith

Today is Social Media Sunday in the Episcopal Church of the USA. Parishes are encouraged to develop a social media presence, something along the lines of learning to speak the language of the people which, in today’s society, includes social media. On a more personal level, however, parishioners are being encouraged to tweet during the service, take a selfie in the pew, etc. The overall intent is to spread the good news of the gospel.

I haven’t a problem with Social Media Sunday and think any parish that has not already set up a website is really preparing to close their doors, not just for the night but forever. Whether you like computers or not isn’t important; they are here to stay. Obviously, if you are reading this, you have a computer or know someone who does. At the very least, you know how to operate a computer at your local library.

It should be just as obvious that so do I. I also have a twitter account and a FaceBook page. I would not say I am a social media hound or even enthusiast. I use it and understand a bit of it. It is, however, the communication tool of the 21st Century and anyone wanting to communicate can no longer pretend it doesn’t exist. All those kids that ended up in typing 101 because they flunked the pretest for advanced chemistry have an edge on those of us who did not take typing. They might not be getting the last laugh but they are communicating better. Communication not only gets things done, it moves the world and faith forward.

My foray into computers was rather uneventful. Actually it was decidedly uneventful, to the point of being a failure. However, that failure proved profitable. Being a school teacher in one of the three lowest-paid states, I had just enough money to keep the bank from closing my checking account once I paid all my bills. I did not have enough to qualify for free checking. My using the automatic account card, though, did. I did everything correctly but still managed to crash the system each time I attempted to use it. Once, after church, a bank vice-president followed me from the parish coffee hour to a nearby ATM and watched me try to take out the minimum allowed. He concurred that I was doing everything correctly and then sighed heavily as the machine had its meltdown. The bank promised me free checking if I promised not to use their automated system. Clearly, I felt, computers and I were not compatible.

I managed to continue my free checking, with some preplanning of my needs, and got along quite happily until being hired by the federal government. A computer somewhere in the vast computer system that was the human resources department of the Department of Defense decided to turn my twenty-two years of playing piano and twenty years of playing organ into forty-two years of “keyboard education” and that meant I was qualified as a computer systems analyst. No matter that I was not even thirty years old yet and could not possibly have more experience than I had time on earth, the computer had decided it and so it was. Talk about some quick on-the-job training and praying!

This morning I began online, counseling and supporting someone whom the Episcopal Church in her area has treated poorly. Because of her strength, those who would rather follow than lead fear her and have treated her like most people who are scared – they bullied her. I do not use that term lightly or without forethought. When people of faith ridicule others for not thinking the same, when they refuse to allow someone else to help because they “aren’t in the crowd”, they refute everything the Episcopal Church and the Bible proclaim.

We are about to enter the third year of a three-year initiative in the Episcopal Church promoting “Invitation.” I asked an Episcopal priest, not long after the initiative began, who he was inviting to the Church. He replied: “People just like me; People I know.” When I pointed out that such an attitude would eliminate most of God’s children, he look surprised. None of us are exactly the same and apparently God loves that. He didn’t make just one type of aquatic animal or just one mammal. We have a plethora of flora and fauna, mountains and valleys. Even the weather varies, sometimes from extremes all within a few hours in the same town. God likes diversity!

We cannot assume, as the DOD computer did, that all should be the same. One keyboard is definitely not just like every other keyboard. I press C-E-G on a piano and get the happiest chord in the world, the same tones that casinos use because they evoke happiness. Press a C-E-G on a computer terminal keyboard and you get “syntax error” and nobody is happy when that appears. We should not assume a new way or new person isn’t valuable. We should listen and then try. All of God’s creation has value.

The best advertisement for God is the kindness, love, and welcome we show to all. We are his best social media. Our behavior must be inviting and our selfies must reflect His love.
My Psalm 22

Dear God, where have you gone?
My brothers and sisters in Christ mock me;
They shut doors in my face.
They show me no compassion.

Where is the fault in me, O Father?
I am your Child, your creation,
Just as they are yours.
Do they not see that?

You are the Lord.
All is your creation, made by your hands.
Your image is in all.
Your creation reflects your love and it is good.

I am not a clone.
They fear their uniqueness;
Mine makes them uncomfortable.
Where are you in them?

I sought to spread your love.
My arms ached to be of service to your children.
They deny me that right
While much is left undone that I could do.

You, O Lord, have promised us love.
You will use me.
You will deliver me
From the persecution of their fear.

The bullies will perish;
The faithful will prevail.
Your loving children will triumph.
The future belongs to the faithful.

One thought on “Pentecost 22

  1. Thank you for addressing bullying in the church. It is far too common a phenomena for many so that I wonder why leadership ponders the lowering of ranks. When priests and their staff, much less the congregants, refuse to intimidate others for not being of the same mind or a little different from the norm, maybe they will grow once again, and especially in wisdom. Jesus is a compassionate God, not an accusing one. Your writings are a source of blessing.

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