The Church and Online Media 2

Just an update from my post last month. The first day of this course unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the snow. We therefore have the first course coming up this Saturday. I was disappointed (of course) but I have acquired new books and resources since then, and I’ve been able to have some good conversations with those interested, but confused by social media, and so now I think I have a better understanding of what some of the ghoulies which surround this topic for some of the older generations. Its a different way of thinking, which I think is going to be difficult to get across to some people, but I enjoy a challenge. The bottom line from my point of view is that if the church stand any chance of reaching the younger generations we need to keep up (if we can’t be ahead) of the language and means of communication. The church was so quick to acknowledge the great opportunity and advantage that came with the printing press, but we have been so slow with digital communication. So I am determined to bang this drum and bring people along side with me bring the church into the 21st century and to use the tools readably available for the spreading of the gospel to our current and future generations, for the sake of the Kingdom, for the sake of Christ.

Oh, and as a p.s. an extra date has been added so there will be a course on the 2nd March.

Disturbed into action

Today we celebrated Candlemas in many of our churches, well… The Presentation of Christ. There was no blessing of candles, but there was celebration for the end of this Christmas/ epiphany season. I am also quite grateful to be able to take down my decorations. However much I love them, they do look a little sorry at this stage of the year.

I took two services this morning, a standard Eucharist, and a family service. For the standard service I looked at the song of Simeon, how familiar it is in the evensong service and how lovely and reassuring evensong can be, especially in places like cathedrals where usually there is no participation required from the individuals in the congregation.

I posted on twitter the other day: “@sjj_poppy: We can turn worship into an escape from the world, Simeon and Anna were in the temple not to escape, but seeking God’s presence in the world”

I was thinking especially about some of the congregations we take care of, for how many of them has church become an escape? Escape from the world and all it’s troubles. We create (or try to create) for ourselves a world that appears constant and unchanging, where the old ways are the only way of doing things. John Betjeman creates this image in his poem which starts ‘Across the wet November night’.

But it’s true that these characters who live and work within the temple at Jerusalem were not there to escape the world, but to seek God’s presence in the world.

Is our worship meant to be only a reassuring retreat from the world? Is it not meant to disturb us?

If we read and reconnect with our liturgies and scriptures, we do not find a comfortable escape. We find a place that challenge us. We find a calling from God which cannot be ignored. When we are confronted with the awesomeness and wonder of God and when we consider the reality of God, are we not drawn and called to action and to actively seek out our God? Not sit back and escape these realities?

Confronting God is not always comforting experience, for Simeon he knew what this meant, hence his words to Mary “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Our image of the meek and mild Jesus does not match our knowledge of the disturbing force can be. For Simeon and Anna their disturbance was also met with joy. For others they are met with the reality of themselves.

We know the affect that Jesus has in our lives. Look at the early church in the acts of the apostles, not much comfort and retreating from the world going on there!!! These activities, and the motivation of the people came from their encounters, and experience of Jesus. They allowed themselves to be disturbed into action and their lives were never the same again.

We are called to be people of The Way, a pilgrim people, not holding onto the past, not apart from the world, but moving on and through the world.

I told my congregation that if we are not disturbed, then the church will die and if we are not moved by our encounters with God then our churches will become monuments to a past ages which our future generations will fail to understand.

“Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation”. Luke 2:29-30

May we be one day be blessed with Simeon’s peace, with his knowledge that he has done all that the Lord has required. May we not miss out on our opportunities to know that there is more to life then the here and now.

The Body of Christ???

I don’t know if this happens to many other priests. But occasionally after preaching, I have a line or two from the sermon I preach follow me for the week afterwards. This has been on if those weeks.

Last week we heard one of Paul’s great sections from his first letter to the Corinthians, the unity and diversity in the body. “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12. I started my sermon by talking about baptism, because it had been a hot topic over the previous weeks, and there was a baptism within the benefice also, I spoke about the joy the church should feel when accepting a new member of the body of Christ “in one Spirit we were all baptised into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

I continued by exploring what that body looked like, the body of the church was similar to our own physical bodies, they are made up of different parts, but each part of them equally necessary. And it’s true, we need all our different members if we are to be the fully functioning body of Christ.

Now, it is this next part that has been haunting me.

I’m not sure that the church (both locally or internationally) behaves as if really believe this.

Do we as a church believe that each member of church is equally as important? Because we certainly don’t behave like we do a lot of the time. Between self deprecation and judgement on others, where is that belief that we are all and important part of the one body?

“There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other” (1Corinthians 12:25)

But do we? Do we have equal concern for each other?

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of believing and behaving as if one member is more important then the other, or one member is more useful then others. I wish I had a £1 for every time I heard someone say that they are not good enough, clever enough, enough enough to do things within the church and within their own lives. Did God not give us the gifts which make us enough? Did a god not give us what we need to be enough in is eyes?

I wish I were more like…….. they are so……………….

“Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Corinthians 12:29-30)

As a church, I don’t think we do behave as if each member is of equal importance to the body, there are times and places where members do claim superiority over other members. I take some comfort that the church in Corinth fell into this trap also, which is why I am grateful for Paul’s words. We know Paul’s answer to the question he poses in verses 29 and 30.

We need to work harder in accepting all, and the variety of gifts that they bring. We need to work harder in seeing people for who God has made them. We need to work harder in seeing everyone’s role in the body.

If we are to continue Christ’s mission in the world, we need to start acting a little more like his body. Together with our brothers and sisters, both close at hand and far away, we are the Body of Christ. We are called to live that identity, and to engage in the mission that comes with it….

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12.

…..not later, when we’ve got our act together, or when it’s more convenient, when our health is better or we have more time on our hands. Not later but TODAY.

The Church and Online Media

It’s been my day off today, so I have spent it doing most of the writing for the Church and Online Media training days. I still prefer the old title for it ‘Sacred Social Networking’, but at least it’s happening. I think it is about time the Church in Wales got to grips with online and social media! Our societies and communities are moving so fast, if we do not do something soon, we will match our stereotype in being backwards and old fashioned.

I spend a good part of lunchtime working my way through the Church in Wales Social Media Policy. A 13 page document which can be summed up by using the last page. It was interesting to see how media has moved on so fast since this document was written.

I am really looking forward to these days and just hope they are well attended. We need more churches and more good priest online and sharing the gospel to the ‘missing’ generations.

Links below to the forms that were sent around the clergy (and hopefully passed onto the congregations)

The Church and Online Media

Yr Eglwys a Chyfryngau Ar-lein