These days our culture and pandemic circumstances are all about being connected. Many of us carry phones that don’t just let us talk but see each other via video, search the Internet, blog, text, email and act as computers, GPSs, cameras, TVs, and record players. They connect us to each other and the world 24/7. This has become even more evident during Covid 19.
It is more than obvious to me that keeping connected is vital to our lives. Changes in how the church connects with people these days has shown us even more. That can be a good thing or a bad thing.
Many of us like to be connected to a church. We like the security of having a place that will baptize us, confirm us, marry us and bury us. But Jesus was not interested in religion or religious practice. He made a consistent effort to connect with people…creating relationships. Our faith and hope in Christ is itself based upon a relationship that is deeply connected to the Savior. That kind of relationship takes time to build, nurture and grow. It is not based on denominational loyalties, church attendance or worship practices. It has been difficult for many to shelter in place and not get together as usual with other Christian friends at church. Lack of Christ-centered connection affects us negatively.
Our connectedness with the world is ultimately a distraction away from Christ, and from real relationships. We think our Facebook “friends” are genuine and that texting or emailing is effective communication. We think that being busy day-to-day equals being productive. We think having a full schedule means we are important.
But a schedule full of what? How much of what you do during the day is Christ centered? How much has eternal value? How much of a difference in someone’s life do you make?
Bottom line: we flounder because we do not put Christ first in our lives. Our knowledge of the Lord is superficial because we do not take the time to deeply connect with Him. Maybe some of what the world is going through these days is a call to return to the Lord. You can be the judge of that possibility.
We flounder because our relationships with other people are not a priority. Those connections are also superficial. We are too busy or too afraid and so we really don’t ever get to know one another. It takes a crisis to truly help us see priorities.
Because of these missing connections and relationships, our mission and ministry efforts become and remain crippled. We see others as mere cogs in the church machinery. Doing a job is more important than serving our Lord. We are certainly are busy…keeping up facades, maintaining traditions, propping up programing, and just going through the motions. But do these make a difference? Do we actually make any meaningful connections? Everything may look good on the outside, but is that really serving the Lord?
At Calvary, the core of our challenge…in getting volunteers and leaders, in conquering our financial constraints, in maintaining significant commitment levels, and in overcoming our seemingly uphill battle to move forward…is our lack of connection. We are missing that relationship with each other and with our Lord. If our way of gathering as God’s people is changing due to external threats, exploiting all ways of remaining connected meaningfully is crucial.
If we are honest, when it comes to messy ministry, we don’t want to get involved…to get our hands dirty. Because it’s time consuming. It’s hard. It’s unpredictable. There is no roadmap. There is no one-size-fits-all. It is not controllable. Connectedness involves getting personal, one-on-one, taking the time, caring. Being…not doing. And through it all, God has only two things to say to us: Love others and Trust me.
Look around. People are struggling in their personal lives! Families, careers, health, and the like fall apart. Do we, as the Body of Christ here at Calvary, really care to get messy…to connect to other people, who, like each of us, struggle daily?
Do you really just want a “baptize me/confirm me/marry me/bury me” religion? Is that what Jesus offered?
People need to know that The Church is here for the detached, the disenfranchised, the hurting, the fearful, and the hopeless so that we all might be more connected to Christ, His work, and to each other. The life of Jesus was all about personal relationships. Is what we have to offer in Word and Sacrament real? Yes! Is the knowledge of forgiveness and a secure eternity in Christ reason enough to drive you to connect with His Word and by extension, impact the lives of others? May it be so!
Get and stay connected!