Wednesday, October 10, 7pm at West Springfield United Methodist Church
West Side resident, Kirk Jonah, will discuss his family’s experience in hopes of preventing any more young people from succumbing to the same fate as his son, Jack who passed away in 2016. He hopes to help other parents identify warning signs of opioid abuse and guide them to prepare to be able to handle an addiction before it is too late. If you have teenagers please bring them to hear the discussion. Even if your children are small now this information may be invaluable to you in the future.
All Are Welcome
You know how it goes… you are bored and so you sit there and cruise through your Facebook account… wasting a lot of time, watching stupid videos, and then you come across someone’s posting that you either really like or really hate. It’s probably a share of some graphic. If you like it you might click the like button, leave a comment, or maybe even share it to your post. If you hate it, maybe it is so politically charged that you are saying quietly to yourself “how can so and so be that stupid.” You then see some comments, that fans the flames and so you do it, you click and comment on how dumb and idea, stupid a comment, how it is all fake stuff… you know the drill… because a little while later you see that someone has replied to your comment with some new tidbit which further infuriates you and off you go again…
I confess, I have fallen down this rabbit hole myself. Chasing a wild hare around each corner, knowing that I am changing the world with every comment I make! OK, not really changing the world but I sure am convincing a lot of people about whatever it is I am so ‘correct’ about, that’s certain. OK, so maybe I haven’t changed anybody’s idea of how the world should work but I feel better because I stood my ground, even if it was just electrons showing up on a screen, sent there by a company that is mining everything I say…
I began to suspect that maybe, there was something wrong with me when I read an article in “The Christian Century” about how partisan politics has become a new form of idolatry. What? Idolatry. It made me stop and think about how much time I waste on social media, thinking I am changing things. It made me stop and wonder, “am I worshiping something while I am on Facebook?” Whoa. It made me think about what I am really doing to “Make Disciples of Christ for the Transformation of the World” by being on Facebook, or Instagram or whatever and getting all wound up by these really inane posts.
It’s time to ‘step away from the keyboard’ as they say, because someone is getting hurt, and it’s me and the rest of the world. I think I had made an idol out of Facebook. Yes, and idol as in the biblical reference to “making an idol” like in Exodus 32 and I felt really crappy about it. I felt like I had let down God and myself. It really stunk. I was wasting the very few hours we have in a day, in our lives, posting, commenting, really doing nothing of value and that’s when I decided to challenge myself.
Here’s the 2X challenge:
For every minute on Facebook or whatever your favorite social media site, you have to spend two minutes reading the bible, working on a church project, studying scripture, praying, or some other spiritual effort (volunteering, etc.). Since most of the time when I am ‘doing Facebook’ is when I am alone, I opted for the studying scripture, praying, and reading the bible.
That started the ball rolling but it wasn’t enough. So, today (that’s July 16th, 2018) I decided to no longer respond to any political posting. So if someone shared something awful about the world, no comment, no like, nothing. I found myself blocking a lot of people at that point and based on my first rule, I also have increased my prayer time and scripture study.
How about you? Want to really change your life? Want to actually impact the world? Take the Facebook 2X challenge above.
It started out simple enough…. “Love one another as I have loved you.” That’s the message repeated over and over again. This week’s lectionary had us reading John 15:9 – 17, (I really like Peterson’s “The Message” for this, so here you go):
“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
“But remember the root command: Love one another.”
And this week, the Council of Bishops for the United Methodist Church must have been reading this too. They chose “Love one another” over all the rules and biases that are slowly eating away at the love that should be the center of the church.
Read Bishop Devadhar’s letter to the New England Conference if all this is confusing to you. You can find it here.
For me, living the command, love one another, is never that simple, never that easy. The other day I was driving along, minding my own business when a guy in a pickup truck (who had been on my tail for the last couple of miles because 7 miles over the speed limit was not fast enough) decided to cut around me, slam his truck in front of me and then ‘salute’ me with a single digit. I yelled out ‘Jesus!’ but it wasn’t a prayer….and that’s the point of this passage in John. It is hard to love everyone, it is hard work. Look at what it cost Him!
This week the Council of Bishops put love above rules. This week the Council of Bishops dared to love instead of judge. This week, my church said, “enough.”