Bi-Weekly Article Blog
Pastor Dan Hawn publishes a weekly article which is also emailed to members and regular attenders. Let us know if you would like to receive this weekly article via email. During the pandemic, the Blog will be bi-weekly, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
An Analog Spirituality in a Digital World - Part 3
Note: Beginning this week, and for the remainder of the pandemic, I’ll have a Pastor’s Article on both Tuesdays & Thursdays.
We’ve been considering how technology is impacting our spiritual lives and the church. In this article, we focus specifically on the effect of technology on relationships and community.
The irony is that the very technologies that were meant to bring us together are pushing us apart and making us more isolated than ever.
In his address to the 2020 graduates of Purdue University, Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana and current president of Purdue referenced “an epidemic of loneliness” in our country, which is rapidly becoming a public health crisis.
He told the graduates:
“The original promise of all the Facebooks and Twitters was that they would connect us in wonderful new ways. But connection over a text message or what is often a glamorized presentation of one’s daily life just isn’t the same as in-person contact. In fact, it often turns out to separate and alienate its users more than it brings them together.”
Daniels went on to encourage students to be part of a religious or faith community. That’s pretty bold for a secular audience!
Why is belonging to a church (and not just belonging, but actively participating) so important?
Because a church, by definition, brings people together. Church is about an exchange of presence, not just an exchange of information.
Importantly, the word “church” is a translation of the Greek word ekklesia, which literally means assembly or gathering – i.e., to be a church is to be gathered or physically present with one another.
This is why our two worship services have largely created two separate churches. We can’t claim to be one church when there is a large group of people we never assemble or gather with. Ouch!
It is our repeated gathering over a long period of time that is the very means by which we grow spiritually. For example, it is that “difficult member” who is actually helping me become more patient, understanding and compassionate. It is that other member’s criticism that is helping me walk in greater humility. We can’t learn these things digitally. After all, on social media, if anyone rubs me wrong, I just “unfriend” them.
It’s interesting that, in selecting his disciples, Jesus chose both a tax collector (Matthew) and a zealot (Simon). These two men could not have been any more opposite each other on the sociopolitical spectrum. Starting out, they likely resented and perhaps even hated each other. I’m sure the other 10 (and Jesus) could feel the tension between them.
But, after three years of walking with Jesus, Matthew & Simon embraced one another as brothers, brought together by a force much stronger than any of their own past histories, experiences and opinions of one another.This is the power of the ekklesia, the gathering.