As we enter the time of Lent we are once again thinking about all the ways we can be aware of God’s work in our everyday life.
On the first Sunday of Lent we will acknowledge both our humanity and our unique call to be as humanely and humanly as possible, people of God. We will dip our fingers in the waters of baptism reminding ourselves that we are children of God and then receive ashes to remind ourselves that children of God are fragile beings, subject to temptation and sin and being led astray.
With this introduction to the realities of our lives, we will continue our journey through Lent thinking together about what it means to be a following of Jesus in a world the is permeated by media, technology, and global economies.
I believe that there is a spirituality in all things, even in our 21st century life that seems so full of non-spiritually minded distractions. And I think that one of the reasons we find ourselves so disassociated with the spiritually of the 21st century is because we have been led to believe it is all so evil.
Remember, when the church thought dancing was evil? Card playing? Working on Sunday? Remember the movie “Footloose”? That movie was based on actual events. Just as in the movie, the church I attended as a teenager and young adult, did not allow going to movies, dancing or playing regular cards. I will never forget sneaking into Dr. Zhivago with my best friend in high school. I could hardly enjoy the movie because I was afraid someone might find out I had attended it.
While we now might think these attitudes are ridiculous, I think some of the attitudes we have about computers, media, and technology are the same as the attitudes some people had about dancing, cards and movies in the 60’s.Each generation creates their own ‘evil list’.
But we should have learned by now that naming benign things as evil does not help us grow as Christians.
What helps us grow as Christians is learning how to see the beauty and spirituality of life that is possible when we think carefully about how we engage with culture.
A story that inspires these thoughts:
I was in a shop one day looking at lovely items from all around the world. My eyes were drawn to a little doll, dressed in African cloth, a beaded necklace adorning her neck, holding a bowl made from a gourd embellished with small shells; I could tell someone put a lot of love and care in making this little wired dolly. I was immediately in love. But what really sold me on this dolly was the reason she had been so lovingly crafted.
Girls in Mali, Africa, one of the poorest countries in the WORLD, wanted to purchase computers for their school. GIRLS in Mali, Africa, a place where girls typically don’t go to school past elementary school, if even that.
Girls in Mali, Africa crafted these dolls to raise money for computers so that their education could be comparable to other developed countries. Girls, in Mali, Africa who were more often than not, married off to men while they were in their teens, had the vision and drive to improve their lives! In ways most of us would never imagine.
THAT is what always, always inspires me. Anyone who has the imagination to see beyond what others see in possible.
These girls continue to inspire me.
Every time I look at my little dolly, because of course, I purchased her, I wonder, did they get their computers? What are they doing now? And, more importantly, how can I live in such a courageous way that defies other people’s expectations of what I can do? May we all be courageous as we imagine ways we can partner with each other in doing the work of the gospel.
Grace and Hope, Pastor Debra