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“On-line Faith”

Sermon: “On-line Faith”

Rev. Glenn G. Grant

Kirkridge Presbyterian Church

Transcription from November 20, 2022

Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors

Over the past several years, I think we're into our third year now, where churches especially have really had to discover what it means to be able to be connected online. You know, there were a lot of places before, I mean, workplaces were connected online.

There were a lot of things that were done via email or whatever in offices all across the country, but churches were a little lagging behind in connecting to people in the online community. And then Covid happened and kind of forced the hand. And we discovered rapidly that online was a way of staying connected when we were forced to be apart.

Now the flip side of that is that now people don't want to go back to being in person. There's even a phrase for it, you know, it's too peopley out there. And that shows up on Facebook and Twitter, and even in conversation. And it's one of those things where people had gotten into the habit of being able to attend church in their pajamas and slippers with their cup of coffee or whatever their beverage of choice was at that hour. And maybe, oh, since the online presence is available at any hour, yeah, maybe you were sitting there attending your worship service online while you were eating dinner or late at night or middle of the afternoon because you didn't like the football game that was on or what have you. And connectedness has taken on a whole different meaning than what it has traditionally.

And that is especially problematic in the Presbyterian church which claims to be a connectional church. You know, what does being connectional mean, when you're not together? What does connectional mean when it's easier to log into Zoom than it is to leave the house?

What does it mean to be the church and the body of Christ when you don't have to be present with anybody else? And that has presented a whole new set of challenges for the church.

Now that's a modern-day issue, to a point. To a point, the connectional part of being a Christian is something that has existed for a long time, and Paul, in his writing to the Church of Colossus is addressing a thing about disconnection. What does it mean if we're connected or disconnected? And we have a lot of folks that Paul was talking to that were kind of feeling disconnected from things, and he is writing to remind them that they are always connected. Always connected.

Now we think of being always connected as having one of these things (cell phone) in our pocket. You know, I remember back in the early nineties that I was feeling always connected because I had something that our youth now don't even know what it is. It was a pager. I had a pager that was always on my belt or my nightstand because I was serving as the backup Chaplin at the local medical center, and I was on call 24 7. And every time I heard a helicopter, I started checking the pager to make sure I wasn't having to run to the hospital.

And that was, you know, that was the predecessor to being on cell phones all the time. You know, now we get text messages, we get tweets, we get Facebook posts, we get emails, and each one of 'em, depending upon how your phone is set up, you might have a different tone that sounds, for each one of 'em, so you know whether you can ignore it or not.

You might even have a different ringtone for family members than you do for work calls so you know how to answer your phone, and you can't get disconnected.

Researchers are showing that one of the biggest problems for people who can't sleep at night is this (cell phone), or their tablet or their laptop that they have been working on, sitting there, reading things online or being connected to that hour or so before they go to bed and they go to bed with this sitting next to 'em and they're listening for it to ring and so they don't sleep well.

We are being connected that way, that we lose sight of what it means to be connected as the body of Christ.

Now, like all things, the internet is a tool. Our cell phones are a tool. They can be used for good, for bad, they can be neutral. You know, being connected to the internet is sometimes problematic if we don't learn to put it aside. By the same token, it allows us to do things like get prayer requests out immediately to a lot of people. And that's a good thing if that's the way we're using it.

Paul was talking to people that were feeling disconnected. People that were feeling like they couldn't be with that group of people because of this reason or that reason or whatever reason. And just as Jesus was addressing people throughout his ministry that were marginalized, Paul is writing to people who just feel like maybe they're not being included in what is going on in the world.

The world is passing them by, and they're being left behind or left out of the game. Now, I don't know how many people remember doing the old thing with a baseball bat, and whoever gets the hand on top, you know, gets to be the captain that makes the first choice for who's on their team. But I bet you, we all remember in grade school or whatever, there was probably some time when teams were being chosen up that you weren't chosen first or even until last, or maybe you weren't even chosen. And you start to feel like you're being marginalized, being left out.

And we have a lot of people in our world today that feel like they are being marginalized and left out and disconnected. Whether it be because they just can't afford things, whether it be because they have a mental health issue, whether it be because they are living in an area where everybody else is of a very different opinion, whether it be because they don't dress the right way, or they don't have the right kind of countenance. Maybe their skin tone is not right, and they feel left out and marginalized. And this is the kind of thing that Paul was writing to the people of Colossus, people that were feeling marginalized and left out. And he reminds them that in all things, Christ is what unites.

Christ is superior to all of these things that divide, and as long as they focus on Christ as their redeemer, as a savior, they are included, and they can get through whatever the world is sending their way. I don't know about the rest of you, but there are, I think if we're honest, we all have to acknowledge that there are times when we feel like we're on our own. And there are good precedents for that as well.

You know, we had Elijah who said, it's only I, Lord. And God says, uh, no, it's not just you. There are all these other people out there too. Moses, I can't do that on my own. God says it's all right, you're not gonna be on your own, I'm gonna give you Aaron.

And time, after time through scriptures we see examples of where people think they're on their own or marginalized, and they're brought into the fold. Throughout Jesus' ministry, he was bringing people into the fold, and this is what Paul is reminding people of, is that Jesus in his earthly ministry was always bringing people into the fold, but as Christ started as the redeemer, as a savior he is the uniting power that brings us all together, you know?

Has anybody ever heard anyone say something about their church family? Their church family? I can tell you that almost every time planning a memorial service for someone who has passed away, there are comments about the church family. I've even had that from people who did not attend church.

And yet there is something there that connects, something there that connects. And we as a church need to get to the point where we realize that we are the connection, we are Christ’s representation in this world. We are the things that can hold, we can be the glue that holds things together, whether we're in the sanctuary or whether we're watching online. Whether we're at all at the same time, or whether we're separated by hours or even days.

But the one thing that is Superior and predominant about our faith is that Christ is center and is our uniting power.

When we take communion, it's a reminder that Christ, died for us. When we share in communion, it's a reminder that Christ didn't just die for me, but for all of us together.

And in Colossians, we can look back to the two verses before our reading this morning, and we get this: So that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him. As you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience.

That gives us a reason for being united in Christ. So that we can do all of those things, so that we have the power to endure, so that we have the power to reach out to those that are disenfranchised, so that we have the love that we can show to all of God's children so that we are working for the kingdom.

And it is in that connection, that connection. Not this connection (phone), not the connection that comes from who's sitting next to me in the pew or chair, not in the connection of all rest, but in the connection with Christ.

We need to have all Christians, all Christians, trying to live out that connection. The connection to one another, and to all of those who are yet to know the faith. We need to have that kind of connection to bring God's kingdom to fruition. Where all can live in peace, where our planet is taken care of. You know, Colossians said that God intended for all faithfulness of God through him, God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things. All things and all people, whether on earth or in heaven.

So, when we start living out the kind of connection in Christ that allows us to care for all things and people on earth or in heaven, then we are truly, truly living the life that calls out to Christ as our king and our redeemer.

Let us pray.

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