What If It’s Not All Just Slogans?
Those of us who grew up in the Pepsi Generation, who were encouraged to reach out and touch someone and who wanted to teach the world to sing, may find it all too easy to be cynical. We may too quickly dismiss words as mere slogans, but what if it’s not all just slogans?
Sunday morning, I sat in Christ Church in Tarrytown, NY. The priest was a friend from my early days in New York City. Many of us were getting together to remember when we all went to Grace Church in Manhattan. As we waited for the service to begin, Kim asked another long time friend of mine what was Grace Church really all about? Why did so many young people flock to it in the 1980s?
Kirk spoke about a Priest there who struggled hard with transforming an aging blue book relic into a community that really believed in its name, Grace.
What if God really does love us that much? What if it isn’t just words that we mouth on Sunday morning, but something that we believed to the very core of our being? What if we really are forgiven for all those things that we did and shouldn’t have done, and for all those things that we should have done that we just never did get around to doing? What if we really could find a way to love our enemies?
After September 11th, it seems to have gotten much harder to love our enemies. As oil continues to spread across the Gulf of Mexico and the heat soars, it seems harder to believe that there is a God that can clean up our messes and still show us love. As talking heads spew their venom on cable news shows, it becomes nearly impossible to imagine that someone could love President Obama, Sen. Reid, Speaker Pelosi, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck at the same time.
Yet in those wonderful days of Grace, we did believe that God actually did love us, not as some greeting card slogan but in a life changing manner. Friends became priest and missionaries. They took God’s love with them to their daily lives. They talked about Grace Church at the water coolers and people flooded in.
The decades have passed. We have celebrated each other’s weddings and the births of children. We have comforted each other as marriages ended in divorce and as loved ones have lost battles with horrible diseases. We have had successes and failures. Yet through all of this, the questions remains, what if it’s not all just slogans? What if God really does love us that much?
So, we gathered in Tarrytown and saw old friends. We caught up with one another. We talked about needing to stay more in touch with one another. Kate set up a Facebook group for us.
I’ve wondered what happens to Churches on Main Street as youth gather online instead on Main Street. I checked in at Christ Church Tarrytown on Foursquare, but few others have. I’ve wondered what happens when the discussions around the water cooler moves to discussions on Facebook. How do stories of radical grace get told today?
A key interest for me is telling our stories online. I’ve been interested in the history of revivalism in America. The Great Awakenings have led not only to great religious revivals, but also to major political and social changes. Will the twenty first century bring us a Great Digital Awakening? What might that look like? As people start looking for greater authenticity in their online interactions, especially their interaction with commercial brands, and as people start looking for greater transparency, especially from their governments, will this also affect their religious interactions online? And will these interactions further affect people’s interactions with brands and governments online?
Can our words of faith along with other words online be more than just slogans?