There were forty days of Lent, not including Sundays. And now there are fifty days of Easter, which does include Sundays. That’s because, as someone else eloquently said somewhere along the line: “Easter is to the year, what Sunday is to the week.” Every Sunday is a Feast of the Resurrection, that’s why it’s not included in Lent: it’s always a celebration.
I kept the blog in Lent, as a way of learning more about using the internet, and various networking tools that have recently become known as “social media.” And it did serve that purpose. I’ve looked into other churches’ webpages, their resources for virtual connections through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others. I discovered many wonderful connections along the way, and noted them at various times throughout Lent.
One of my favorite new resources is called Religion Dispatches. It’s a daily collection of articles from various publications on religious issues, from different perspectives, so it’s not necessarily a mouthpiece for progressive Christianity. It comes out every day, is very well-written, provocative, and is on-line. The articles are always timely, relating to some current event or topic of discussion. The link is here It’s worth exploring.
It’s also worth looking around at other churches websites to see how we hold up. I’ve discussed social media with other pastors, and we’re all interested to see the ways social media is changing our practices of evangelism and education, and worship, for that matter. Our church’s ministry can extend much farther through electronic means, which is a good thing since we are geographically isolated in some ways. We joke alot in Gloucester about going “over the bridge” but in fact, St. Paul Lutheran serves four other communities on Cape Ann, and we have people coming from Beverly and Rowley. A strong presence in social media would be good for our members here at home, as well as those far from us, and those who are seeking a church, or a connection to a community on-line. I’m thinking about some of our community’s young people who serve overseas, or family and friends in other parts of the country, or our college students. I’ll bet many of our college students on Facebook would befriend or become a fan of a St. Paul Facebook page.
Earlier in Lent, I wrote about an ecclesial phenomena known as the “emergent church.” It’s a phrase used to describe the way Christian communities are re-organizing in the 21st century. Dan Kimball, one author on the emergent church, published a book in 2003 called The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations. There have been significant “emergences” since then. But Kimball introduces the notion at the end of his introduction this way:
May our hearts beat fast when we think of how our churches can be known for their love, for the way they pray, for how they share Jesus, instead of being known merely for a style of preaching, music, artwork, or candles. The emerging church is about the Spirit of God producing missional kingdom-minded disciples of Jesus now matter what methodology we use. The emerging church is about love and faith in a post-Christian world. The emerging church is about Jesus.
Perhaps the first emergent church began on the road to Emmaus, when two friends and a holy stranger discussed the scriptures, and the hearts of the two friends who listened, “burned within them.” The two friends on the road experienced the presence of the Risen One in a new and powerful way. May your hearts beat harder, as Dan Kimball prays, may they burn within as we meet again and again the Risen One in our midst.