It’s hard for me to believe I have had a blog for 10 years, as the Pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church. When I started writing it, I thought I would be on here every week. Of course, that fell apart pretty quickly. Then, I had the bright idea of putting up sermons, and I did that for awhile. I also put up articles that I’ve written for our local paper; once, I posted a eulogy for a beloved elder who had died. Sometimes, I will post articles that others have written. But as good as my intentions to blog are, it is one of those tasks, (and it is a task, I dare you, dear reader, to do it) that easily gets put aside in the pastoral urgencies of the moment. The other thing that I find challenging is using a blog to reach out to complete strangers–people whom I might never meet, or people who might be looking for a church, or people who are just browsing, and stumble across something here.
Blogging is an art form, which I aspire to, but do not do very well. Does a blog make a “real” connection–especially if ministry is so much about authentic relationships? This question of authenticity on social media has long troubled me. Is this an authentic form of communication? Maybe no more or less than any other form of writing. Most researchers about church in the 21st century would say that it is authentic and useful. One of my pastor friends, the Rev. Keith Anderson, has just written a book about what he calls the “digital cathedral.” http://pastorkeithanderson.net/writing/archive/category/the-digital-cathedral-2 . I am a slow convert, but I’m getting there. And I may have even found an answer to the authenticity question–at least one I can live with. I’m certainly grateful to colleagues like Pastor Anderson who negotiate the way through a networked world. I’m also grateful to members of our congregation who are at home on-line in multiple ways (platforms?), and our young people for whom a digitally networked form of life is the norm. They, too, show the way. I’m thinking the Holy Spirit is probably at home in the networked world, in whirling energetic ways.
As far as this blog goes, I may go back to posting sermons, but the way I give sermons has morphed so much in these last years. Often my notes are not at all what gets delivered, and church is so much more than a sermon. It’s the community gathered and sent, the collective energy of people coming together around the word and the meal, and there’s prayer, and song, and sometimes lately, an incredible beautiful silence full of quivering vibrant energy, like wings in the wind, or leaves blowing, quiet, and alive. Sometimes, there’s surprises, because you can never tell what will happen in a church service. You can predict some of it, like the shape of it, but still wonderful surprises happen, outside and inside.
For today, and maybe for the next few weeks, I’ll try and be more of a blogger, and will try and return to the original concept I had when I started this blog. I wanted this page to be a beachcombing sort of page, the way you wander along the shore and occasionally pick up a piece of sea-glass, put it in your pocket, find it the following fall. Below, I offer you my beachcombing bit of glass for today–it’s actually much more like a diamond–at least it has been a diamond for me.
I read alot, and like beachcombing, I sometimes find treasures. This week, the diamond that shines for me, comes from Martin Buber. It speaks to a way of devotion to God and neighbor in our every day life. And it might even point to an authentic way for me to use social media. In a paragraph from an essay called, “Here Where One Stands,” Buber writes: “There is something that can only be found in one place. It is a great treasure, which may be called the fulfillment of existence. The place where this treasure can be found is the place on which one stands…If we had power over the ends of the earth, it would not give us that fulfillment of existence which a quiet devoted relationship to nearby life can give us. If we knew the secrets of the upper worlds, they would not allow us so much actual participation in true existence as we can achieve by performing, with holy intent, a task belonging to our daily duties.” May the place where you stand today bring you fulfillment.