Working Together from Afar

I have mentioned that I attended an online education program about digital ministry, and I found it to be both thought-provoking and disturbing. On the one hand, the speakers affirmed much of what I and Calvary have been trying to do since the pandemic forced us into this new reality. The ability to reach many more people through different platforms opens up a multitude of ways to reach beyond our local church with the good news we have to share. On the other hand, talk of Virtual Reality Church cringes a bit; I guess I am too much of a people person to move away from being present with others. This move into digital ministry will take careful thought and prayer, mostly because we don’t want to leave anyone behind, and that would be easy to do if we aren’t careful.

One of the critiques of digital ministry is that there is a lot of talking, reading, praying, and thinking, (all good things) but not a lot of doing God’s work together. After all, for two thousand plus years we have been, mostly, a high-touch organization. In worship, we share the passing of the peace and spirit sightings and prayers. On a daily basis, we provide food and other needs for people struggling to make it. We clean the block – we tutor – we visit the hospital. And I mean we; if the clergy person is the only one doing these things, the church is in trouble. And digital ministry transcends creed and denomination and area code. Some of you live across the country; some of you are Jewish or Atheists or Muslim; some of you know me personally and others have never met me. We are a community within and without borders, and I love that part of this movement most of all. How do we do God’s work together when we aren’t anywhere near each other. I have an idea.

Every week or two I – or you – will suggest a mission. It can be big or small, but it will always be a way of helping others. This first mission will be two weeks long and it will be a simple task – feed someone. Buy a gift card to a fancy gas/food place, restaurant, or your local supermarket. If you are in Reading, PA, go to Cafe Esperanza and buy a wooden meal coin (they’ll explain how it works). Drop food at your local pantry (Calvary has one that is always in need). Bring a meal to someone who is homebound. When you see someone with a sign in need of food, or hanging out at WaWa asking for a handout, give them the gift card or buy them a container of soup. It literally takes 5 minutes or less to be a blessing to someone else. It might mean a little less time on Facebook for you; it might mean living another day for that person.

Then report back to me privately, if you want to, and I will list the acts of kindness without the names (we don’t like to brag, right?). Can you imagine 500 or 1000 people doing a random act of kindness by feeding someone this week? It would be a small dent in the problem, but it would still be a dent. We would be a nameless faith community on a broad scale (Ohnsmanism just doesn’t sound right, does it), doing ministry together while we are by ourselves. Digital meets analog – Spiritual pushes physical. God’s work gets done and nobody gets the credit. That, I think, is what ministry should be. Talking, reading, praying, thinking; then doing.

Prayer – Holy God, whatever this new faith reality is, we need Your guidance to make it work. Less us, more You. Amen.

Today’s art is “Helping Hand” by Linda Carmel.