Monday, February 2, 2009


Wow. Two times in four days I received a response within 5 minutes that filled a need mentioned in an email. Two emails went out to a list of our local church folks and bam comes the answer!

Lots of things in scripture happen quickly because of relationship networks. This coming Sunday, for example, εὐθύς (euthys - Greek for "immediately") upon leaving the Capernaum synagogue Jesus goes with his disciples to one of their family's homes. Immediately (again εὐθύς -- it's one of Mark's favorite words) they tell him about Simon's mother-in-law who is ill. Wasting no time, Jesus takes her by the hand, lifts her up and "the fever left her." Right away word spreads and lots of people bring their friends and relatives to be healed.

As I was studying that Mark 1:29-39 text last night, I was thinking about how isolated some people are and how our American way of life exacerbates that isolation. We live in separate homes or behind the locked doors of apartments. We don't walk or ride public transportation. Our marketplaces are often impersonal. Entertainment soothes solitary hours with the push of a button on our remotes.

I imagine it was very different in Jesus' day. I imagine people walking, meeting, greeting, haggling... I imagine a world filled with voices--some joyous, some angry or sorrowful, but a world with much less loneliness. In Dassel or Cokato you need to go to Daniels or the Grounds to find a similar atmosphere. Some work places and schools are abuzz too. So different in most private homes.* In our homes, the most familiar voices come to us in the media!

So, I was very thankful when people responded so quickly to the needs that went out via email. Email and the internet can connect folks who might otherwise be isolated. Of course, not everyone is included in this electronic network. I only have a relatively small percentage of our church folks in that distribution list and many of our people don't use email much or at all. Still, it was heartening to see the quick response.

(I mentioned to a community member how "networking" through the church could help him find a job. A fax came in today to our church fax machine with a job application for him. Don't forget how the church can be helpful in all the areas of your life!)

God wants to use all of our relationships in his service, whether they are mediated through computers or telephones or, the best, face to face. I hope we'll never forget how important it is to meet one another across a table or at informal gatherings. And let's do our part to remember those who otherwise might be left out.

*It has been claimed, however, that people who live in generational poverty tend to put a higher priority on relationships than do middle class folks. See also Ruby Payne's somewhat controversial work in her book What Every Church Member Should Know About Poverty available in our church library.

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