Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Virtual Faith - Incarnational Community

Pastor David Hansen (@rev_david) is hosting tonight's chat, and sends in this reflection to get us ready.

Ok, so this is a little late. But I'm getting married in two weeks, so I've got a few things on my plate. Mea culpa. See you tonight!  ~ David 

“The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us . . . ”

At the center of the Christian faith stands this phrase, this idea of incarnation, the in-fleshing of our God. We believe that the eternal creator of heaven and earth chose to be made known to us in flesh and blood.

Along with the account of God’s good creation, the doctrine of the incarnation gives Christians a unique affirmation: physicality is a good thing. This material world around us is good stuff created by God. These bodies in which we find ourselves are not a prison to be escaped, but a gift from God.

The central acts of our faith also express the power of the physical. Splashing water is heard and felt as new Christians are welcomed into the community of faith. We smell, feel, and taste bread and wine as we gather around the table. Physical acts and physical things, sharing our faith in the incarnate God.

Of course, as an advocate for using social media in ministry, I strongly support the idea that community involves more than those who are physically present. I look at our church’s language about the “communion of saints” – the community of all the faithful across space and time – as a way of articulating how the community of the faithful has always been more than those physically present.

 And yet . . . 

Sooner or later, we have to wrestle with this idea of virtual community and incarnational faith. Sooner or later, we have to find a way to put into words what this “community beyond the walls” really is and how it fits with our faith.

Is virtual community compatible with incarnational faith? Let's chat.

Image: Madonna, Albin Egger-Lienz, circa 1920. Public domain. 

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