Daily Devotion 27 October 2020
Acts 10:34-37, 42-43 ‘The Message of the Good News to the Gentiles’
34 Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ – he is Lord of all. 37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’
A favourite of church magazines since time immemorial is the anecdote about the preacher on a Sunday morning, at church and getting ready. The preacher, having prepared fully, pops into the loo for one last comfort break – it could be a long service, after all – and completely forgets that their microphone is on, unmuted, and the whole church can hear their, er, ablutions. The magazine article can then insert at the end a suitable conclusion to the anecdote, including mutterings from the preacher about the congregation, Mrs Smith’s snoring on the back row, or the organist’s destruction of their favourite hymn. You’ll be glad to hear that – so far – I have not personally experienced this scenario…and hope I never do!
We live in a world where communication has disappeared off the scale in the last 10-15 years. Facebook-fanatics will post what they have just had for breakfast; WhatsApp-worshippers will send a video to a whole group of people of the walk they have just been on; Email-enthusiasts love the ‘Reply All’ button to fill the inboxes of everyone possible to reply to. Wow. You can see why some people take a holiday from social media, whether in Lent or otherwise! We have to take great care in how we communicate – whether you are preacher having a pee, or you rely on social media, or any other means. I have no problem in trying to think theologically about this at all:
• what does the message I am sending today say about me – or indeed about the person I am sending it to?
• is the message in the right spirit – is there love and respect evident in it?
• is the message unhelpful, ungrateful, or an obvious quick-send cross reply?
• could it be misconstrued or misinterpreted as negative or even offensive?
Don’t think for one moment I am suggesting you never disagree with anyone, or clash – that’s an inevitable part of life. However, texts, WhatsApp, emails etc are bad ways to communicate difference – always better to speak instead. The answers to the above matter if you are trying to live your life the way of Christ: because our witness to the good news – just like the first followers in Acts – is affected by how we share God’s love in our day to day dealings with others. So make sure there is a little of the love of God in, or through, every message you send.
God of grace, forgive our miscommunication, our self-interest, and self-promotion in our messaging.
May we share your love and your light in this dark world, by witnessing to the Gospel of Christ in our words, posts, messages, letters and calls.
Thank you for forgiving, loving, and setting us free to share your good news. Amen.
Reflection & Prayer © 2020 Paul Tabraham.
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