Where two or three are gathered…

I was asked to officiate an odd funeral today.

I didn’t know the woman who had died, or her friend who had made the arrangements. That’s not odd. What was odd was that the man who made the arrangements ended up being the only person who came.

The deceased had been born, lived most of her life, and passed away in Georgia, but had told her family and her friends (including the friend who made the arrangements) that she wanted her ashes buried in here in Schodack. She passed away nearly a year ago, and there were memorial services for her down South with her many relatives. At this time, the family was ready to have her final requests honored, and so her dear friend brought her ashes to Schodack. And we did a burial service (me attired, of course, in my funeral suit, which, as I’ve said earlier, makes me look a little like a character from The Matrix).

Just him. And the funeral director. And me.

And a gentle breeze through the still-damp grass, and the birds chirping pleasantly in a counterpoint to the prayers, and a view of the Hudson, meandering its way south.

It may have been one of the sweetest, most Spirit-filled memorial services I’ve been privileged to do. There was something so honest and gentle about it.

When was the last time you were surprised by a quiet moment of grace?


Friend and fellow blogger Jeremy has a great post today about the meaning of the Incarnation in a virtual world.

One of the tenets of Christianity is that Jesus is God-with-us, Emmanuel, human. How do we preach the Incarnation in a world where we can craft virtual space so easily and completely?

I won’t try to re-state, as he says it very well, but it’s related to the question I asked Dr. Bryan Stone after his keynote address and the post I wrote about why I blog. I will, however, reorganize and re-post what I replied.

I don’t have any answers about the role (if any) the virtual world can play in spirituality or evangelism or the experience of Christ, but I have some ideas.

I think Jeremy’s right that it has to do with process. We are unfinished people, and we experience Christ as a living, ongoing part of our lives. This means that in the ongoing journey that is a game, or a blog, or an online interaction with eight million lil’ green patch requests to respond to, we can relate to the idea of Christ’s interaction with us being ongoing and unfinished too.

I think it’s about praying without ceasing, making our lives and our actions– all of them, acts of worship and service. My former District Superintendent spoke of prayer as something he did all day; he said “Dear God,” when he got up in the morning and “Amen” when he went to bed at night, and everything in between was an act of prayer. Can we prayerfully blog? Can we carve out sacred virtual space?

i think that it’s about communication. That’s evangelism, anyway, the good news. In as much as avatars and blogs and facebook profiles are attempts at self-expression, they are a part of the narrative we tell. For those pre-industrial agrarian types, the language and medium of a book was radical (you mean we can take God outside the one Temple?). This is the next place where the narrative of God’s love is unfolding. It is of course more than a medium, and that’s sort of the question as always, how not to get the message caught up in the medium, but it’s also a good place to begin our understanding.

I think it’s about understanding what relationship is– and isn’t. There are friends I’ve never met who are dear sisters and brothers in faith to me. I’m not saying that takes the place of the people I can touch and hug and smile at. Those emoticons don’t really convey the love I want to share. :-/ But I can hear from loved ones I can’t be near, and encourage and be encouraged by them. I can reach out to ones I haven’t met yet, and maybe touch and be touched by them.

We are not the first generation to do this.

Imagine, just for a moment, that Paul, rather than writing letters, blogged. That his epistles were blog entries: “@church of corinth: enough with the fighting already! love you guys still, and so does God.” That’s kind of where I’m going with that.

And with that, I have a giggly image of some sort of journalling RPG community recreating the early church and Paul’s epistles in blog form.

Care to weigh in?