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St Johns Southgate

06 Oct 2020

“You’re on mute!”

By Tom Hoffmann - Pastor

“What were you saying?” “Sorry about that ... What was I saying? ... Never mind, the moment’s passed.”

As much as we have all tried to make the most of video-chats, they simply cannot replicate in-person contact. We can, and should, count our blessings for the phones, the tablets, the apps and so forth, but prolonged periods of exclusive use can just leave us longing for the real thing.

Distant a memory as it may be, do you remember what it was like to have someone pop around, to make them a cup of tea, and to be able to sit through a brief silence without it meaning that it’s probably time to hit the red button?

It goes without saying but inhabiting the same physical space with someone creates a moment of mutuality. Sharing air, as much as that sounds out of bounds these days, builds real-time rapport which no amount of reverse engineering can resurrect in the digital space.

Even when we enter a COVID-normal, video-gatherings, in many cases, are going to remain a necessity. So how do we find the authentic moment through the two dimensional medium? How do we breathe in the shared air, even when we’re apart? Good lighting, the right camera angle, and remembering to smile even when you don’t feel like it, won’t eke out the elements of connection. So maybe, just maybe, what we’re left with is giving attention to our words – the words we speak and the words that come through the speakers to us.

The Scriptures are full of passages that express the importance of listening carefully, knowing when to remain silent, and discerning when to speak. And yet, even if we aspire to those principles, chances are that in this time of online communication weariness, our words aren’t going to be uttered with their usual eloquence. We’re going to need to be forgiving of each other’s words or the struggle or hesitation to get them out.

As it happens, Jesus of Nazareth, is referred to in the Bible as “The Word”. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,” we hear of the incarnate God. And if there is one thing that Jesus – God in human form – embodies, it is merciful understanding.

Things aren’t easy at the moment. But if we can put a little trust in each other to be forgiving of our lockdown fatigue, we might have the courage to unmute ourselves, converse with honesty, and give and receive the support we all so desperately need.

So, put your headphones on, plug in your microphone, listen up, and don’t hesitate to pipe up. We can make this work together. Even when it feels like it’s failing, remember, we’ve got that Jesus guy listening in, receive our stuttering words as prayers and having his heart bleed for us.

It’s going to be okay. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. I think I believe it. But even if I don’t, the faith that Jesus had in humanity – enough to die for us – gives me faith enough to hang in there and speak words that reflect his confidence in the future. If that’s hope, I have it. And I hope you will share in it with me •

 

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