Chances are you didn’t know that this Sunday is Social Media Sunday in the Episcopal Church. I had no idea either, until I read the insert for the bulletin for this coming Sunday. Social Media – for our grandparents or great grandparents it may have been a daily newspaper, or a telephone or television, or perhaps a computer in their own house. For us it is so much more – instant information from around the world (or the person sitting next to us) via cellphone, twitter, instagram, you name it. What will it be for our children and grandchildren?
The gospel for this Sunday is the story of Lazarus and the rich man, from the gospel according to Luke. Lazarus was a poor man who begged outside the home of the rich man. The rich man ignored Lazarus, stepping over him (and probably worse) every day for years. When they both died, Lazarus found himself in the loving arms of Abraham, tended by angels. The rich man ended up in Hades, where he found torment, hunger and thirst. Perhaps the worst of his torment was being able to see Lazarus comfortably embraced by Abraham, while he, rich his whole life, now suffered.
The entreaties of the rich man went unanswered, and he was reminded that he had many opportunities during his life, but had ignored them all. When he asked that someone be sent to warn his children so they could repent, Father Abraham offers these chilling words: “`If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”
So what does this have to do with social media? We are bombarded every day by the faces and words of men, women and children both nearby and across the world. Many of them bring joyful messages beautiful thoughts and memories. But many are suffering, and show us the pain of violence, poverty, natural disaster, injustice… you name it. The temptation can be to turn away, step over, or, occasionally, worse. How are we to respond?
That is a question each one of us must answer for ourselves. Our Bishop and Presiding Bishop continue to offer words of encouragement, and the House of Bishops has issued a Word to the Church which can hep support us in this work and these times.
Always before us is the example of Jesus, who found his power in caring for those in need, and working always for justice; and the abiding love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to remind us that even the smallest act of kindness makes a difference.
Let us pray:
O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Peace and blessing,