Friday, August 16, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 222: Isaiah 19-21; Psalm 32; I Timothy 1

Connectivity Issues
That is not just the title of today's post. It is also the state of being we are experiencing in our house today. Earlier this morning, after reading and before writing, I sat down at the computer in order to connect a "plug-and-play" device to our network. It plugged, but then it didn't play. On top of that, for some reason three customer service representatives from two different companies could not for the life of them get us back online again. Several hours and a new modem/router later, we are back online. What remains, though, is an awareness of just how important the word "connectivity" has come to mean for us in the present day. It means not only being informed, but being able to participate in communities that exist beyond he four walls of our homes and the immediate space we occupy with our bodies, minds and breath.

Via connectivity, we are able to extend ourselves to each other. For the most part, that means electronic communication via phone (cell and the rare land line), fax, internet and various and assorted other digital technologies that are dependent on being wired up and plugged in to devices and networks. It means that my ideas can be right in front of you, no matter where you are on the globe. It's a blessing when it works. It is frustrating and distracting when it does not. Earlier today, it did not work.

Connectivity also extends to our willingness to be open to relationships with God through each other and via a personal linkage...either through the Law and Spirit (Isaiah and the psalm today), or through the advice and pastoral counsel of our teachers (Paul to Timothy). Isaiah is reminding not only Israel and Judah that they are connected to each other and to God, either in righteousness (good) or iniquity (bad). Not only are they linked, but the fate of ALL the nations of the world are bound up in God's will. When righteousness and justice prevails, all is good. When they do not, then comes the bad: God's judgment is coming and is now present. Everyone will feel it, experience it....some will be the devices of God's chastising the unrighteous, some will be the targets. No one gets let off the hook. God's order will be asserted and will prevail. Our job? To get on board when the conductor blows the whistle. This train is bound for reckoning.

Paul does little to assuage us. The "Pastoral Letters" (the Timothies and Titus epistles) offer a more strident tone, one that opposes most of the other works in the corpus of letters ascribed to Paul. So different are they, their provenance as actually coming from Paul's hand is contested.

What the writer of I Timothy attempts to push us toward today is a code of conduct that is supposed to put us right with the Divine. "Do this" or "Don't do this" lines work to draw our focus into line with the writer's intent of making sure we don't mess it all up with bad choices that sever our connectivity to the "truth" of the Way.

My problem with that posture? Same thing happens to us when we get tangled in holiness codes as when I was not too long ago entangled with computer and modem cables...connectivity not only suffers, it crashes.

Our call as people of faith is not to default to codes that define holiness and decry pollution. Our call is to be in community with each other and with God, and to seek to nurture through prayer and practice a sustainable life in communion with God and our neighbor. That is when our "connectivity" blossoms and grows. Condemnation only serves as a lever of excision for those we consider unworthy of community (at best) or God's love (at worst).

The good news is that with a new modem/router I am back online and able to write, to post and to connect. The good news is that God is with us, and that regardless of the state of the internet, we are still one, created, redeemed and sustained by the loving witness of the Holy Spirit. Amen to that.

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