In my own blog, and in my own spiritual journey I have tried to make sense of my connectedness with the men of women of my faith throughout the ages. This probably stems from an innate desire to justify my own presence in Holy Orders as one who feels a little like a fraud. This probably stems from a need to belong to something bigger – to find ways of accepting that I am somehow important as the man I was called and born to be.
I am not a world-class theologian. I am barely qualified to any level. I have a temper, and I am not as holy as many who attend my church, let alone those who are in the Orders like me. That’s a fact. What I believe, though, is that I am here for this purpose, to do the job I do and in the way that I do it. I am perhaps a blunt instrument, but the world needs priests and Christians like me. The difficulty for those such as us (and perhaps for all Christians, I don’t know) is that we seek justification through association.
I have no desire to make this post a session of self-flagellation. I lead a growing and happy Christian community on the edges of something rather special. As someone else put it recently, we are a fire set and about to be lit. That same person regards me as a the spark. However, what do I do and why? This is brought into even sharper relief in the digital world as I am exposed to many more Christians. Yes, in many ways digital discipleship is easier because I am, to a certain extent, an apparition. I can hide behind a little linguistic subterfuge simply because I am blessed with a way with words. However, in one moment I am engaging with professors of theology, in others moments with digital nuns! Sometimes, ones inability is placed in emphasis when we may seek to allow our aptitude to take the Bolt position.
The reason why this post is late in the day (and apologies to Bex, who is incandescent with rage I should imagine) is because I spent much of the day sitting with a dying man. He will not waken tomorrow and I pray that God receives him home this night. Only six days ago, he was awake and alert (albeit bed-bound) and was marvelling at my iPad. He was a gifted carpenter, and wondered how such a piece of kit should work, let alone why I might choose to own or use one. I have fast discovered that I have a stock answer – that it is my Bible, my diary, my newspaper, my contact with the world, my email, my novel of choice, my game for the moments of relief – and it is also a million conversations with a million Christians I may never have otherwise met. Then he understood, and then he wished he was a little younger.
Where is this missive going? Connectedness it vitally important to me as a Christian. I not satisfied to be a Christian simply ‘in the now’, but one in a long and unbroken line that leads directly from Jesus himself. That I have my place in that fine and now aged tissue of direct connection means that for all my failings and despite all my moments of pride (of which there are many, too), I have a place that counts and that I must occupy. Add the digital component to that and the effect is multiplied exponentially. Before all this techno-voodoo that I discovered in 2006, I was a member of individual parish communities that somewhere were connected in dioceses. Now, simply because I can buzz a friend in the north of England or the south-west, a new friend in the States or one in the Holy Land – I am part of something that finally feels as big as it is.I am not one link in a linear chain from Jesus to this moment, but a link in a chain-link fence that tries with all its might to save the world it surrounds.
And I rather like it.