23 Apr 2017
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42) In the name …
Elon Musk has made a fortune off of PayPal, Tesla Motors and Space X. He’s a visionary who sees things before anyone else and then he makes it happen and that’s how he makes a ton of money. This is a guy whose hunches we should pay attention to because of his track record of success. Mark Zuckerberg is one of the richest people in the world and one of the most influential because of his company – Facebook. 1.23 billion people log onto Facebook every single day sharing personal information about themselves. This is an absolutely huge platform to speak from.
I’ve even been sucked-in to this Facebook phenomenon that I used to tell myself I never would allow to happen. I post often for Holy Name and Women’s Ordination Now, but I don’t even know what’s on my own personal page. And sometimes I only check in half-heartedly. I log in, but I’m not paying real close attention. That’s why I had to drop Ellen a quick email a few days ago to tell her this story. On the Women’s Ordination Now page she had posted a link to a New York Times article. Above the article, so before your eyes noticed its title, she typed in her own comments, all in capital letters with exclamation points and question marks in bright red, and it went like this: “NOPE ... NOT MY PASTOR‼️ WHAT ABOUT YOURS” Then there was the link to the actual article. Well, the capital letters and red exclamation points had captured so much of my attention that I didn’t have enough left over to concentrate on the headline, which was “Is Your Pastor Sexist?” Instead, my mind’s eye saw “Is your pastor sexy?” And immediately my brain linked that to “NOPE ... NOT MY PASTOR” And that’s the story I had to email Ellen about a few days ago. But even if some of the Facebook time of 1.23 billion daily users is something like this, it’s still a lot of people and a lot of influence, enough so that we should definitely be paying attention.
These two powerful men were in the news this past week. Musk has people working on the integration of computers directly with the human brain. That’s not so farfetched. If you’re my age or older, you probably remember doing school reports from encyclopedias. There were actually door-to-door salesmen who used to come around and try and sell these shelf-busters to families with kids. When I looked up Elon Musk for this sermon, Google searched over 32 million sources in less than one second. This is the new norm, and we carry computers in our pockets everywhere we go. They’ve become a part of the way we think and argue. It is not farfetched to imagine that this information-power will be internalized and immediate in the not too distant future by linking it directly with our brains.
Zuckerberg realizes that the Facebook phenomenon will not last forever. My daughters were home last weekend. I overheard in conversation that they hardly ever check in on Facebook. There are other platforms they use and I can’t even tell you what their names are because I don’t know what they are. But with his fortune and talent pool, Zuckerberg is working on creating access to alternate realities to draw people in anew just like he did when he created Facebook. These would allow people to immerse themselves in world’s that only exist in computer code. That’s kind of like the novel A Brave New World where the ones who refused to access this other reality were thought strange and primitive. It’s not hard to imagine the allure of fantasy when real life may not be as appealing.
I mention these two visionaries and their projects because they have the ability to make them real, and if they succeed, not only is our world going to be radically changed, so will we. And I mention them on this Sunday after Easter because Easter numbers tell us that there are a good number of people who believe and who also accept that church is a vehicle that can help that belief, but the smaller numbers on the Sunday after Easter also tell us that in a changing world, and one that could possibly be in for some huge changes, that church needs to be more than a place we go for one hour a week to sit and listen.
Think back to this morning’s Lesson. We hear that the first Christians continued attending the Jewish Temple and its worship. They would gather there together as a separated group, but it was still in the Temple. The old ways were still sacred to them. Layered on top of these old traditions, however, were newer ones. The first Christians were students who listened and learned from the twelve students who listened and learned from Jesus: the gospel was beginning. And they shared table. They broke bread and offered prayers, which is an ancient way of saying Holy Communion and liturgy. And long before church buildings, they did all of this in each other’s homes. “Day by day” is a phrase the Bible uses today; faith was a way of life not a moment out of life. It was authentic and it made a difference.
Our world is changing. People are changing. And that change is going to happen faster and faster. Zuckerberg’s alternate realities and Musk’s altered minds are going to take us along with them. This can be scary, but it can also be exciting and full of potential. The world of the first Christians changed radically and quickly, but they grew exponentially amidst it all because the church offered them something greater. The world is still changing and we’re still that same church, and we still need to offer something greater. That something greater is always Jesus, the resurrected Jesus who is always with us, and who still draws Christians in greater numbers to church every Easter because there’s meaning to this. We just need to figure out how to better share Him in a world of alternate realities and altered minds so that Christ and church can still make a difference because with people changing our realities and our minds, we’re going to need morals, ethics and Christ maybe now more than ever. For this may we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. (+)
Fr. Randy Calvo