Thursday, December 17, 2009

virtual presence?

"In the name of Jesus....Amen"

Those were the words at the end of an important prayer in our family's life. Many of them, actually, but one in particular for this post. It was the prayer spoken when we moved into our very first house that would become our home. Praying that God would bless it for His Kingdom, and protect it from any kind of evil. That it would be a home, with Christ as a foundation, source, and direction. That the people who enter would sense something different about the very way "existence" happens within those walls, something intangible and from God's Spirit.

I've always been a fan of "thin places" in Celtic traditions. Even with the post-modern movement of de-emphasizing physical locations and the "holiness" of places or objects. Not that I believe my house is a thin place, but I believe in the power of prayer, and consecrating something to God's use...setting it apart as "Holy".

The question I've been thinking about/praying about lately, is when and how this topic collides with a virtual world. Personal computers and laptops are a bit like "spaces" that we spend a lot of time these days. Especially when we bring the aspect of the "internet" and the fact that you can "visit" other people's "spaces", and even spend time "with other people" in those spaces.

Unfortunately, Augustine, Luther, Wesley, and even NT Wright haven't done much writing on the topic of God making virtual locations "Holy". Maybe I'm missing it, but there doesn't seem to be much theology worked out on God's "virtual" (online) presence, or interaction. Maybe that's okay, because this is all silly nonsense.

And yet...I pray. I enter the page you've created....your "space", and see how you've decorated it. What you've "hung on the walls". What words you've given to those who visit. I visit your facebook, and pray. I visit your myspace, and pray. I visit your blog...& pray. Not only for you, your family, your life....but also for that page. For your interactions with it. For those who visit it. That God's presence would collide with that "space".

Again..maybe it's all silliness. But I guess my faith is that if God doesn't function in a non-existent "virtual" space....then He'll understand the heart of such prayers is for His presence in your life. And my own life. Perhaps using social networking tools that offer to cheapen relationships and deteriorate the very fabric of actual human interaction, as a participatory and active way of staying involved in what would normally be a list of names to pray over. To be praying as we move through the virtual spaces of others, for their lives and beyond. May God offer redemptive interactions with these things and more....

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