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You, me, Christmas and the internet

This year the Revised Common Lectionary has us exploring the Christmas story found in the Gospel of Luke, particularly looking at Luke 2:1-14, verses 8-14 which go something like this:

The Shepherds were not at Jesus’ birth as they were away in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks at night. Because they were unable to be onsite with Mary and Joseph, the Lord sent a message via an angel. Like a glitch in the night sky, a figure materialised before them, and the glory of the Lord radiated like waves of energy around them. The Shepherds were terrified by these radical methods of communication. 10 The angel figure then spoke to them saying, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news—even in this unconventional way—and it will cause great joy for all the people.11 In the town of David a Saviour has been born, and he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 You must travel to go find him, and you will recognise him by this sign: a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 There was another flicker in the sky, as if the surround-sound system kicked in, and suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising, tweeting, and posting about God, sharing,
14 “Glory to God who transcends all time,
and peace to those in the physical realms with whom God’ favour rests.”
Luke 1:8-14 PH Translation*

This version may seem a tad different to what you have read before, however, the Christmas story and the digital world are surprisingly more connected than we may think.

You see, just like the author of Luke documented the events of Jesus’ birth within the larger narrative of scripture, our lives are also unique stories within a larger divine narrative. How we connect with each other, what we post and share across digital forums and communities document the events of our own lives. Acknowledging our own agency is the first step in understanding the role we play in the grand scheme of the digital world, as these interactions are not just about us as individuals—they are part of the bigger story. The second step to consider is how you are to use your agency within the digital landscape, and the Christmas story found in the Gospel of Luke can also help us with this.

The author of Luke tells us about how an angel appeared to share the good news of Jesus’ birth, and how it should bring about great joy for all people. The angel was accompanied by a throng of heavenly hosts proclaiming God’s glory, and how the peace of God is also possible on earth as it is in heaven. Perhaps this should cause us to ask whether we are living our life in such a way that we are contributing to this joy and peace for all people? Are our digital interactions documenting words, actions, and expressions of joy, encouragement, and hope to others? Are we able to see our digital platforms as part of the throng of heavenly hosts?

Another learning we can glean from the Lucan story is in the depiction of Jesus’ birth in a manger. That the Saviour of the world came to find rest in a humble manger can help us to seek out this same humility in the digital world. Despite the array of possible ways God could have chosen to enter the world, we find the Messiah to be wrapped in cloths as a baby—vulnerable and dependent on others. Despite the array of possible ways we can interact in the digital world, are we choosing our interactions to be clothed in humility, open to learning, respectful of others, and seeking authentic community that cultivates genuine interdependent connections?

Along with a sense of authentic connection between each other, are we taking the opportunity to seek God’s presence in the digital world? Like how an angelic figure can materialise out of nothing, are we open to God speaking to us in radical, unconventional ways, too? The angelic presence spoken of in this Christmas story reminds us that God repeatedly transcends all matters of time and space. Are we on the lookout for this divine presence in our digital interactions?

The points above are just a handful of ways the Christmas story continues to speak into our current lives, by offering us lessons into the digital world. No matter how personal our algorithms get, our digital interactions are never only about us; we are connected like a web of threads woven into a divine digital tapestry. And don’t forget that the Christmas story not only tells us of the day Jesus’ entered the world, but it can help guide us in understanding who we are and why we matter in the interconnected digital realms, too.

*PastoralHare.com Translation

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