Luke 9: 28-36; 2 Corinthians 3:12—4:2; Exodus 34:29–35
You’ve all heard of Facebook, am I right? Whether you are on Facebook or not, I would be surprised if anyone here has not at least heard of it. It’s a way to be in contact with friends and family – or whomever you wish – by way of the internet. It’s an open forum for talking about whatever it is you want to talk about. Let everyone know what’s going on in your life. OR post your opinion on something. OR rant about this that or the other thing. You can post pictures from your vacation or your kid’s birthday party – or whatever. In many ways – it’s a neat forum for staying in contact with people you want to stay in contact with.
But I gotta tell ya. I hardly ever go on any more. Maybe once a week. Maybe. I heard on the news this week that more and more people are taking a break from Facebook – also known as FB. Some I understand are even giving Facebook up for Lent.
But since it is such a popular way to communicate – it is still a goal of mine – sometime in 2013 – to open a Facebook account for Zion. I’ll let all of you know when that happens. And then – I hope you’ll “like” us on Facebook. I assume since you’re here today – you like us anyway even if we’re not on Facebook. But we’ll see how helpful a tool that medium will be in getting the word out about what’s happening around here
I mention that today – because in all three of our readings today the word “face” is mentioned.
In Exodus we find that Moses has just received the 10 Commandments on two tablets of stone from the Lord on Mt. Sinai. As he comes down from the mountain, Moses’ face shines with the glory of God – after he has this encounter – let’s call it a face time encounter – a face time encounter with God. As a result, he has to put a veil over his face because God’s glory shines so brightly – that the people he brings the 10 Commandments to are afraid to come near him.
In our second reading, St. Paul, writing to the church at Corinth, uses this experience Moses had with God – and referring to the veil that Moses placed over his face – to say that in Jesus Christ – the veil has been removed. And we can look at Christ’s glory with unveiled faces – in other words – we can come to Jesus as we are – face to face.
And then, in our reading from Luke – we have what is called the Transfiguration of our Lord. The disciples – Peter, James and John – have a little face time with Jesus – and Moses – and the prophet Elijah. And as Jesus is transformed – or transfigured – before them – we are told that his face changes – and his clothes become dazzling white. What Peter and James and John see are Jesus in all his glory. Face to face.
These three readings – these three texts – are text messages that God is sending us today. And beyond the fact that all three texts have the word “face” in them – there is a message from these three texts that I want to talk with you about today. Call it Facebook vs. face time. Hi tech vs. high touch.
May I suggest that in the world of Facebook, video conferencing, Go To Meeting, Skype – text messaging – you name it – in this world of high tech communications – as convenient as these things are – may I suggest to you that nothing beats good old fashioned – one on one – face to face contact. And this is true whether we’re talking about life in the business world, the neighborhood, or in the church.
For instance, when a couple comes to me wanting to get married, I have them go online and fill out a pre-marital inventory. It’s a survey that asks all kinds of questions about the couple’s ability to communicate – about their finances – about their future in-laws – well, hey! That’s important. There’s just a whole host of things that a couple who want to get married needs to know about themselves and about each other – before they get married. Then I sit down with them, and talk about the results of the survey – face to face.
About two years ago, I did a pre-marital counseling session with a couple. They were living in Denver, and were not able to be back here in Western New York before the wedding. So – for the first and only time – I did a pre-marital counseling session via Skype. For those of you who don’t know what Skype is – it’s a way of talking to someone – anywhere in the world. All you need is a computer with a camera, internet access and a Skype account. And you can talk to someone through your computer face to face. Well, sort of. I’m happy to report that this couple is happily married – moving back to New York – with a baby on the way. So – it must have worked.
The thing is all of these technologies – Facebook, Skype, Go to Meeting, Webinars – are wonderful ways to get things done in the business world. They can save time and money. They are also really helpful when the grandkids live out of state.
But – for all of their conveniences – still – nothing beats face to face contact. But since we now live in this world of hi-tech communication – and there’s no going back – I guess we just have to live with that tension that exists between hi-tech and hi touch. But still…
I like the story of the busy father whose four year old daughter wanted him to read to her every night before she went to bed. The stories were often the same, so he came up with an idea. He read all of his daughter’s favorite stories into a tape recorder – this is when tape cassettes were the best technology available – showed his daughter how to put the cassettes into the tape recorder and how to turn it on. And she could listen to her father read her favorite books to her on tape.
So the first night, the father puts his daughter to bed, puts the cassette of her favorite book into the machine, kisses his daughter good night, closes the door, and goes about his business. In a few moments, his daughter comes running out of her bedroom, book in hand, and says, “Read to me Daddy.”
The father explains to her that that is what the cassette machine is for, and the daughter replies, “Yes, Daddy, but I can’t crawl up into its lap, and give it a hug.” Technology is a wonderful thing. But it cannot take the place of a face to face. Facebook cannot replace face time. Hi-tech cannot replace hi-touch.
Now, you know that you can read my sermons from our church’s website. And it is my hope that sometime in 2013 that we will be able to record my sermons – and perhaps someday even the entire worships service – as a podcast that you will be able to watch on your computer from our website. Some of our Florida snowbirds have asked us to do this. Again – I don’t offer this as a substitute – because nothing beats face time – us being here together on a Saturday or a Sunday. But as hi-tech ways of staying in touch on those weekends when you just can’t be here, it works. Or you just thought the message was so great that you wanted to see it and hear it again – or read it for yourself – or more likely – send it by email to someone that you think needs to hear it. On those rare occasions when I am asked for copies of my sermons – this is most often the intent.
And I think all of this hi-tech stuff is a wonderful thing. A wonderful way to get the word out. But let me tell you – high tech can never replace high touch. Facebook can never replace face time.
As you know, over the years I have run into folks from this congregation all over town here – at the post office, at Wegmans – at wedding receptions – on the bike path. And if they haven’t been here to worship in a while – sometimes a great while – I tell them we miss them here – and invite them to come back. And as I told you not too long ago – some people tell me they feel guilty when they see me around town. And others tell me all sorts of reasons why they don’t come more often – or don’t come at all – but will also let me know that they still pray every day. Well, okay. That’s fine. That’s fine as far as it goes.
AND I’ve also gotta tell ya, there are people here worshipping today – who used to fit into that category. People who used to stay away – sometimes for years – but who have discovered that there is just no substitute for the real thing. No substitute for face time. No substitute for face time with God – face time with each other – here in this place.
You see, here’s the thing. God wants greatly to be in relationship with you today. And you cannot be in a relationship – you cannot relate to anyone – unless you are communicating with them. God communicates to us through his Word, through worship settings like this, and through your brothers and sisters in Christ. We communicate with God and God communicates with us through worship and prayer and fellowship with other Christians. That’s face time.
So let me encourage to you to continue to meet God here in this place. Again – I can’t stress this enough – it’s why church matters. Let me invite you to enter into the life of God, and be ready for a transformation. After Moses saw the glory of God – after the disciples saw the glory of Christ – and after St. Paul saw the glory of Christ on the road to Damascus – each one became a different person. They were transformed by their face time with God. Transformed by their face time with Jesus Christ.
Let me tell you that as disciples of Jesus Christ – each of us has been “transfigured” – we have been transformed – by our face time encounters with Jesus Christ. And what’s more, we are called to be the face of God to the world. And what does this face look like? It’s like I told you last week: Love God. Love your neighbor. Nothing else matters.
So go ahead and use hi-tech methods like Facebook or Skype when necessary. They are great ways to stay in touch when that’s what you need to do – but let’s not lose the value of face time. We need face time with God – face time with each other. Face time with God – face time with each other. Face to face moments – here in this place – that build lasting relationships with God through Jesus Christ and with each other.
Facebook versus face time? I’ll take face time any time. And by the way, I learned after last night’s worship service – several people told me this – that there is an app called Facetime. It comes on iphones and ipads. I had no idea!
Anyway – any questions? If you do – just send me a text – at 984-XXXX. I’ve got my cell phone with me. Here’s my number. So call me, maybe. I’m serious! I’ll be happy to answer any of your questions at Mission Minutes time.