29 Jan 2017

Of purple cloth and typewriters

"Typewriter for flowery prose"
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 by Bob Leckridge
            This week, preparing for our annual vestry, our world's rapid advancements in technology really struck home: some reports came in handwritten, one a mimeograph from a typewriter (purple ink with penciled-in updates), many came in electronically. With the push of a button our copier printed, collated, and stapled our vestry books (no Gestetner here, TBTG, but we still all get a paper copy).

            Reflecting on the intermingling of "current" and "outdated" technologies surfaced during the daily office, as scripture focused on Lydia of Thyatira (Acts 16). While early readers would have recognised the significance (and expense, and limitations, &c.) of this woman as "a dealer in purple cloth," our modern any-colour-you-want world may not appreciate the implication. Yet if we overlook the status and stature of Lydia, we miss the powerful message of her baptism by Paul, the faithful response to her calling, and her lifelong engagement in God's mission.

            I reflected on how in a short period of time, what is offered may become so common that over time it may be unintentionally overlooked, dismissed, even rejected:
            For the writers of Acts, Lydia's "purple cloth" speaks volumes.
            For vestry notes that are hand-written, the missional ministry articulated is what's important; likewise the mimeograph emphasizes stewardship (why create new paper when something already exists?) whilst highlighting an energising ministry.
            For the divine office that comes through a phone's app, or a website, or a book; the act of committed daily prayer is what matters.
            For our own spiritual practices, may we find ways that are meaningful to our own unique journey, and may we not be discouraged from practicing them so long as they are helping us more deeply connect with our God.
            For myself, being invited to blog weekly on The Community (thecommunity.anglican.ca)was a beautiful invitation into a new and challenging spiritual practice; for that I am thankful. While I have been asked to stop contributing there, I intend to continue the practice and discipline of intentionally seeking God's presence in the normalcy of everyday life.*

"Untitled" CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 by Hafsa M.
My hope then, is that whatever and however we are making our offering to the church, may the church as Christ-followers find ways to continue rejoicing in these ministries and spiritual practices: handwriting can be transcribed, mimeographs can be scanned, blogs can be relocated.

            So whether we understand the gifts or not, may we be grateful and thankful: Thank God for Lydia's purple. Thank God for the mimeograph's purple. Thank God for the purple ink in the colour-copies for the vestry report.

            Thank God for the wonderful opportunities for us all to share what we have been given; by the grace of God and to God's greater glory.

*My weekly blogs will continue on this site

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