It was two Sunday’s ago and I was walking to church. Down Mayfield to Starbucks, of course, and then right on Lee to this church. And as I walked, I passed Barles, the fairly new sandwich and soup establishment. (It’s very good by the way. I recommend it highly.) Written on the window were the words: “Wireless Fidelity” – Wi-Fi. Actually I didn’t know that Wi-Fi was an abbreviation of Wireless Fidelity. Wi-Fi sounds contemporary, wireless fidelity sounds rather quaint. What it means, of course, is that you can take your laptop, your iPad, or your smart phone into Barles and while you are eating you can check your email, shop on Amazon, Google the latest gossip – or whatever you want.
Wirelessly, you can access the world wide web.
There is something very theological about that, don’t you think?
I am reminded of the Communion of Saints that we name each communion: “therefore joining our voices with the angels and arch angels and all the company of heaven who forever sing to the glory of your name….”; or, the great cloud of witnesses that is described in Hebrews chapter 12 “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run the race that is before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…” I love thinking about this great fan club that is constantly cheering us on in life: “You can do it John!” Often times, when I am at the bedside of someone who is passing from this life to the next I imagine the whole host of those who have gone on before welcoming the new comer: “jump on in the water is fine!”
The old summer vacation bible school song – “The banner over me is love” – has the same kind of idea: We are living with power all around – and when we plug into it we have access to that which is constantly present. If we don’t plug into it, well – you are missing a whole lot of stuff.
We can’t see the presence and the reality of this great cloud of witnesses, or the banner, or the presence of Christ among us any more than we can see the world wide web. When tragedy happens like in Newtown, we might wonder what good is this divine access.
BUT – what are we left with if there is nothing? In what is there to hope? For what do we then live? AND for those who do trust in this spiritual circuitry (so to speak) and for those who have plugged into it – we can talk about an experience of spirit, of love, of presence, of joy, of power, in inspiration – we inhale it and exhale it. It is everywhere. What do you think it is when you are overwhelmed all you can do is sigh, or cry, or stand dumbfounded before the presence of beauty? I have heard too many stories and seen too many examples of personal transformation, of insight, of power NOT to believe in it.
Remember that line from that great movie Angels in the Outfield? “Even though you can’t see us, we’re always watching.” That might be a little bit creepy – but the sentiment of presence is a lovely thought.
Let’s go back to the words “Wireless Fidelity.” The word “fidelity” is from the Latin meaning faithful. To have fidelity means to be faithful to a person or a cause, to demonstrate faithfulness through loyalty and support. Sexual fidelity to your spouse or partner is, I think, not some old fashioned notion but fundamental to spiritual and physical health.
High Fidelity means the “electronic reproduction of sound with minimal distortion.” In other words, what you hear on your recording is faithful to the original – what you hear is what was played, what you read is a true expression of the author.
One of the great Christmas hymns is “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Adeste Fidelis, if we were to use the Latin words of that great hymn. Fidelis means “faithful.” Adeste means “to come to or towards.” And this got me thinking about Christian faith and faithfulness as we plug into this world wide web of love. Most of us don’t think we have much faith, or not enough faith.We feel inadequate. Far too many who see doubt as the opposite of faith, feel, sometimes twisted in knots because of what they don’t or can’t believe.
But Christian faith, Christian fidelity, I believe is less about what we bring to the picnic and more about sitting down and eating what is laid out for you. Are we willing to come towards and see and sit and eat? “Come All Ye Faithful” is less about the faith we bring to the cradle of Christ and far more about Jesus, the source of faithfulness, who lies within the simple sty upon the straw.
The question for you and for me is this: are you willing to come to the source of faithfulness? Just as you can’t see the world wide web but you know it is there, can you even imagine that there is a web of faithfulness, a divine source pulsing energy to you and to me, and despite the distortions of institutional dogma, and interpretation – there is still something primary and fundamental binding us together, loving us together, pulling us towards a common goal of goodness, empowering us to love the unlovable, and serving the neediest, and sacrificing for others, and marching for justice.
The scripture tells us of a universal web of creative power that is calling us all to access – free access – we plug in through prayer, through worship, through art and music, through praise, through works of justice – through just being still, through engaging with scripture.
I think of Mary having access to the divine presence – she wondered: “How can this be, since I am a maiden?” And yet with the Angel before her (perhaps a member of the heavenly Geek Squad, which helped her get connected, so to speak?) she opened herself to receive. She gave her heart and trusted in the fidelity of what she was hearing – trusting that, with minimal distortion, God was working in her, with her and through her. Elizabeth felt it too: “For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.” I guess Mary became the “hot spot!” – radiating the power of the divine presence. No password needed!
And the source of all good, the Creator of all being, the one who loves you more than you can fathom has a word to you and to me, to us, and to the world that is faithful and the more we connect with it, the more we access it, the more we open ourselves to receive it – the more useful we become. Mary bore the living word – the Christ, Emmanuel, God with us. You and I are to be reflections of this living word, Christ in our daily lives.
God is faithful showing strength with his arm – “…scattering the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. God has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise God made t our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”(Luke 1:51b-55)
God is the source of all faithfulness. God has made a promise. That promise is shown to be true wherever the lowly are lifted up, and the hungry are fed, and yes, when the rich and the powerful don’t get their way.
Jesus is God with minimal distortion. Jesus presents God with high fidelity!
Faith is not about what you believe or don’t believe (intellectually) – faith is what you give your heart to. You and I are called to high fidelity – with minimum distortion being the beloved children of God in this world reflecting what God desires.
May your soul, like Mary’s, be magnified. May your spirit rejoice. May you feel God’s favor for you too are blessed. Come to the source of high fidelity. Plug into the web of love which encircles everyone always and is yours at all times and in all places to access through Jesus Christ our Lord.