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Spiritual matters

God offers ultimate social network site

January 05, 2011 - In my Christmas Eve sermon last month, I referenced a conversation with a friend on Facebook.

While I am not a Facebook fanatic, I recognize the value of connecting with people with the immediacy social networks like Facebook provides.

The ability to connect across miles and time allows people who would not know about each other to remain connected.

My daughter recently told me there is no reason for her high school class to have a reunion.

Everyone she wants to remain in contact with from those days are currently among her "friends."

She says conversation at a reunion would usually consist of questions like, "where are you living, what do you do, tell me about your family," etc.

All of this information she receives with casual glances at their postings. As she says, "Except hanging out with my closest friends, what would we talk about?"

Last week, there was an article in the news about a little girl who received a kidney from a stranger who heard about her need on Facebook.

The mother spent hours networking and hoping. Because of that connection, the little girl is now free from dialysis and home.

Social networking is so successful because it connects to one of the deepest human needs – the need to be in community.

We are created in the image of God and in need of others in our lives. We all have differences in our need to be with others. Some need many friends, others only a few. Some like to spend most of their time with friends, others need less time. But we all have a need to connect.

The creators of social networking knew this. So did the creator of creation.

God was quite intentional in creating us to be in relationship. Jesus grew up and gave us an invitation to be part of a social network. It is called the Kingdom of God. All are welcome.

The primary relationship is found in being connected to Christ. Our connection to Him is the foundation of a network of people who enter into blessed connection with each other.

In these relationships we experience real love, acceptance, mercy, forgiveness, hope, and justice.

I hope in the coming days you will have many friends. May you have friends whose hands you can shake, eyes you can see and share the joy of breaking bread together. In this New Year, I pray we all grow closer in our connection to God and our relationship with Christ.

May we discover the joy of laughter and love with the friends God has given us and those God will lead us to in His name. Happy, Holy and Blessed New Year to All!

The Rev. Richard L. Dake is pastor of Clarkston United Methodist Church.

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