What happens here doesn’t stay here. That’s a truth of our time.
We live in a hyper-connected world. Cyber technology transmits information across oceans instantly. That’s good and bad, of course, as all new tools bring with their creation both promise and peril.
The bad is well-documented and chronically lamented. Political and ideological actors of ill intent can destabilize countries and economies with misinformation and disinformation. Cyber hackers can steal you blind from behind screens of invisibility. They can sow discord and draw you down into rabbit holes of conspiracy theories. Before you know it, you are living in an alternate reality that bears enough semblance to reality to confuse you.
The good is oversold by Facebook and their like(s). Yet, a recent share in real time proved the power of information technology for social solidarity and spiritual sympathy.
In the weeks leading up to worship at the church I serve as pastor, Mike Capps, who conducts a choral ensemble, selected and adapted a piece by the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff titled “Morning Prayer.” It came from a portion of his work Shestopsalnye (Six Psalms). The text is from the Orthodox Prayer Book:
Glory to thee. Glory to thee. Glory to thee, God. Glory to thee.
We bless Thee, O God, in the highest.
Lord of mercy, both now and unto ages,
Concerned about the timing of celebrating a Russian composer in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Capps introduced the piece by saying: “Even as war and fear have come to their land, every morning, it’s not unlikely that Orthodox Ukrainian believers will reach for their prayer book, and recite the Morning Prayer, which contains these opening lines, Glory to Thee, God, Glory to Thee (three times). This morning, … (we) sing it in solidarity with our brothers and sisters and offer it as a prayer on their behalf.”
After worship, a doctor in our church, who had done medical missions work in Bulgaria years ago and still has close ties there, emailed the YouTube link of this musical offering to a lawyer friend in Sofia who works frequently in Ukraine on religious liberty issues. He sent it on to his besieged contacts in that country that was already under missile fire. Ukrainians were able to feel the comfort and prayers of people halfway across the globe within hours of the simple exercise of a Baptist church in worship.
Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” Therefore, we think globally, act locally.
The internet can be a cesspool of filth, but it can also be a conduit of grace. The Spirit has always carried prayers from place to people and people to people, but now and then we can feel the connection and see the effects of our care on those who need them most.