The general synod of the United Church of Christ was held last week. It was great to see people I have come to love, but I didn’t expect to meet so many people who read Liberating Word whom I had never met in person. A great number of people came by to talk to me about Bill. It was very touching and meaningful to know that you can connect with people on a profound level through social media. This must be true for all ages considering most of these new friends were over 40 or 50, and many are retired.
Several times since coming to Virginia-Highland Church, I’ve been out of town when someone’s parents or, more often, grandparents have died. I grew up thinking the pastor was supposed to go by the house and visit with the grieving. There is, of course, a lot about that model that has changed over the years, and pastors certainly don’t visit nearly as often in urban areas.
I have been surprised that people–especially the young people who make up much of our congregation–feel authentically cared for when people reach out to them on social media. I thought, at first, that this was a strange generational phenomenon, but this week made me realize that genuine ministry takes place in new ways.
All this means that you, too, have an entirely new set of ways to let people know you care, support them in their struggles, encourage them in their times of stress of distress. Nothing replaces face-to-face expressions of love, but I think we underestimate how much we can help others at a distance. I don’t know how I would have survived this past year if it hadn’t been for those who called, emailed, texted, Facebooked me, and relentlessly tried to support me almost every day. I am deeply grateful. Never doubt how much your love means, however it is expressed.
Rev. Michael Piazza