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24 Questions for Advent: Seventeen

The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

- Mr. Keating, played by Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society

Everyone wants to make a difference. We all need affirmation and appreciation. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of wanting attention, and lots of it.

Every psychopath gets his own magazine these days.

Bruce Cockburn, See How I Miss You

I was watching the movie The Social Network again last night. The genius of Mark Zuckerberg in creating Facebook was in giving people control over who would be let into their circle, and whose circles they could be let in on. Previous social media sites, like MySpace, allowed individuals to post their own personal website pages. But Facebook brought in the human need to be exclusive, to be part of what and who were “cool.” (I watched an interview of Zuckerberg years ago, and was struck about how often a multi-billionaire still used the word “cool.”)

I joined Facebook years ago and was immediately blessed by the ability to reconnect with people whom I had lost touch with years before. It was also great to see pictures and read about what people were doing in their lives. It gave me a chance to express myself when and how I saw fit---a great gift to us introverts. No more of the awkward social small talk. I could say what I wanted, show pictures and links and thoughtful content and others in my “circle” (or their connections) could peruse and interact with me as they saw fit.

But one begins to notice how much the need for affirmation and appreciation gets confused with the want for attention. The addition of Twitter and the advent of hashtags gave us more ways to monitor how much attention we are getting. The greater connection, which can be a wonderful thing, comes paired with the temptation of comparison, which can lead to despair.

God’s story---the “powerful play”---is a different tale. In it, we are each invited to contribute a verse. Something unique. It would be wonderful if every person in this world received attention for their contribution. We all know the world doesn’t work that way. We can at least hope that every person will receive affirmation and appreciation from those close to them. But sometimes even that isn’t what happens. Sometimes we have to take it on faith. God notices. God affirms. God appreciates.

God also knows that we need to receive it from each other. We were not created in a vacuum. We were created in and for community. The task that He gives community is to recognize, affirm and appreciate what each member gives.

But God designed the body in such a way that greater significance is given to the seemingly insignificant part. That way there should be no division in the body; instead, all the parts mutually depend on and care for one another. If one part is suffering, then all the members suffer alongside it. If one member is honored, then all the members celebrate alongside it. You are the body of the Anointed, the Liberating King; each and every one of you is a vital member.

I Corinthians 12:24-27, The Voice

This is what I dream for the Church here on earth. That we would live and act in such a way that each member would be awash in affirmation and appreciation. That each person will experience, in a hundred different ways, on a thousand different days:

What will your verse be?

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