Crowd source your Lenten discipline on Facebook? We used to do it in the parking lot after church. “Are you going to give up something for Lent?” “We Protestants don’t have to, you know.” “I like the idea of doing something, what should I do?” “I’m going to give up my brother for Lent.” (That last one is a joke from my husband’s childhood, of course!).
For the past month, we’ve been asking New Media Project followers to share topic ideas for our new blog format. Via Facebook, we collected recommendations to cover topics such as: leadership and digital religion; how “spiritual but not religious” might function on various social media platforms; lay ministry and new media; prayer on social media; digitally-integrated incarnation; bridging the gap between social media users and non-users; pastoral care on Facebook; new media and new ecclesiologies; education and life-long learning; preaching; how new media leads to new skills; how a new awareness of the world through social media might become mindfulness; and beauty and celebration; among others.
Next week we’ll launch the new format with an initial six-week Lenten series on prayer and social media. We hope it will be a helpful Lenten discipline. Writers will consider the theology and practice of prayer in relation to new media from the perspective of various traditions. We’ll connect to and expand upon our earlier writing on prayer, and we’ll offer some hands-on ideas for using social media to explore and practice prayer.
Prayer happens in so many different ways. Some of us will walk up the aisle today and receive ashes on our forehead along with a blessing to remember that as earthen creatures we are God’s and to God we shall return. Some of us will avoid meat on Fridays or chocolate every day during Lent to be physically reminded of our connectedness, our dependence upon God and each other. Some of us will open the day with a prayer of thanks and sing psalms and praise. Others will read the daily office, or do lectio divina. Some will close the day with intercessions for friends who are ill. Others will pray for them via Facebook status updates. Some may post a photo-a-day based on a selected word for Lent. Some may post a prayer Tweet a day to share with others. Others will pray over the bible lesson for the day with their mother.
May God bless you during this season of prayer.
Verity A. Jones is the executive director of the Center for Pastoral Excellence at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, and project director of the New Media Project which is now part of this new Center.
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