"Digital Posers" by Vicar A.J. Houseman
*sorry I messed up the recording this week! You will have to read!
So earlier this week, Carley and I were reflecting on these shoes that we each had. Skater shoes. In the early 2000s, skater culture was in. The first Tony Hawk video game was released in 1999 and new skate parks were going in all over the country. My personal favorite, in 1998 the Disney Channel original movie, “Brink!” was released. It's about a skating team of teens and one of them “sells out” because he needs money and wants to be sponsored. It's really great. It is available on Disney Plus. And then in 2002, Avril Lavigne released the song “Sk8er Boi”. (side note, it's actually her birthday today. Happy Birthday Avril!)
So we had each gotten into skater culture. The clothes and the shoes. I had a pair of skater Etnies that were green and white and Carley had a pair that were purple and black. Here was the thing though, it was super super uncool to be a “poser”. Someone who pretends to be something but doesn’t actually do it. I told Carley, I tried the skating thing. I could do more than zero tricks, but less than 2. Carley was like, I hung out at the skate park.
We didn’t quite walk the walk and talk the talk of a professional skater. Like many kids of the day, we were tiny posers. When you are growing up there’s a fine line between finding out who you are and being that person. Theres a delicate balance between being your authentic self and falling into the crowd.
In the early 2000s, Facebook wasn’t a thing yet, MySpace was barely a thing. So in order to express that we were skater people, you had to put on the shoes right?
Today, the digital world makes this so much easier to say that you are something. To say that you are for something, that you believe something, that you like something. How easy is it to click that like button? Or the share button? But then what do you do?
There are a lot of people that share articles about causes on Facebook, that give impassioned speeches on Twitter, and have made me think like wow, “these people are great advocates, and I am definitely not doing enough.” Or “these people are super informed and participate in so much for justice and rights, and I am like way behind on my justice posts.”
But then, that’s just it. It's a post. The digital world makes it really easy to be a “poser”.
Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, makes his way to the temple, and is outraged at what he sees. The thing that people are doing in this sacred space. How God’s work is not being done, but rather how sales are being made in God’s name. (This is not the last time that will happen. “Cough, cough”, Luther’s reason for a reformation.) And Jesus calls them out on it. All of it. In a way that only Jesus does, he tells them another parable.
It’s a pretty straight forward parable, theres the son that says he’s going to do the work, then doesn’t. Then there’s the son that does the work, even though he said he wasn’t going to. Which is doing the work of God?
Even the disciples get it right away. Like Jesus doesn’t even have to explain it to them, which is like a first. It's that simple. Obvi, the one that is actually doing the work. Jesus is basically like, “do all the talking you want, but you gotta put your money where your mouth is, you’ve got to show up, and you’ve got to actually do the work.”
Don’t be a poser.
Now I’m not saying that awareness is not needed. I’m not saying its not good to share articles about sensitive topics and issues of justice that need to be addressed. This awareness is necessary in the work for justice. But, you can’t stop there.
It’s the difference between sharing a donation link to the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and then not actually donating. It’s the difference between posting elaborately about how Black Lives Matter and never going to a protest or calling a legislator. It's the difference between sharing about the statistics of drug use and homelessness in your community and never opening a Sharing Supper or a Clothing Closet to actually do the work. The difference of doing the work!
Advocate. Speak out against injustices. Share awareness of the needs of God’s work in our community. But don’t stop there. Do the work.
The ELCA’s tagline is “God’s Work, our hands.” Yes, let us go out with our hands and our feet to care for God’s people and the world that God created for us.
What would that look like to you? What are the ways that you do God’s work?
Jesus continually calls people out for being a poser. It is one of his spiritual gifts. But it’s not that Jesus is mean, or wants to put people on the spot. It’s a deep love for us and creation that he does this. Because it takes all of us to care for one another. It takes all of us to actually make changes to stand up for injustices. It takes all of us. To do the work of God. To care for our neighbors, our community, the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized.
Don’t just buy the shoes and be a poser. Let’s do God’s work together. Amen.
For Fun ;) and Happy Birthday Avril Lavigne!