A few insights from Pokemon Go!


The exhortations in the picture sounded like Jesus. It seemed like the divine, to which nothing is a limitation, was bursting forth through the game screen. It was foolish of me to attempt the game on 2G but that’s what turned my attention to the message on the screen that had the plausible resemblance to a Bible message. Another look at the screen made it seem straightout of the Book of Revelation, which gave me a smile. Pokémon Go was now kindling my imagination.

Alas! Three Bible verses popped up in my head as I stared at the note on the screen: 

Luke 12:46a The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 

1 Peter  5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
The first talks about the return of Christ of which we know nothing of the day and the hour. We are simply asked to be prepared. There simply is no time to mess around and we have no business doing so! Keeping our act together, living according to the guidance of God through the Word, worship and fellowship, was paramount, lest we fall into the clutches of sin and darkness.The  second verse warns us from taking things lightly all the time, making us aware of the dangers we could fall into. We are hearing reports of people who endangered their lives chasing Pokemons and even crossing international borders, gravely violating rules without realizing. 

The third verse that came to me was :

Matthew 26:10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

How beautiful! Jesus was aware of the deepest longings of the woman who was anointing him. He saw through the daring of a potentially shameless woman who was being despised for being present too near him;  for crossing the Jewish line of etiquette and  socio-spatial gender boundaries. Why would she do that?

Let’s consult ourselves first. We chase Pokemon for fun, right? Are you sure? What’s in a game that seeks to catch creatures that are not there physically yet exist on the screens and the technology mediated world of virtual reality? Surely, it’s more than fun. There’s a sense of achievement. The Pokemon we caught which others haven’t  enhances our sense of uniqueness.  Everyone wants to feel special – and appreciated. We all want our moment when we are accepted, acknowledged and asked for. 

In gathering together at the gyms and other public places, defending our Pokemon’s, we seek community. We all want to know that we are not alone. If we are too proud to ask the company of others, we can form communities (that may or may not last),” accidentally, through these defensive alliances. Yes, we want relationship. We are a different person,without them. We seek proximity and interaction, we seek protection and care. And we go after Pokemon. We live, move and have our being in a broken world that chases after… Pokémons. 

Jesus is aware of what we seek. He asks us to be aware of what our neighbour seeks. Just as he was. Aware of her  deepest longings, Jesus tells speaks on behalf of her, calling her act, beautiful. Despite her brokenness, the woman knew where to go. Do we know where to go with our brokeness? Which way do we guide the broken people around us, especially the ones who come our way?

So the two injunctions that appear as Pokémon Go loads have deep meaning for anyone who seeks a meaningful life – one that we can truly call LIFE. In short, the Truth – that which is real, which is actual. No floss. 

And there is one who said “I am … the Truth.” Leonard Sweet tells us that in Christian faith the Truth is not a statement, law or method; it is a person.

If Pokémon symbolizes that ultimate thing we are searching for inorder to satisfy us, then, Jesus is the ultimate Pokémon. May our search for Pokémon lead us to the Truth who is none but Jesus.

He is waiting to embrace you when you find him.

Good enough to divine

(I wrote this on my facebook page and thought it should be part of my blog as well.)

The message that we are ‘never good enough’ floods our minds through the media, advertisements as well as work/peer/popular culture. It’s so powerful  that it’s a constant battle within oneself to accept and acknowledge that one is created with perfection, potential and for a special purpose; that one is capable of making one’s own as wells as others’ life meaningful.

Even pastors go through this struggle and find themselves in the presence of God with these thoughts.

We need to resist all the negativity, starting from ourselves. We must strip away the plastered walls of our hearts and minds of external powers  surrounding us as they attempt to
label us, to contain us, to disfigure our conscience, to maim our limbs of agency, to push us, into depression and hopelessness.

We need to place ourselves in a different story than the negative, market- engineered, media hyped, ad-varnished, seemingly permanent ones told to us by the world around us. That’s not our story, as real as it looks.

We are part of a divine, more human story. We matter. We are special. We are capable of helping people realise that they are special. We are rescuers of those whose “specialness” is tarnished by the world around us. We have a purpose. Yes, we make mistakes, but we can turn around correct them and resolve not to repeat. We are not meant to break down, but to hold one another close, in each other’s ups and downs. You are not just good enough, you can be … divine.

Mat,
Feast of Ascension.

My life be like… ooo aaa ooo – Part 2

Continuing from Part 1 ( of course) :

…talking about habits worth emulating!

Part-1 can be found  here.

( Picture courtesy:  http://dumbbellsanddragons.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/whatwerepeatedlydo-@allielefevere.jpg  )

 

Continuing…

2. Prefer phone calls to messages. Reminders can be text messages and email.

3. Advance planning and concretizing.

Rev. Shaji Thomas, whom I worked with for their parish camp,in Bangalore,  shared with me how he goes about his pastoral ministry. He plan many months in advance and brings out a list/brochure/ colourful something. Colourful somethings look great and people want a copy of them. Most important – you have sat down, planned and made the effort to route the way the year should go.

4. Contribute to your relationship through occasional phone calls like Kunjumon Uncle. He calls every Monday morning. Even if you aren’t that regular, call once in a while. For that you need to have a list of people to be in touch with.

5. Email/ phone/ text people at major occasions such as Christmas. It is a meaningful gesture. Especially people who hosted your stay, blessed you by driving you to the railway or bus station/airport, etc. Keep a separate list of such peoples’ phone number/ email address and note it down in Google Keep or Evernote under the title- ‘indebted’. If one has such a crunch of time, one may pre-set customized messages and schedule their sending time.

6. Post- programme ,   the next day or so, give a call to express gratitude and appreciate the way they handled the events. Positive comments on their hospitality means a lot to the organizers. I know, because I have been there.

7. Keep envelopes, stamps and notepads ready to write to people words of gratitude, wish them on special occasions, “ we remember you” notes. People still feel special when they receive a handwritten note. If you are creative, you can add a tad bit of art as well on the page. I can do so since my wife is gifted that way and enjoys that.

8. Write short devotions daily, like Saji Thomas achen and Jijo Varghese achen. Their discipline is worth emulating. Anyday! Prince Varghese achen’s audio devotions are similar disciplined efforts, which requires saying things precise and recording it without a glitch. His ability to speak clearly without ‘hmm’ and ‘uhhh’ and to have a  meaningful illustrations embedded in those precise devotions are really impactful. I hope to be there someday – not to be known for doing them – but just to get myself to be that disciplined. It’s something worth striving for.

So here they are! I am about to start practicing these. Slow and steady. One day at a time.

Do you see things in people that are worth emulating? Then share them here! Thanks.

My life be like… ooo aaa ooo – Part 1

There are some definitive changes I wish to bring about in my life, today on. Actually, yesterday on, since I made the list last evening.

I have been observing pastors and trying to emulate some of their good qualities. Having seen pastors of all shapes and sizes all my life, the realization that I have a long way to go dawns, not infrequently. It is a good thing, I take it. So here are some things with respect specifically to communication I have been a resource person to many camps, sessions, retreats, etc. like never before in my life (more about those humbling experiences in another post) and you have to communicate with the organizers  before and after the programme. I think I have not been doing that well. What makes me say so? Because the way some pastors went about it made me feel dignified, appreciated and made me think, “ hmm… that is a good way of doing things.”

So this is a list of pastoral qualities I observed in pastors around me which I would like to emulate, with immediate effect (That sounds more like a statement issued by an authority…hmm….). The list includes some non-pastors as well.

1. Be like Rev. Abey when it comes to pre-programme calls and follow up.

When he is in charge of a programme, expect calls well in advance to inform you about the event, its specifics, etc. He will discuss it with you over the days and seek your opinion and by the time the ministry begins, you have a tab on what’s going to happen and you are well prepared. 

He will inform you of the requirements and ask you what you might need. Changes in the plan are promptly informed. 

A reminder, a programme-eve check and a post-programme appreciation call is part of his approach. Looks good to me.

You value your resource person this way and forge a new relationship with that person. If I were an organizer of something I would do that.

(Continued in the next post…)

Keep writing

For the first time I received an email by someone who read my blog. It was wonderful to hear that the person had been moved to ask me some questions.

One of the things I learnt last year in ministry is to avoid evaluating oneself with tangible results. One must not chase tangible results, it can be very disappointing.

Moreover you never know whose life you touched. Sometimes you get to know later, most of the time you just don’t. The most important thing is to do faithfully what God has entrusted you with.

Of course, the moment you hear from someone who was blessed by what you shared, spoke, sang, sketched,
rapped, forwarded or wrote, is indeed a sweet one. It encourages you to continue.

But just don’t depend on it. You do what you have got to do. Let God do what He will, and just trust Him.

Thanks for writing in friend!

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