Plugging In

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To listen to this reflection as a podcast, click here.
When it comes to new technology, I’m not what you might call an early adopter.
About 30 years ago the church that I was serving invested heavily in a new computer system.  It was time to say goodbye to our typewriters. 
I resisted.
After all, I could out-type anyone on the staff.  My mom, a lifelong administrative assistant, had taught me how to use a typewriter when I was in the third grade.  That explains why to this day I still hit the keys on my keyboard with needless force, much to the alarm of my kids.  I’m still trying to make those keys type.
I figured I could hang on to my mid-20th century technological savvy for at least a couple more years.
The rest of the staff, however, began to drop subtle hints to the contrary.  Someone bored a hole through my office wall and inserted a computer cable.  Staff members let me know that my stubbornness was beginning to hold back their own progress.  One day I arrived in the office and discovered that someone had picked up my beloved typewriter and put it on the floor in the corner.
Sitting on my desk was my brand-new computer, which I hadn’t tried to use even once. 
The age of word processing was at hand.  What did I need to do?  I needed to repent.
“Repent” means to head in a new direction.  The Greek word metanoia literally means “change-mind.” I had to do a 180.  Revise my plans.  Reinvent the way I was approaching life based on the availability of an exciting new opportunity.
According to the Gospels, as we noted yesterday, the nearness of the kingdom and the consequent need for repentance were the opening salvo of Jesus’ teaching ministry: “Change your minds about everything, for the reign of God is within easy reach” (Matthew 4:17).
During the 1930s, when the REMC brought electricity for the first time to America’s farmlands, things weren’t transformed overnight. 
Farmers could see the wires strung between utility poles that now lined the roads alongside their property.  But for a long time their cows were still milked by hand, and lanterns still illuminated farm kitchens at night.
All the power they could imagine was within sight.  Within easy reach.  But until they repented of the day-to-day practices of the generations which had preceded them – and actually hooked up to the new lines – nothing would change.
Likewise, until I took advantage of the cable coming into my office and booted up my computer, digital power had no impact on my life.  I needed to surrender to a new and better way of doing almost everything connected with my work.
“Start thinking a whole new way, for the reign of God has come to your street.”  That is Jesus’ exciting announcement.
But of course instead of simply celebrating the fact that the kingdom has arrived, we have to “plug in.”  How does that happen?  We start living as if the kingdom is real
Talk to God.  Take a prayerful stance in every situation.  Ask for the grace to forgive someone who has run roughshod over your feelings.  Give away some of your money as a way of declaring that your bank account is no longer your source of security.  Encourage someone who is feeling down.  Advocate for someone who has been treated unfairly. Thank God for inventing the colors of fall, and for giving us eyes to see them.  
Those are the doorways to kingdom living. 
Wonderful things happen when, through simple acts of trust, we plug into the Spirit’s power and hit the “On” switch.