From the Desktop of the Pastor – Week of the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany

Hi everyone,

One thing that I’ve really been enjoying about this pandemic is the aspect of working from home. The work flow is a bit different and some parts are much less efficient but then there are other parts that are more efficient, but above all, the commute is a lot easier and faster (considering my commute was only about 10 minutes one way before) and I find that I get to see our kids a lot more.

This gives us more time to hang out, to chat, and of course, to play video games together.

Although, you wouldn’t know it with how much time they spend in the settings of almost any game that we play. It could be that they’re changing a character, or changing the look of the character, or even just changing the name of the character. I don’t know why it takes them so long to decide… but it does. It really, really, does.

But the most frustrating part is that changing any of that usually doesn’t affect the gameplay at all. Changing character might, depending on the game, but usually the different colours or clothes they wear and certainly their name changes absolutely nothing in the game other than the look of the character. They are just as fast and strong and have the same skill set as before the change. They are the same exact character aside from a few different letters in their name and a different colour hat or something.

Yet these kids still need to change it. Like after every single round, even. They claim it helps them play better. Actually, I’d argue that playing better would help them play better. And they can play better if they don’t use so much time changing these settings so much. Oh the irony!

Here are the readings for next week:
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm 62:5-12
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20

So after reading these texts, I’m starting to think that maybe our kids were onto something about changing their characters in our video games so often. Well, maybe not in the frequency of changing, but in the idea of needing to change at all. These texts (although not talking about video games per se) seem to be talking about identity and the role it plays in our perception of others and ourselves.

Jonah didn’t want to go to the Ninevites because they are identified as an enemy to the Jews. Paul speaks about how big identifying markers change who we are and how we act. And Jesus calls his disciples to change just one aspect of their vocation and their lives are changed forever.

In this I see how important identity actually is. Even if we aren’t actually changing our identity, the idea of change might be just what we need to tweak our paradigms just enough to see improvement, or enough to allow us to see a broader picture than what we saw before, or maybe just enough to understand someone else’s opinion a bit better.

I think that is what was happening with Jesus calling these disciples. He didn’t say that they won’t fish anymore, just what they’re fishing for will be different. They’re still fishers, but with a small change in their identity, their focus and goal changes drastically.

So maybe changing your game avatar will improve your gameplay (although I haven’t noticed a difference) in that if you like what you see then you try a bit harder, you believe in yourself more, and maybe you just have more fun in playing. Even if just one of those were true, then I’d say it’s worth it.

We can be identified as children of God. Believing it, however, is a different matter altogether. And I think if and when we do, it’ll be totally worth it.

Have a great week, everyone!

Photo by Lucas Santos on Unsplash

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