Advent Friendship Reflection, Day 10

After the resurrection, when Jesus' movement spread beyond Palestine to the urban centers of the Roman empire, it appears to have caught on first among people who were surprisingly mobile: traders, soldiers, missionaries, and other itinerants. The earliest communities were made up of these folks, who visited and traveled back and forth between large households in the urban centers, where the faith was taking hold among slaves, women, and other lower status folks. So from the earliest days, the Christian movement had considerable "bridging" social capital, comprising a network of believers who were internationally connected, a network that crossed ethnic, social status, wealth, guild, and other lines. Jesus' message of being a "friend to sinners and tax-collectors," must have appealed deeply to the misfits social isolates of the Roman world.

As we continue to reflect on and celebrate the Advent season with our families and friends, are there also ways we can look beyond our tight-knit home and friendship circles and find unexpected friends in unexpected places? Can social media, with its myriad interest groups, be a vehicle for connecting with folks we wouldn't ordinarily interact with? We have seen how social media can radicalize young, impressionable, and lonely men towards hate and violence. Are there ways that we can reach out to the social isolates of the digital age, meeting and greeting them with acts of friendship, community, and kindness?

Each day of advent, from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25, I plan to post a few thoughts on an aspect of friendship I learned while writing my book, Virtuous Friendship: The New Testament, Greco-Roman Friendship Language, and Contemporary Community, available on Amazon through this link. This will be a chance for me to share with you all a little bit from what I learned, while giving you, hopefully, a chance to take a deep breath during this busy season and do some reflection. Also, you won't have to secure another resource for Advent. I realize that you are all at many different places with regard to faith and belief, so use these reflections however you see fit. If you'd be interested in having me come speak at your church, lead a Bible Study, or even just Zoom or Skype in for a Q&A with a Sunday School class or other small group, let me know: doug.hume@pfeiffer.edu.

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