Scripture: 2 John 1:12 CEB “I have a lot to tell you. I don’t want to use paper and ink, but I hope to visit you and talk with you face-to-face, so that our joy can be complete.” You have seen it as you drive through town. You may even be guilty of this offense. You have seen the effects of this epidemic in restaurants, in shopping malls, stores, and even in our homes. It is an epidemic that seems to be growing and very little is being done to counteract its progression or effects. It is an epidemic that can have fatal consequences. Most certainly, the effects are felt in homes and in relationships. What is this epidemic? I’m glad you asked. It seems that we are seeing an epidemic of digital overload. You’ve seen those who cannot put down their phone long enough to drive from one place to the next. We wait behind them at traffic lights long after the light has turned green. We swerve to avoid them as they try to drive and text, email, check social media, or watch Netflix. Maybe you have even been that person. But it’s not just when we are driving. It seems to be increasingly harder to put the phone down. We see it all the time where people are together or in a crowd and their face is buried in their phone. It has reached epidemic proportions. The New Testament is all about connection. God longed to be connected to us in relationship. So much so that God gave Jesus, the one and only Son. Through Jesus Christ we are connected with God in ways that we never could have been. We are urged by Jesus to love each other and to remain intimate with Christ. We are encouraged to meet together regularly in the temple courts (church worship) and house to house. This sense of connection is very purposeful. We are created for connection. Yet, in our current context, we are losing this sense of connection. We are more connected digitally than ever before and far less connected relationally. The writer of 2 John is concerned that this connectedness with the letters recipient be maintained. The author says, “I have a lot to tell you. I don’t want to use paper and ink, but I hope to visit you and talk with you face-to-face, so that our joy can be complete.” It is important to the author, and I believe should be to us, to meet face to face and not rely on paper and ink. I believe in our context the author might have written it this way, “I have so much to tell you. I don’t want to text you though using two thumbs and a tiny keyboard. I would really love to tell you in person so we could see the joy in each other’s face.” We must guard and protect the art of meeting in person- to look in someone else’s eyes and see their reaction (not just using emojis). This is how our joy will be complete. We were created for connection. Today make time for a face-to-face conversation with someone you love. Not just about who will take out the trash or if all the homework is done. Seek to connect with someone. Look into their eyes (not creepily). Share the gift of time and connection. Express how much you love them and let them do the same for you. This is what you were created to do and what will bring you joy. Of course, if you are already doing this well then work toward mentoring others in this art. There is no time like now to remember to stay connected at a deeper level. Prayer: God of love, you are the perfect example of relationship- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Guide me through your Holy Spirit to be more intentionally connected to you, to my spouse, to my family, to my coworkers, and to everyone today. Empower me to take joy in all of the people to which you have connected me. I will give you all the honor and glory and praise in Jesus’ name. Amen.