Hope, Grace & Ramona
When I was designated as one of the administrators of our church’s Facebook page, I began to live in fear that I might one day post something meant for my personal wall on the church page. When I joined Twitter, I downloaded a complicated third party app for my personal account so that there would be no chance of an accidental cross-post. Separate accounts called for separate programs in my opinion.
As any Millennial or Gen Xer can tell you, posting from the wrong social media account can get you fired. Depending on the content, it might end your career all together.
Last week, an editor from NPR named Christopher Dean Hopkins wrote a cute Facebook post about his toddler daughter, Ramona, and how much she loved cats on his personal account.
But he goofed. He didn’t post it on his personal account…
And a few minutes later, he realized that NPR’s 6 million Facebook followers had been privy to his cute parenting anecdote. I can only imagine the fear, denial, and panic-induced stomach cramps that Mr. Hopkins must have experienced in that moment of realization. He quickly edited the post with an apology.
NPR’s followers responded.
“Can we receive regular Ramona updates from now on?”
“This is the best thing on my newsfeed all day.”
“Bring back Ramona!!”
“Someone buy that sweet baby a kitten!”
The topics #ramonaupdates, #bringbackramona, and #ramonaforever started trending on other social media platforms and for a couple of hours it seemed like the whole world was talking about a sweet little girl and her enthusiasm for felines.
When the world shows grace it can be a beautiful thing.
Hope springs from grace.
We can learn something very important from this cute story. Too often we try to keep a wall between who we are and who the world thinks we are. We want the world to think we are perfect, effortless, unwavering, and unquestioning.
This is a big problem for the church. True community can only exist when we share our authentic selves. We’ve all known people who shied away from church because they thought there was something about them that would make them fundamentally unwelcome. Some folks are embarrassed about their past, their financial circumstances, or their lack of education. Some are afraid to join a church because they’re too new to the faith; they don’t know “enough.” But all of that is false. The church belongs to God. This is God’s house, and all are welcome.
Of course that means WE, in turn, have to be more welcoming. We need to invite others and greet them enthusiastically. We should strive to accept others as they are, not try to mold them into what we believe a “Christian” or a “Presbyterian” should look like or act.
We need to show grace when others make mistakes ‒ even enjoy the bright side of each other’s goofs. Grace leads to hope. Hope for the church, hope for relationship, and hope for the world.
God loves us so much. Let’s love each other a little bit more.
Thanks be to God. #LongLiveRamona
You can read an article, detailing this precious snafu, on NPR's website.
Rev. Kelly Staples is Associate Pastor and Director of Youth Ministries for NorthPark Presbyterian. She grew up a member of First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport, received her Bachelor's degree from Middle Tennessee State University, and her Masters of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.