Tuesday, June 20, 2017

First Lines: Cell Phones
by Rev. Griff Martin
June 20, 2017 

Will you allow me to rant for a little bit?

I am tired of cell phones. I am tired of being “available” and “on” all the time. I am tired of carrying around this object that is supposed to better connect me with the world but instead continually disconnects me from the world. I am tired of looking around restaurants and seeing tables full of people who are not looking at one another but are looking at their cell phones. I am tired of the *dings* that alert me that I have a new email or text message. I am tired of reading emails that are more reactive than compassionate – emails that could have been seasoned with grace if only sent a day later and not in the moment. I am tired of having a GPS system that continually makes me the center of the world (our new maps literally revolve around us). I am tired of being part of pastoral conversations that include how to use cell phones in worship, or if our students should bring them to camp.

And I have the feeling that I am not the only one feeling this way.

Study after study tells us that our cell phones really might be harming us more than helping us, and psychology is getting to a point where cell phone addiction is a very real thing (how sad is that?).

A recent article in Time Magazine talked about cell phones in the office and stated that obviously cell phones make us feel like we are on the job all the time, and this is actually decreasing our efficiency at work and increasing our stress level. That is not surprising to anyone. However, what did surprise me in the article was this fact: “the mere presence of a cell phone makes people trust one another less; it even makes them like one another less than if a cell phone were not present.”

And church, the good news is that we have the solution to the cell phone addiction that is gripping our world and it’s as old as time…. Sabbath. It’s a day where we are supposed to put off work and instead focus only on delight. It’s a day we are supposed to be filled and not emptied. It’s a day where we can put our cell phones away, be offline for a day and not worry that the world will end.

It’s June, the start of summer, which is supposed to be our slow and lazy season. What if we all covenanted together to practice Sabbath, whatever that means to you? Maybe a day, or just an evening each week, or at the very least each time you sit down to eat a meal. What if we promised that we would turn our cell phones off and put them out of sight, and instead of getting lost in the little screen in front of us we got lost in the big world right around us? My hunch is that if we practice Sabbath like this, there is a good chance that we might find life anew.

So this is one of your pastors telling you, don’t expect to get emails and texts from me on Saturdays this summer, because we all deserve better than that. In the words of Barbara Brown Taylor, “Since I do not expect on my deathbed, to wish that I had spent more time in front of a screen, I am doing my best to limit the time I spend in front of one now.”

Grace and peace.



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