Standing there, staring at my phone, fingers typing away, a colleague interrupted me and said, “It’s an epidemic!”
Honestly, I had no idea what she was talking about.
And I’m sure the bewildered look on my face suggested my state of mind as she pointed across the room and continued, “Look! Any time we have an unscheduled moment, people immediately reach for their phones.”
Still not connecting the ‘epidemic’ with the use of phones, I said, “I understand what you’re getting at.”
She responded, “See, we are so addicted to being connected to our phones that we don’t even know we are disconnected from the people around us! I challenge us, for the rest of our breaks, to talk to two people before we pull out our phones.”
During this Advent season, I have taken this challenge from my colleague and am attempting not to immediately pull out my phone when I have a moment to connect with the world virtually, and instead connect with those right in front of me. I won’t lie to you; it’s really hard, especially when everyone else in the room is on their device!
As I’ve challenged myself, I’ve also been able to do a fair bit of reflecting on how and when I connect with people. One of the real learnings for me is how much I value worship. Specifically, how the liturgy connects me both to God and to my fellow worshipers.
Worship is for us the embodiment of God in Christ made known. It is the Incarnation, manifested in Word, sacrament, and in the body gathered. Worship connects us, at the very core of our being, to the Holy that resides deep within us and in all of God’s creation. And that connection is why you will see faces that you have not seen in a long time, or maybe never before, who are present for worship at this time of year. This is a really good thing. It is an affirmation that all of us long to be connected in real and holy ways. And what greater draw to such a connection than the Incarnation, the act of God entering into the world through the baby Jesus?
I have several apps on my phone that I use in some form or another for prayer, scriptural study, and reflection. I find these apps very helpful, but none of them, at the end of the day, replaces standing, kneeling, praying, and singing shoulder to shoulder with others in worship. Please encourage and invite your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers to join you for worship during this Advent and Christmas season. We’re all connected to one another and to the Incarnate God. Nothing makes that more clear than gathering together for worship during this season.
That’s probably why Jesus commanded us to love one another. Love is something we have to do to be who we are, to reconnect, to be realigned, to be in communion. (Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, ‘Becoming Who You Are,’ 2014)