Tech Savvy: Discovering God’s Will

This isn’t about judgment. This is about salvation.

Lent is one of the holiest seasons in our religion. It’s when we examine our life in the presence of God. It is an introspective season, before the outward burst of spring and Easter. It is a season of wisdom.

Every year at Mayflower we reflect on this question: What is killing us? What is killing our souls? And then: “What can save us?” One year it was about our relationship to hurry-sickness. Another year it was about our relationship to money. Last year we explored how we experience “the other” and being “the other.”

This year we are reflecting together as a community about our soul and tech / screens / smartphone / social media. Our assumption is that we are not in bondage to Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, YouTube, but rather that we get to choose for ourselves how to use this technology as a tool to enhance our lives.

For many of us it started like this (left), but now, for too many of us it’s like this (right).

Let’s get back to being like 2007.

Our touchstone this Lent is this marvelous scripture from Paul: Be not conformed to this world but rather be transformed by the renewal of your mind.

This Lent, let each one of us:

  • Commit to a spiritual practice of giving something up or limiting your use of tech and seeing how it feels. At the end of Lent, you can choose to stay with the practice, modify it, or go back to your usual way.
  • Worship every Sunday in Lent and leave your smart phone at home or in the car. Just be fully present to the church scene.
  • Practice the five-minute home ritual every day. Many do it at the table before supper.
  • Consider joining a Lenten small group for Bible study, reflection and community.
  • Consider coming to the half-hour Wednesday evening Taizé in the Chapel at 6:30 pm.

Here’s what we’re giving up for Lent: What about you?

I, Rev. Sarah Campbell, am pretty good at taking my day off and away from emails and screens. (Having a flip phone helps. So, does having a spouse with a smart phone so he can show me pictures of my grandchild.) But emails are driving my work day to a mind-numbing extent. This Lent, I will give up checking my emails constantly and instead practice checking them—and responding appropriately—just three times per day.

I, Rev. Howard Bell, find myself a bit obsessed with the use of my smart phone. I continue to add apps that I use primarily for work functions. I am grateful that this technology provides me the capacity to have access to my work files, the church’s database, and emails from home. In order to increase my awareness of the boundary between necessary use and obsession use, I will remove email notifications on my phone and home computer during Lent. Also, I have rarely found myself playing video games, but I am a bit compulsive about playing two games on my smart phone: Mahjong and Solitaire. I will abstain from playing these games during Lent.

I, Eli’jah Carroll (Director of Faith Formation), used to be a morning person. I would wake up before the sun, make coffee, pray, and meditate. Listening to the birds start their day was my greatest joy. Slowly over the years, the chirp of notifications has replaced the tweets of creatures outside my window. These days, I wake up and first thing I do is scroll through all the apps on my phone. Perhaps it has something to do with my night time ritual of playing games on my phone till I fall asleep. I have a sneaking suspicion that screens are zapping my joy of listening to great music and day dreaming before bed and waking up to the calm of dawn in the morning. During Lent, I am going to seek to find the joy in starting and ending each day again by giving up using my smart phone, or any screens first thing in the morning and for two hours before I go to bed each night. Instead, I will choose to read a book, magazine, or newspaper.