We were at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Valparaiso today, and started the day with Morning Prayer. An outstanding youth handbell choir from St. Martin’s Lutheran Church, Archbold, OH played very complicated and technically difficult music for the prelude and postlude.
I was really interested in the large wall hanging behind the altar which was made entirely of felt. The church’s pastor told us the artist had made over three dozen hangings for the church, in different shapes, and that they were made entirely of felt and stuck to the brick walls without any other fasteners! At the stripping of the altar on Maundy Thursday, there was a “ripping sound” as the banner (not shown) is pulled away from the brick.
Today’s plenary session speaker at the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, was The Rev. Craig Mueller, who said his life was changed by his iPhone. I will show you the pictures he shared with us on how people’s lives have totally changed:
What was amazing was that he did his presentation WITHOUT PowerPoint, and instead gave people an old-fashioned handout. He admitted that people love their iPhones and iPads, and that even he has a meditation and a lectionary app on his phone. He wondered, then, if we are becoming Cyborgs and are so tied to our machines, checking our email and FaceBook updates in a constant stream. He asked, “What are we becoming in light of all these technological advances? Is our definition of being human changing?”
In less than a generation, we have merged with our machines — and there is no clear line between work and rest.
He wondered if our brains need some downtime. Is it too much to ask people to take a break from technology in the one hour that they are in church? Can worship still dazzle and enchant us, if it appeals to all our five senses? Can the Gospel be a countercultural message in our time, reminding us that our identity is in who we are, not in what we do to fill up every spare moment?
Okay — I finally got it! The theme of this conference, “God is Here: Worship in a Wireless World” is NOT about using technology in our worship service. It’s not about using video screens with the words of the lessons or the songs projected, eliminating hymnals and prayer books. In worship we are called to be countercultural — different from the ways of the world. That’s why at the opening Morning Prayer we sang music by just following the hand motions of a song leader, and didn’t have the words or the music in front of us. We had to just listen and repeat.