Sunday, September 4, 2011
Reflection: Why I Don't Tweet in Church
For the past week, I’ve been thinking about our online conversation about tweeting during worship. Which is odd, given that I wasn’t very interested in it.
I don’t mind if people tweet in church. I know people write notes in church; some are making grocery lists and maybe texting their friends. I know children shuffle around and talk.
I agree education is important. Folks do need to hear that however one wants to take notes is ok, that there are different learning styles. And that tweeting a service may deliver a message that someone out there needs to hear.
So why have I continued revisiting this topic in my head?
I've realized the seminary connection people were making was awry for me. In seminary, or any classes, I, too, I took copious notes to help me focus. During worship, though, I am not learning content. Instead, I’m standing, sitting, kneeling, singing (lots of singing!), smelling, tasting. And I’m making connections, personal and visual, intellectual and spiritual, by letting things play with each other.
In one church I serve, my seat faces the stained glass Jesus on the cross -- and I hear the sermon with that image in front of me. Or, I look at the other windows and think about their stories or notice the details of folds in Mary’s veil, of shepherds’ knees, of Gabriel’s wing feathers. I hear the Gospel being read, aware of how candlelight glints off the brass cross. I see the self-conscious acolytes with their just-this-side-of-authorized shoes trying to avoid setting their bangs on fire.
I’m looking at, yes, the backs of people’s heads. Newlyweds with theirs tilted toward one another just so, a mother exchanging glances with her child, a son escaping his father’s attempted arm-around-the-shoulder move. I take note of the person just back from his mother’s funeral, the hunched shoulders of the distressed, the drooping head of the silent weeper, the hair-flipping of the teenager. I look at all these people who are my community and I’m loving them.
And I’m listening, maybe attentively, maybe less so, to the scripture and to the sermon and to the words of the hymns and thrilling, or not, to the tunes, all of which are available in writing for my review, if I wish.
Mostly, though, I want to let all those things and sensations sweep over me, to mingle in my mind and in my body and in my soul. I’m engaging experience, not material.
Does this mean content doesn’t matter? By no means, but that’s not where I am in my spiritual life right now. I read and go to classes for content, but during worship I’m doing something else.