Commentary: Cell Phones Integrated Into Easter Service
Churches will be busier than usual on Easter. Rev. Gus Succop says the larger crowds mean there's a greater likelihood of being interrupted by a cell phone. Yes, it's annyoing, but he's come to learn the interruptions also provide a teachable moment. The Message and the Medium With the approach of Easter and other High Holy Days, I am reminded that many first-time visitors will be finding their way into our sanctuaries and pews, and along with them will come their cell phones. By now, having a cell phone go off during a worship service is old hat. It's happened more than once, and it will happen many more times to come. Matter of fact, it seems that without the muffled sound of a Jimmy Buffett ring tone going off in some jacket or purse Sunday worship almost seems incomplete. I used to think cell phones going off in worship were disruptive, and to a point they are. But, there have been times when I have incorporated the rogue cell phone into my message, and thankfully it resulted in a teachable moment. I haven't figured it out completely, but my experience is that there are more cell phones on the loose at Easter than any other time of the church year. As such I have sought to capitalize on those apparent interruptions. One Easter, I was telling the congregation about being almost a Christian, how certain temptations and interruptions get in the way of a total faith commitment. Just then, a cell phone went off. Muffled laughter followed, until I added, "See what I mean!" After worship, I was commended for coordinating such an ingenious illustration. On another Easter morning, I wrapped up my sermon by reminding the people that God always has the first and last word. As I was about to pronounce the Benediction, someone's cell phone came to life. It was an awkward moment to what had been an inspiring worship service. Nonetheless, when the ring tone was shut off, I let it be known that "Life is full of exceptions, and today the last word is mine," and with that the Benediction was given and heard. I was taught in seminary to lead worship with authority but with a humble heart. Knowing that a rogue cell phone might be lurking somewhere out there in pew-land causes me not only to be humble; it demands that I be extremely creative. There is a part of me that wants to have the passing of the cell phone in addition to the passing of the peace, but until we get to that point, I will continue to work the unexpected and unwelcomed and unwanted rogue cell phone into the message. For, to paraphrase one astute observer of life, the Message trumps the medium.