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A Pastor’s Reflections: Don’t Read E-mail on Sundays

January 22, 2013


Among the regular activities I have is reading my e-mail—I love mail in all forms. Like many, I am wired—I always have my e-mail up when I’m using my computer, I have a smart phone, and if I’m in the car, I’ll have my wife read me my e-mails while I’m driving. I like the thrill (yes, I know I’m odd) of wondering what will arrive—what mystery awaits as the computer chimes and a new message arrives. But on the other hand, I also learned that it was best, as difficult as it might be, to ignore e-mail on Sundays. Why, you ask?

From time to time I would receive an ill-timed e-mail on Sunday morning—someone was informing me of something I didn’t want to hear: a complaint about the church, an announcement that they were leaving the church, or something along those lines. Naturally I would be periodically distracted throughout the day while I was trying to worship and observe the Sabbath. Sometimes I would be in the middle of preaching a sermon and the annoying e-mail would come to mind. So I decided that if I received an e-mail related to church matters, I would leave it until Sunday evening after church or Monday morning.

While its true that we can’t completely isolate ourselves from everything around us on Sundays so we can focus upon Christ, there are certain measures we can take to ensure we aren’t distracted. I think with the exception of the worship service, often Sundays look like any other day. We play games, read books, watch television, turn on the ball game, surf the web, and we don’t make a diligent effort to engage in activities that promote the Lord’s Day, such as reading our Bibles, praying, fellowshipping with the saints, and engaging in works of mercy. I also think the whole issue of distraction is likely becoming a greater challenge in church, even in worship, as smart phones and tablets are making their way into our lives. People now bring their phones and tablets to worship because that’s where they have their Bibles. Ok, fair enough. But what about the e-mails, texts, tweets, and whatever other digital data that cascades into our lives in the middle of worship?

While we may never completely disentangle ourselves from the concerns and distractions of the day, we can certainly make an effort to minimize them. Like my avoidance of e-mails on Sunday, we can turn off, unhook, or disconnect from the digital world so that it doesn’t prove to be a hindrance to worship and observing the Lord’s Day. How can we feast upon the sumptuous meal of word and sacrament if we are nibbling upon the digital snacks that creep into our lives, even in worship? Everything else in this life pales in comparison to the satisfaction that Christ alone provides through the means of grace. The e-mail, tweets, facebook, and texts can wait.