Thursday, June 11, 2009
The Preacher’s Corner
Technology comes with a price
What a help the telephone is to the preacher! Mine started ringing early today with the stuff of my daily concern. “Margaret is in the hospital.” “Prentis needs a projector for Vacation Bible School.”
Truth to tell, I do most of my work over the phone. What if, as with my predecessors here in the olden days, I had to saddle a horse or write letters in long hand for every communication that needed to be made?
Except for the efficiency of my late afternoon visits to the Big Star, where in the course of several days I can usually catch up with just about all of my members, the telephone is my biggest helper in ministry.
Even the transients and panhandlers feel free to phone me at home (how they find my number I am not quite sure), but I know that Jesus would have me dispense kindness on our church’s behalf, and so that charitable effort, to the extent of my ability, I am happy to make.
Mary Doxey told me that when her father was minister here (1926-1934), he never had a car. He would walk to all his calls, and if he needed to visit out in the country, he would rent a buggy. That, along with the fact that Dr. Bitzer shoveled coal into the church’s furnace late on Saturday nights, makes me appreciate the relief that modern conveniences give!
All of you know that I like to make fun of our ubiquitous cell phones. It seems like people cannot shop at Wal-Mart or drive their cars without a telephone in one hand and a slushy drink in the other. I should talk. I seldom watch TV without simultaneously typing on my computer. I expect it means I do not do either one well. I have a strictly one-track mind. I almost forgot a wedding once because I was so focused on my computer.
Then there is the whole matter of e-mail. I am so hooked on it that I am distressed if there is not a new message every hour; and if somebody does not reply to one I send right away, I grumble to myself about how careless and inattentive they are.
Of course, these are great conveniences. Mark Miller told me yesterday how, when he was a counselor at our summer church camp in his college days (that was back in the Stone Age, for those of you who don’t know Mark), a truck full of ice cream he was driving out to camp from Oxford ran out of gas on the Hopewell Road, out there in the blazing sun. A cell phone would have been real handy then but, of course, nobody but Dick Tracy had modes of communication so advanced back then. (The old green truck was a gift to the camp from a church member in Greenville who had a dealership. Its gas gauge was inoperative, which may have been the reason it was a gift!)
But even gas gauges are a modern convenience, which remind us that all helpful technology comes with a price. When the oxen that pulled your wagon got hungry after eight or ten miles, all you had to do was find a grassy place and let them graze for awhile.
Now, what with tweets, texts, and twitter, there is no telling what is going on in my pews on Sunday. I try to comfort myself that those with the little devices in their hands are listening actively, taking careful notes on all the spiritual nuggets I dispense. But I flatter myself.
The situation is probably like the note I found penciled on a bulletin when I was tidying up the pews sometime back. It read: “Well, where shall we eat this Sunday: Annie’s or the City Café?”
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