Friday, September 3, 2010

Blessing for your Blackberry, iPhone, netbook, etc.

ew083110technology.jpg Rev. Lisa Vaughn is inviting Blackberry addicts, iPhone worshippers and users of mobile phones and other technological gadgets to bring them in this weekend for a special blessing. “It’s not just about please don’t let my cellphone drop calls today,” says the pastor of the Anglican parish of St. Timothy, on the road to Peggy’s Cove, somewhat near Halifax, Nova Scotia. “It’s about, you know, help me to be the best Christian, the best person I can be in my conversations, in my communication.”

Vaughn is holding offering this decidedly contemporary blessing service this Sunday on the Labour Day weekend. "I think they traditionally used to call it Plough Monday, where people used to bring their farming equipment and tools to the church to be blessed," said Vaughan of St. Timothy’s Anglican Church in Hatchet Lake. "Most of us live with our cellphones and laptops and BlackBerrys and all that kind of stuff. I mean, those are just daily tools for us."

rev-lisa-vaughn-iphoneA youthful woman with short hair and a past career in journalism, she says her motto is don’t be boring. “The gospel message is as relevant as it gets,” Rev. Vaughn says. “How do we package it is the question. This message of Christ is the most important thing but the packaging needs to change.”

Vaughn recently read about a church in London, England, that expanded its blessings to modern workday devices. It struck a chord with her, not least because she’s quite the wired person herself. "We have three laptops and three tabletop computers in our house," she said. "I’m about to buy some kind of smartphone. I just haven’t decided what it’s going to be!" Vaughan also uses Facebook to connect with friends and her congregation, and she plans to open a Twitter account for St. Timothy’s.

facebook - Ken Symes She acknowledged the Internet has its share of problems and presents a side of the world that might seem incompatible with the church. "But I think it’s a wonderful tool," she said. "I think God is blessing it in all kinds of ways and we shouldn’t be afraid of it as Christians. We need to embrace it. That’s where a lot of our folks are — they’re emailing, they’re texting. And if that’s where they are, that’s where we should be."

The blessing itself will include the hope that we’re patient and kind in our communications with each other during the often hectic workday, Vaughn said. "And, as well, that it’s productive, that it’s life-giving, that it’s supportive to the community as a whole."

While the services are meant to be a fun way to celebrate Labour Day, there’s a serious spiritual point to be made, she said. "It’s also a reminder for people that God is present, not just one hour per week on a Sunday morning or evening. We make decisions every day about our work and our words, and in that we’re not alone."

This is a great idea! Think about the amount of time we spend on our Blackberrys, iPhones, netbooks and other gadgets. And how often do we misuse these devices, killing time on foolish things or look at thingsrev-lisa-vaughn-blessing-blackberry that we wouldn’t want everyone to know that we were viewing.  Prayer should intersect with our daily lives. So I say “Kudos to Rev. Lisa Vaughn.” Since you might not be able to make it to her Halifax-area church on Sunday, get your device now, hold it close to the screen, hit this link to a video of the blessing and bow your head (and after the commercial, you will be blessed). God bless you and your device.

*This blog posting is a re-edit of content from the excellent articles written by Oliver Moore for The Globe and Mail and John McPhee for The Chronicle Herald. Please see their articles for original copy.
This marks the second time in just two weeks that I’ve posted an article related to Terence Bay, Nova Scotia! I pray for God’s blessing on Don Symes and hope that he is recovering well in Terence Bay from that horrible ordeal in Libya.
Here’s how you can find out more about The Anglican Parish of St. Timothy, Hatchet Lake and St. Paul, Terence Bay.


  1. I know that I run a risk here. Some people may think that having a Sunday to bless Blackberrys is tacky. And maybe this posting should be under my crazy churches doing crazy things category. But I actually think it's pretty cool.

    Lisa Vaughn is onto something here. She's right about smartphones and computers becoming our main tools today. And these tools should be dedicated for doing good.

    Let's face it, how many of us waste time playing silly games, or surfing the net and viewing things we really don't need to be seeing. Maybe I'm crazy but I absolutely love the idea of having a pastor pray for me that I would use my phone and computer to do good and for life-giving communication.

    Most of us can't go to Terence Bay, Nova Scotia this Sunday, but you can hold your device up to your screen and have Rev. Vaughn pray for you. That's pretty cool too.

    So what's your verdict? Let me know....

  2. Good points, Ken. I like the idea too. I prayed along with the video with my phone and laptop.

  3. I think it is just as silly as bringing your pets to church to be prayed over. Where is the reverence when it come to God, it seems like a bad joke.

  4. Reverence before God -- dedicating all of my life to God. Wouldn't you agree?

    If a lot of my life is spent on the phone and on the computer, why not ask God to bless these tools? Indeed, if you listen to the blessing Rev. Vaughn is using, she actually anoints the person (not the device) and prays that they would be blessed in their use of their cellphone and computer, that they would give life and encouragement to others.

    Gary, I think this is totally about reverence. Why should I have and use any device outside of God's sphere of influence? And why shouldn't I be able to ask my pastor to pray that I would use these devices as God wills?

  5. Just when I started to take you seriously, I had to give my head a shake is this guy for real?

    Mothers brought their children to Jesus so He would bless them. Now of all things Blackberrys. You are right. It is TACKY!

    Bring the children to church to be blessed. What a novel idea! Why didn't anybody think of that?

  6. From way back the Anglican Church had the blessing of our tools. The blessing of the animal was blessing our livelyhood. It might be the blessing of pets but that's not the original intent. Actually the blessing of our electronic tools is a logical follow up. We used to need our animals to make a living now we need our phones, laptops, etc.
    Blessing of pet silly, maybe, but blessing our means of earning a living, hardly so.

  7. Anonymous, I have no way of knowing which "Anonymous" poster you are. So it's hard for me to carry on a conversation with you or to know what to make of your comment: "Just when I started to take you seriously, I had to give my head a shake is this guy for real?"

    I am for real. I think this is a pretty cool idea. Since I spend so much time on my computer and phone, why not ask God to bless my use of these devices that I what I do on them will be pleasing to him.

    It's fine for you to say it's tacky. I asked for feedback. Thanks, but let's not make it personal. I'm trying to be a good Christian and to stimulate good discussion on matters relevant to where our faith intersects with culture.

    By the way, in your comments you tried to set up horns of a dilemma -- either we bless children OR we bless Blackberrys. What if St. Timothy - St. Paul in Hatchet Lake NS actually does both? Would that be ok? So far as I can tell, they do bless children, and they minister to them and they have cool things running there for their kids. Wouldn't it be ok if they also wanted to bless those adults who would like prayer about their use of computers and phones?

    What if Jesus actually calls us to surrender all, to dedicate our whole lives to him, even all our possessions?

    Just thinking...

    P.S. Thanks Lou, appreciate the comment.

  8. I would much rather it be a prayer for discernment and discipline for the users of the technology rather than hiding behind a "blessing of the technology".

  9. I'm with Patrick. It seems to me that blessing an inanimate, soulless object is a pointless endeavor... maybe even – dare I say it? – a stunt. Having said that, if the service is actually about blessing the USERS of the technology – about praying for their discernment, discipline, strength and benevolence – then that's a whole different story. If that's what it's all about, then I'm all for it!

  10. I somewhat can appreciate the blessing of children. Hannah promised her child Samuel prior to his birth to God's service. In some denominations infants are dedicated, in others christened and others as well, confirmed all to God's service.

    Only humanity has been purchased with the precious blood of Jesus.

    Let's not make a mockery of God by having clergy blessing animals and inanimate objects.

    These objects or tools are useful only when we humans make use of them. Some use these same tools for God's glory and others for their own self destruction.

  11. "Some use these same tools for God's glory and others for their own self destruction."

    Andy, given that, what's so wrong about asking for a prayer of blessing that I might use these tools to God's glory? This is what Rev. Lisa Vaughn is offering. Those who wish to have such a prayer of blessing on their use of smartphones and computers are being invited to come forward for prayer. The person is being anointed with oil (not the device) and the person is being prayed for. So this ongoing complaint of blessing inanimate objects or pets is not really on subject -- that's not what's happening -- it's just the "clever" title that the newspapers and this blog gave to the idea. Again, I gave a link to a video of prayer -- do you guys have issues with this prayer?

  12. Terrific post, Ken. I look forward to reading your blog in more detail :)

  13. Thanks, Rick. Welcome to the blog!

    Have a look around, for sure, and let me know what you think.

  14. Ken I don't have a Blackberry, could I get my blender blessed instead.I would also like to ask for my vacuum to be healed,oh and my fire alarms as well,they grow weak.

    My guess is,that Lisa Vaughn really digs her BB.I'll bet it is always by her side,even closer than her Bible.

    Your Buddy Chhad

  15. I certainly raised an eyebrow when I began to read this posting, but after viewing the blessing, and reading Ken's supporting comments, it makes perfect sense to me.

  16. Wow Ken, you say MAYBE you're crazy? I don't think there's any question. Just caught this as I was switching the computer over from Chad. Don't know why he wastes so much time reading this stuff.

    I having banking to do then I'm spending time with real people. Bless yourselves and do the same.


  17. Something very interesting has happened here. The very reason for having this special prayer for our computer and gadget use has been demonstrated in these comments.

    "Just when I started to take you seriously, I had to give my head a shake is this guy for real?"

    "Let's not make a mockery of God by having clergy blessing animals and inanimate objects."

    "Wow Ken, you say MAYBE you're crazy? I don't think there's any question.... I having banking to do then I'm spending time with real people. Bless yourselves and do the same."

    QED. Thank you for demonstrating that we all make mistakes when using computers for blogging and smartphones for texting. We insult others, sometimes we're mean, we fail to be kind, we boldly claim to represent God and put down what another is doing in the name of Christ. There's something about the technology, maybe about typing, that causes us to lose a bit of our "human" edge.

    In an email on the side, a friend asked, "Tell me how you deal with this - how you put yourself in a place where these [insulting comments] don't affect you. It's a place I want to be." Grace, prayer, understanding. We all run the risk of saying things we'll regret later, and something about this technology causes us to multiply our mistakes.

    For this reason I believe Lisa Vaughn has really hit on something very important! As Christians, we must use this technology more responsibly. With every post, every text, every call, we are representing Christ our Lord.

    Rev. Vaughn said this Blessing for Blackberry and Computer Users was all about saying to God, "Help me to be the best Christian, the best person I can be in my conversations, in my communication.”

    Let that be our prayer. I couldn't go to Terence Bay or Hatchet Lake or wherever that amazing church is near Halifax last Sunday, but I did slow down for a few minutes and use the video copy of Pastor Lisa's prayer to seek God's blessing on my use of my computer. If you haven't done something like that recently, I'd encourage you to do it too. I doubt any of us is perfect in our communications, but I know by grace we can all do better :)



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