“Mouths that don’t speak and eyes that do not see; ears that don’t hear and mouths that have no breath.” I realise that the psalmist is talking about praying to idols, statues and the like, but whenever I read these verses, I can’t help thinking about the various gadgets that we use. Whether that is TVs, cameras, phones, sound systems, computers etc. Yes they do produce pictures for us to see and sounds for us to hear – and they are very handy tools: I am typing this on a PC, after all. But these gadgets are not conscious, they do not see the pictures they transmit or hear the sounds they broadcast. They are not alive: which is what the “breath” in the psalm refers to.
What would we do without these gadgets? Some people take a “Facebook-” or “Twitter-” fast during Lent. Maybe they find that discipline useful and that exercising that extra bit of self-control is a gift they may dedicate to God. What are they doing instead? In the time that is released do they have more face-to-face meetings? Or perhaps they spend the time in prayer or study? Perhaps they have some manual labour to attend to such as spring cleaning the garage or mending the fence damaged in that last storm? Or will some other gadget take their time instead: more Candy Crush Saga?
I suggest that this psalm invites us to consider whether there are any idols in our lives. I doubt any one gets on their knees and prays to their smart phone. But I wonder, is the technology our servant or our master; a useful tool but nothing more? Try this: do you always answer your phone no matter how important the face-to-face conversation you are having? If you had a gadget-free day, how would you cope – and I don’t just mean the inconvenience, but would you miss your tablet like you miss a friend? What about a gadget-free Lent? Now there’s a thought.
A prayer from “Common Worship”
Almighty God, by the prayer and discipline of Lent, may we enter into the mystery of Christ’s sufferings, and by following in his Way come to share in his glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Additional Collect, Lent 2)