Tradition meets technology

Last night was our traditional carols by candlelight service in the church. As ever it was a spiritual moment to savour, with guests from near and far, candles lit, and little tots up later than usual with their faces bathed in the candles’ glow. Unusually, this year the sermon was not a standalone, but part of a series on Tales of the Unexpected. Last night it was the turn of the Magi – these mysterious misfits who arrive on the Christmas scene from so very far away.

The theme of being drawn in from far away suffused the entire service.  Each reading was illustrated with a fresco from an Ethiopian church. Our first reading was read (via a recorded phone call) by our missionaries in Addis Ababa.  We looked at the map of the world as lit up by intercontinental Facebook connections and thought about the desire to be part of things with distance no object. Finally, we remembered one of last year’s top Christmas adverts, with its theme of coming from around the world to be home for Christmas. The simple message arising from all of this complex technology? – God wants you home for Christmas.

On initial reactions, it would seem that  the message came home, and that people appreciated the diversity of its communication. However, this is a calculated risk. Using technology in a setting of deep tradition is not without its dangers. As ever, it can go wrong.  Alternatively – it can go well, but people remember the technology itself rather than the message. Neither of these is helpful! Technology must support a message which can function without it, but should never supplant a message which cannot.

A selection of the visual material is available below so that you can see what you think…