Thursday, January 18, 2007

Lord, Please Bless My Bytes

Today I bring you exciting personal news: I have a new laptop! Ginger brought it in her carry-on luggage when she returned from her holiday in the States.

A kind of calm has returned to the household. For one, Leah has her own computer back; no longer does she have to wait for me to check on Mavericks or Rangers scores before she gets to read her email.

The last few days, I have enjoyed getting to know my laptop, and discovering all its wonderful qualities. I think it’s going to be a beautiful – and long! -- relationship.

However, I wonder if this relationship ought to be formalized by something more than just a receipt from Dell and a packing slip … I picked up my Book of Worship to see if there was some kind of ritual for welcoming a new computer into one’s life.

Interestingly, there is a precedent for blessing inanimate objects – for example, there is an order for the dedication of an organ or other musical instruments, and another one for the “dedication of church furnishings and memorials,” which the book says can be used for things such as “gardens, signs, bells, and parking lots.” And there are multiple services useful for dedicating buildings, homes, and new churches.

But should laptop computers be blessed?

I know it sounds a little crazy, kind of something you’d see Wendy and Rory do on GodTV. I’m also aware that there is a slippery slope here, too – first, the computer, then the car, refrigerator, washing machine, and collection of U2 CDs …

In the Catholic tradition, May 1st is set aside as the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker, which is “an appropriate time to bless tools or even larger implements or equipment that people use in work.”

Thank you, Catholics! Thank you for recognizing that anything can be blessed, and that it is certainly not inappropriate to consecrate, or set apart, any tool for the ultimate glory of God.

From the moment I received this laptop into my life, I am conscious of the fact that it is, truly, God’s own laptop, not mine. The miracle of digital technology is God’s own wonderworking, not mine. The words I plan to type, blog, read and craft on this machine are meant for God’s glory, not mine.

And so, in that spirit, let me revise the prayer of consecration found in the UM Book of Worship, originally written for the church organ … Please bow your heads in reverence:

Eternal God,
whom present and future generations will worship through the
gift of digital technology,
accept our praise to you in the workings of this machine,
which we consecrate in your name and to your glory.
Grant that its bytes may be a blessing to all who use it
and receive messages from it,
and that they may be consecrated to you,
whose own bytes have gone out through all the earth
and whose words to the end of the world-wide web.
May we be connected to your holy search engine that your glory may surround us and empower us for the service to which you call us in the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.