The Daily Practice:
NO PHONE UNTIL AFTER READING A PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE
SCRIPTURE BEFORE PHONE
The Common Rule includes daily rhythms of embrace and celebration, but we also need daily rhythms of resistance and waiting. We need to practice saying "No" to our default cultural formation in excess, selfishness and consumerism, in order to say "Yes" to the love of God and neighbor.
One of these practices of waiting and resistance is the practice of waiting to look at your phone until after you have read a short passage of Scripture.
This is the daily rhythm of resistance that is intended to embrace the love of God by resisting the formation of the utter chaos that all arrives at our heart’s doorstep through our phones.
In this practice, we come back to the habit of waking up and ask: What are we looking for?
What are we baptizing ourselves in at the beginning of the day? Is it the story of God's love as revealed in the Psalms? Or is it the story of work emails and the need to prove ourselves again today?
Is it the story of God's sovereignty over the world as revealed in the Epistles - which is designed to give us peace? Or is it the morning news stories of drama and palace intrigue, which are designed to get us so angry that we stew on it all day, and then come back for more in the evening. Of course we need to know about the world in order to care for our neighbors, but baptizing our day in the morning shock and awe of news headlines is not going to get us to love the vulnerable people who those headlines so routinely ignore.
Perhaps social media dominates our mornings. The well curated story of how other people are spending their lives: so pretty, so clean, so curated, so much travel - How I wish my life was different. Here too, we need to use social media well, but in order to do so we must realize it is not neutral, it is formative. Beginning our day by placing our tired, half-awake hearts into its skewed stories has real consequences. Consequences of being trained in anxiety and envy.
To resist all this, we start our day, however briefly, with the story of God's love for us as revealed in His Word. Then, we take His love into the places of news, social media, and work emails, in the hope that we might use them to His glory and unto the love of our neighbors.
In combination with the morning practice of kneeling prayer, I suggest printing out The Common Rule Advent Reading Guide (see below) and keeping it beside your bed. The practice of kneeling prayer can be done immediately upon waking, beside the bed. Then, I suggest taking the guide downstairs to your tea or your coffee and your favorite chair, and doing the scripture reading. Try to pick the same chair and the same drink if you can, part of the beauty here is doing the same simple thing each morning, and seeing if that 5 or 10 minute routine allows you to forget about your phone for the first few minutes of the day. (Download the guide below.)