Friday, November 22, 2019

A loss of rhythm. . .

As I have often said, the loss of the Church Year has had its consequences for the whole view of attendance at worship.  Perhaps we could expand on this.  It appears that the weekly rhythm and its disruption both for work and pleasure has had consequences for attendance at worship as well.  There was a time when you could count on the fact that people worked during the weekdays and had the weekends off.  This impacted the life of the Church and contributed to the success of the Sunday morning gathering time for worship and study.  Now that this rhythm has been disrupted with work schedules that are all over the week and leisure time not only at a premium but entirely personalized, the churches have found lots of competition.

But churches are not the only ones suffering.  The desynchronization of our lives has impacted far more areas than simply churches and worship times and attendance.  When we once shared the same temporal rhythms — five work days, two days off, plus federal holidays — our times are now all over the place.  We could blame the dictates of demanding employers but the reality is that it is much more than the boss's fault.  We want to define our schedules.  There are numbers of people who want to work at night or weekends only or other atypical calendars. On top of this, we have seasonal changes in our schedules and rotating shifts as well as the ever common second and third jobs (with even odder schedules such as Uber drivers).  On the other end of this phenomenon is the fact that Americans tend to work longer and take less time off than other workers.

In addition to the Church, people are suffering.  Family relationships are subject to greater stresses due to the scheduling knots of work, school, shopping, and play.  From husband and wife to parent and child, the family is pulled many different directions and the pressures have both created the cracks and widened them.  Add to this the extended family and our folks are finding themselves hard pressed to schedule holiday get togethers or other traditional family events.  This is just as true for the struggle to find time for and schedule time together with friends.  There is a reason so many folks admit to being lonely.  We do not have regular or frequent opportunities to enjoy friendships and so we depend more and more upon digital connections.

It is one more reason why there is a cost to technology and a cost to individuality.  Until we figure out that we are the ones who are bearing the cost of that isolation, we will continue to yearn for what was and struggle to find ways to replace what has been lost along the way.

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