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The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel

The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel is senior pastor of First Congregational UCC in Dubuque, IA. She is a speaker and author of several books including "'Spiritual But Not Religious' Is Not Enough."

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Lillian Daniel: Cell Phones at the Altar

February 09, 2014

"Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established." - Proverbs 16:3 

On the Sunday before Labor Day, we invite our congregation to bring symbols of their work to the altar to be blessed. People put up lap top computers, resumes, shovels, notebooks, mops and boots. And all that sits behind the communion table, set up for the feast. 

But not everybody plans ahead. So I invited people who hadn't remembered to bring anything to come forward and leave the workplace symbols they carried with them anyway. Yes, I did it. I asked them to give me their cell phones. 

You could feel a great awkwardness. Only a few people walked forward and placed their phones at the front of the church. "Don't be scared, we'll give them back to you at the end of the service!" I promised. A few more came forward. "Pastor Seth and I are pretty trustworthy. We won't let anyone take them. Besides, you can keep an eye on them from the pews for the next hour." 

It generated a lot of discussion at coffee hour. People talked about being unwilling to part with their phones. Others talked about what it felt like to let the phone go, both the freedom and the anxiety of it. It was hard for people to hand over and ask God to bless the very tools that sometimes take more of our time than they save. 

Whenever you find yourself unwilling to part with something, ask God to bless it and to bless you as well. Letting go is a great cure for clutching. But if you can't let go, don't worry. Just try loosening your grip a little. God can work with that too. 

God, reveal to me what things I cling to and all the reasons why. Amen.

Taken with permission from UCC's StillSpeaking devotionals. Visit

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