Dear Friend,

I have observed with concern, mixed with a bit of frustration, how you have been late for church with alarming regularity lately. At first I thought it was me who was too early. Or me, who has a housekeeper to manage the chores and kids so we could all leave on time. Then I realize I have been managing these on my own for weeks since our helper left, and have not been late once.

I really don’t mind if you prefer to stride into the auditorium while praise and worship is in full swing, with people on their feet, clapping and lifting hands, to find your way around this crowd. I really don’t mind because I would have warmed one of those red velvet seats somewhere in that auditorium. I would have already entered into sweet communion with the Lord.

You see, I really don’t mind….except when I needed to watch the other red seat beside me, with my phone on mute in the palm of my hand, trying to manage a half clap, so that a friend could afford to be late and not have to squirm her way through that massive crowd. And what of the questions I had to endure from ushers who could not help but notice that the seat with a Bible on it is still, well….still has a Bible on it and not a person. Surely they would have known by now, the reason behind my verbal acrobatics. How many excuses can one come up with? “She’s stuck at the tape counter, in the washroom, with the pastor, in the queue, at the food court, in the car park, etcetera etcetera….. My most common excuse? “She’s on the way.” That’s about the best I can manage without feeling like I have defiled the place with my lies. Minutes ticked by and the Bible will still there. Ever so often, I’d turn to look around to see if you’re coming.

These revelations are so you get an idea of what it is like at my end. I have put up with them as long as they do not disrupt too much of my worship time with the Lord. But the last straw came that Sunday when I had to pick-up your calls in the middle of worship, to direct you to that empty seat beside me. The music and singing drowned me out so you could not hear. I had to text you your seat number and the direction in the middle of How Great Is Our God. Using the phone in the presence of God is something I really want to avoid. It bothers me when you answer calls and reply messages during service. It bothers me even more if I have to do it.

Therefore, in keeping with my desire for a distraction-free church service and with my promise to not let the little communication device control my life, may I propose two solutions. One, set your alarm clock to wake you half an hour earlier. Two, find your own way around once service begins as I won’t be contactable then. Thank you for your kind understanding. As you have been such a dear friend, I will continue with pleasure, to reserve a place for you in the queue.

Your dear friend,

This letter is a response to my observation of what has often be taken for granted during church services. In a broader sense it applies to everyone of us who has made a habit out of making our friends wait on us and who has allowed our mobile phones to interfere with our life.