Am I imagining it or is worship suddenly becoming more glowing and ethereal – at least in our college chapel, after dark. Recently people have begun to follow the evening office on their tablet or mobile phone. Have you noticed that such devices give off a pool of bright light, making the user’s face look quite pale and spectral? Apparently, the light coming from these screens is adjusted to daylight ‘light temperature’, so appears quite harsh and cold compared to, say, the flame of a candle. It’s even been suggested that people should avoid using their tablets immediately before going to bed – otherwise the light may fool their brains into thinking that it’s still the middle of the day. Software has been launched to try to overcome this problem, though it’s only available for PCs and laptops at present. Maybe a special coloured overlay might help to warm up the light from tablets in church.
But there’s no harm in faces glowing when they worship. We are told that Moses’ face shone and rays of light shot out from his face, as from the sun, after he had met with God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34). His face was so dazzling that the people needed protection from the intense light, and so Moses put on a veil. By then, his face would have been quite old and lined, but, of course, faces of any age, gender, or race can powerfully reflect God’s radiance. The important thing is not just to be lit up by one’s own tablet (aka ‘the devices and desires of one’s own heart’), but to allow oneself to be set on fire with love for God and God’s world: so that (in the words of the 17th century priest and poet, Thomas Traherne) ‘The very night to me was bright, ‘Twas Summer in December’.