Unmute Yourself: The Prophetic Call of Zoom Worship Rubrics

“Unmute yourself.”

“Be sure to mute yourself.”

These phrases have become common pandemic parlance. We might even say they have become ritual rubrics, of a sort, for countless Zoom gatherings.

I have begun to wonder if these rubrics, like many of our liturgies’ rubrics, are layered with meanings ripe for reflection.

Liturgical rubrics provide guidelines for our worship together. They describe the actions we are to embody as we give voice to the words of the liturgy.

“Stand as you are able.”

“All may exchange a sign of peace.”

“The people stand or kneel.”

Now, due to Covid-19 and Zoom worship, a new set of rubrics has emerged:  “Unmute yourself.” “All those gathered should mute themselves.” “The people can now unmute themselves and exchange signs of Christ’s peace.”

These Zoom worship rubrics have stirred some theological questions for me.

Who has voice in our faith communities? Across our liturgical histories, whose voices have been muted, silenced, or ignored?

How do we discern when to speak and when to be silent? After all, sound and silence create the vibrant rhythms of our worship together.

In a world as sound-saturated as ours, when do we take time or find time to listen with care, intentionality, and depth?

And who among us hears the rubric–“unmute yourself”–as a call to proclaim Gospel truth in our lives and communities?

Ecclesiastes 3 offers this wisdom:

For everything, there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. . .a time to keep silence and a time to speak.

May God give us the wisdom to know when to speak, and may we have courage to listen with care and generosity to those whose voices for too long have been silenced in our communities and world.

One comment

  1. I didn’t ‘mute’ myself some years ago when preparing to celebrate Mass one Sunday evening in a local Church. I had a clip on microphone (ugh!) which was operated by someone inside the Church. I was in the Sacristy, singing to myself the song ‘Smoke gets in your eyes.’ I didn’t realise that the entire congregation could hear clearly. The moment I appeared at the Sacristy door they all burst into applause.

    AG

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