Saturday, May 25, 2024

My battle with silence. . .

Everyone of us says we love silence -- especially silence in worship.  But all you have to do is program in some silence and you find how uncomfortable it makes us.  If the pastor says we are going to take a minute of silence, about 30 seconds into it we are fidgeting and looking around to see what is going on.  Maybe we are not programmed by God for silence.  Maybe it is a discipline learned and appreciated more after learning it.  I wish I knew.  I will admit that I have a battle with silence.  Sometimes I love it and sometimes it drives me crazy -- and I am talking about silence in worship.

From the still small voice to a thousand other moments in God's dealings with men, we know that silence is filled by God.  He fills it not with sound but with Himself.  I wish I could say that I had learned to love silence in this way and because God fills it.  I am not there yet.  Sure, I hate the noise level of most churches where people are assembled in worship.  It is noise largely unrelated to worship yet not quite unrelated to our life together as God's people.  Fellowship is noisy by nature.  Conversations are seldom as quiet as we think they are.  I am not talking here about the cell phones that go off or the mechanical noise of things dropped but the ordinary noise of life -- a hushed conversation, a child singing, and the like.  It is hard to see that these are really an enemy of the purpose of our gathering together but neither are they primary.  Is it better to have silence if it means we do not greet one another or acknowledge our life together in Christ?  What is the trade off?  My mind is definitely conflicted.

One thing I do wish for is at least a few solid minutes of silence before worship.  It would be a start if the pews would be silent or at least quiet for the minutes before the start of service.  It would help the people of God to be devoted to prayer for those moments before the Lord's name is invoked and sins confessed and praises sung and prayers prayed.  Yet even that seems too hard a thing.  It is almost a relief to me when other noise covers our busyness -- the bells ringing, the organ prelude, the hymn introduction -- and brings us to attention.  At least then we might look up away from ourselves and seemingly ready to look to the Lord.  The typical reality is that we are so busy that without a bell ringing or the organ intoning the first hymn we just might not even know that the service is beginning.  It is my conflicted opinion that I still have not resolved.

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