Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What's Up with Silence

Are you ever curious regarding why silence is, for the most part, viewed negatively in our culture? Consider:

1. When the Grinch is considering stealing Christmas, we learn that it's the wicked guy who likes silence, and the good people who like 'noise, noise, noise, NOISE!!'

2. Simon and Garfunkel said that "The Sounds of Silence" are indicative that we're living in isolation.

3. The tendency for most (though not all) people, is to fill the voids of life with music/news/sports/weather via the radio, TV, i-pod, or whatever else is available. There is, for many, something eerily uncomfortable about silence.

And yet, God invites us to silence, indicating that it both a part of our relationship with Him, and part of our relationship with each other. This Sunday, we'll be addressing silence at Bethany Community Church, as a platform through which God invites us to intentionally shut other noises and voices out of our lives in order that we might hear the still, small voice, that is our Creator. I'll be interested to see how people respond to 'the sounds of silence' - and hope that the response will be paint silence in a better light than Paul and Art ever dreamed possible.


At 19/7/07 17:20, Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a generally silent type of person i've always thought that all the old quotes that follow the lines of ‘being silent versus saying something that doesn't mean anything’ are good points. if i don't have anything to say i just won't say anything and a lot of times this as led to open doors through the knowledge that i have gained from others when they were given a chance to speak.

i think one of the major reasons that today's society is so uncomfortable with silence is that in an increasingly individualistic society we often fail to achieve the level of intimacy within our friendships that allows two people just to sit there in silence for longer periods of time without feeling uncomfortable. it is during those times that i personally feel the closest to others.

At 22/7/07 13:44, Anonymous Sierra said...

The silence in church this morning was a welcome respite for me. I just returned from a vacation where I spent my Sundays at a nearly silent Quaker meeting—I think we sat for 45 minutes or so—and a week in the forest without cell phones, email, tv or internet. At night I slept under the stars, and since we were deep in the forest without development or others, I found myself waking just to listen to nothing, believing that I could actually see God there. Total silence is a blessing as far as I am concerned.

That said, I also noticed that the music which begins our services was also missing, replaced by notices flashing around the cross. I couldn’t help wondering if we don’t have more than enough information at our church? Multiple sites on internet, the bulletin, the communicator, emails, blue cards, posters, blogs, podcasts. I hope that the imposition of more information popping up around the stained glass window at the opening of services was just an experiment. I hope that the precious time at the beginning of church can be left for meditation and singing. Why would we replace music and silent meditation with notices about office volunteering scrolled around the cross on the very day we are seeking to nourish (through silence) an intimate exchange with our creator? I pray that this weird irony was not lost on others and that future silent excursions will have more quiet and less data—in whatever form it may take.

At 22/7/07 16:06, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This service was such a wonderful gift. I try to "carve out time" to meditate each day and soothe my guilty soul with the fact that I at least try. I was refeshed. It is the type of feeling I seek by indulging in various luxuries. How wonderful to be reminded that I can be refreshed and replenished through the experience of just being silently in God's presence.

At 22/7/07 21:09, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the word i took from the service:


it was wonderful

At 22/7/07 22:37, Anonymous Trude said...

Thank you for the courage to provide time for us with God alone together. It was cozy. In the silence, with my eyes shut, I sat listening for God's word thinking about his tone of voice for me today. I'd experienced "downness" and "grief" this week, and couldn't turn to thank Him easily. So this morning, I cried quiet tears of grief. Our God of comfort "held me in the firm assuring arms of his love, methaphorically speaking. The time was sweet and seemed surprisingly short. If I had heard his voice, it would have been that of my nuturing Abba.

At 23/7/07 00:34, Blogger Raymond said...

So... tonight I lit two candles. One in thankfulness for things like His provision, power displayed in the elements, relationships, etc. The second candle was lit in memory of a tradition I do when I travel...stopping in various churches and cathedrals, lighting candles and praying for people by name...a means of grounding me and taking my friends with me whereever I roam... this time however, as I lit the candle, only one name came to mind... a solid two year relationship with a friend, I consider a brother, that I feared I recently screwed up so badly that there was no recouping and feared the friendship lost. I'm absolutely shattered by this thought and would give anything to have our friendship resume as normal. My time from that moment on was asking God to "fix" this one relationship. Words Guide & Protect swirled in my mind. I'm writing this now to let you know that a very honest and very unexpected conversation with my broken relationship was just had with instant messaging led off by me asking, "what's crackin". I barely had hope, but five lines into it, it got very deep and very real and very ...specific. We're not 100% yet, but I believe healing has begun.

Thy rod and staff will comfort me. Guide & Protect? I've been held back by fear of failing, from moving forward in starting my business. I've spent the last two weeks mulling over various situations, scenarios, and possiblities. It climaxed tonight. Seems like there is little room for fear if I am truly experiencing comfort in God's protection and correction.

Not so much afraid of silence as much as distracted by my wondering thoughts...who knew tonight's silence would be revealing... .. .

At 24/7/07 12:33, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one who is easily distracted, I appreciated the time with so few distractions this past Sunday. What I felt that God was saying to me was, "I AM the same yesterday, today and forever." That promise of His faithfulness was reinforced. His ultimate purpose does not change.

At 24/7/07 23:08, Anonymous Kevin said...

I really enjoyed the silent portions of the service.

I agree with Sierra that there is sometimes an over abundance of information. It seems all three major learning styles are used each week to get the bulletin items across. To me the irony was that she/he noticed these announcements on the wall for the first time because of the silence.

As someone with ADD I really need to focus just to get through a conversation. The silence was a fabulous way for me to "inhale" the message and reflect. However, I was extremely dissapointed when the guitar player walked out. While others may have enjoyed the music, I was constantly distracted until he stopped. Perhaps if he had stayed in the wings instead of appearing on stage it wouldn't have affected me as much. Regardless it was a good service that reminded I need make more silent time for myself.

At 25/7/07 13:31, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great "sermon"! As I was sitting in silence I looked up and saw in the stained glass window "I am the Good Shepard". That was a very comforting and happy "thought" for me.

I chose to not listen to my CD's yesterday traversing to work and I had a peaceful thought time.

At 25/7/07 21:37, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for giving us space to meditate. I found the scripture uplifting and encouraging. After a week filled with noise and confusion, I was thankful for the peace that flooded my heart. In fact, that was the word that God gave me.....peace. I have only one criticism, the worship time was too short.


At 26/7/07 14:24, Blogger Ilse said...

I was moved by the words of Psalm 23:3 - That God leads me on paths of righteousness for the glory of his name. I am taken by the concept of God guiding me so that his name may be glorified. It truly amazes me that he desires to use me to bring himself glory - what a humbling concept, and one that shows me that it can only be through him that i could do this - only through his guiding me - because on my own I would fall short.

Thank you for this service - have enjoyed this whole series.


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