Bread – Silence

November 19, 2008


Readings for Monday through Wednesday, November 17-19

            from the Book of Common Prayer:

            Hab. 2:1-3:18, Mal. 1:1-14, James 2:14-4:12,

            Luke 16:19-17:19

            Psalms 89, 94, 95, 97, 99, 100, 101, 109, 119:121-144

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“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me, …

But the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.”  Hab. 2:1,20.

 

Bookends.  We stand watchful and waiting, waiting for God to speak.  Hab. 2:1.  We know that He is there, in such power and awesomeness that the prophet calls us and the whole world to be silent.  Hab: 2:20.

 

There is an old saying that “silence is golden.”  When we say it, we normally mean for someone else to shut up.  But in many respects it is a generally true statement.  Since it is such a true statement, why is there so little of it?  Why are we so uncomfortable when we are with other people and nothing is being said?  When the children are off at school and the dog is asleep, why do we have the radio or television on?  Something in the background to break the silence?  Why do we feel it necessary to break the silence?

 

“…the LORD is in His holy temple; let [me] be silent before Him.”

 

There are great benefits to silence, but also great costs.  For example, when we are silent before the Lord, the benefit is that we can fully appreciate and apprehend the Lord’s power, glory, majesty, holiness, splendor, strength, and honor.  For example, when we are silent before the Lord, the cost is that we can fully appreciate and apprehend our own weakness, frailty, poverty, sinfulness, and dishonor.  Perhaps that is why we avoid the silence, because the silence exposes and reveals.  It exposes and reveals who we are and what we are, it exposes and reveals the quality of our surroundings and relationships, and it exposes and reveals who our god(s) are.

 

There is another saying which goes something like this — “You should be silent and have people think you a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.”  Everybody always laughs at this, but there is a good point.  While we are being silent, we can do no harm.

 

And harm with the tongue, with non-silence, is what our reading in James is about today.  In James, we read about the tongue setting life on fire with rumors and falsehoods and slander (James 3:6), about the tongue speaking lies instead of truth (James 3:1), about the tongue speaking curses and anger (James 3:9), and about the tongue engaged in inappropriate boasting (James 3:14).

 

I am reminded in this comparison between silence and speaking of the two types of people who go to the beach for vacation.  The first type are the ones who are talking on the cell phones, playing volleyball, parasailing, boating, fishing, drinking, and playing arcade games.  The second type, the silent types, are spread out on the towels soaking in the “rays,” “vegging out.”  When they both come back from their vacations, which one do you believe is more likely to say “it was a great trip, but I am so tired.”

 

“…the LORD is in His holy temple; let [us] be silent before Him.”

 

As uncomfortable as it may be, let’s commit to set be silent before the Lord today for just a few minutes.  Then, maybe, in our Christian walk we will be able to say “it was a great trip, and I am so refreshed.”

 

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Lord, help us to love your Word, incarnate in Jesus Christ and written in Scripture.  Help us Lord to come to you and to bring others to you.  Help us know that you are God and we are not.  Assist us Lord through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to so conform our lives to your revealed plans that there is identity of our actions with your will.   It is only through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ that we are empowered to even make this prayer.  And so we thank you and praise you!  Amen.

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