Bread – Silence

October 24, 2012


Readings for Wednesday, October 24, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Rev. 8:1-13; Luke 10:17-24; Psalms 38,119:25-48

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In Revelation today, the following is reported: “When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour….” Rev. 8:1

There are really only two times when we stand silent. The first is when we are overwhelmed with awe at what just happened, and we are silent. In such circumstances, we say that we are speechless or dumbfounded. The second time we stand silent is when we choose to shut our mouths, when we choose to live with our own thoughts and to listen. This second time is almost so rare that we don’t even have a name for it. We can’t say that we are speechless, because we have our speech, we just choose not to use it. Perhaps if we are in school, church, or someplace where we are “supposed” to be quiet, we might call that “enforced silence,” but otherwise when we just choose to be silent, we don’t have a good name for that. Well, I am going to coin the phrase “expectation silence” because, often, we choose to be silent when we are expecting something to happen, to hear words of wisdom, to encounter God in prayer, to hear the deer approach in the forest, that kind of thing.

In our reading, what kind of silence is happening in heaven? Is it the speechless, awe-filled kind? Or the enforced silence type? Or is it the expectation silence? Maybe in these circumstances it is all three. The angels and saints are speechless because of the majesty they are witnessing. The angels and saints are staying silent out of respect for the holiness of God. The angels and saints are expecting to hear something wonderful, and they are silent. Any and all of these explanations work, I think.

They were silent for thirty minutes. Have you ever tried not to say anything for thirty minutes? It is almost impossible, because we love to hear ourselves talk, even if it is only to ourselves.

What if we were silent before God today for just thirty minutes? What kind of wonders would we see for the first time? What kind of truth would we hear from Him or even from those He has placed among us to love and to hear from?

If we don’t shut up, we may never hear that quiet voice, that still voice, that wind of the Holy Spirit which blows around and through us. If we don’t shut up, we may never see the miracle which is happening before our eyes.

See, what happens when we are silent is that our mind begins to become uncluttered from our own agenda and our own reasoning, and begins to seek input through the eyes and the ears. And what do the eyes see and the ears hear – God, God’s presence through nature, and other people.

See, what happens when we are silent is that we are really setting aside our importance, our thoughts, our agendas, our focus on ourselves, and turning that focus upon our world, our God, and our neighbors.

And when we are quiet, we can really listen, maybe for the first time. We can listen to Scripture, we can listen to the Holy Spirit, we can listen to our spouse and our children, we can listen to the sounds of the world, and we can listen to ourselves, our heart, our aches, our needs, our anger, our sins, our joys, our sufferings.

It is the last point, that of shutting up so we can listen to ourselves, which drives many people to hate silence. But think of this, in our silence, as each concern, loss, sin, and negative thought arises, we can grab it and hand it over to Jesus. We can confess in the silence, because we can see and hear clearly what we need to confess. But there is more. In the silence we can also hear our joys, our happiness, our loves, our Savior who lives in us and us in Him. And while are in silence, listening to ourselves and these wonderful gifts we have been given, we can give thanks to the same Jesus who has taken our burdens.

This is the middle of the week and will be filled with busyness, talk and bustle. Take a moment, take thirty minutes. Don’t say anything during this period. Just listen, and as the things which need confession bubble to surface, let them go, release them to the One who says that He will carry your burdens; and as the things which need celebration also bubble to the surface, give thanks (silently) to the One who has given them to you. And in so doing, with all the angels and saints, stand in the presence of God – in silence, in expectation silence. And see what happens.

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*Today’s readings designate Ecclesiasticus, sometimes called the Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach. This is not a book contained In the canonical Old Testament, but instead belongs to that body of work called the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical Books. These books are accepted by some Christian denominations as useful, but are rejected by other denominations. I have not included this reading today because of these controversies. However, if you want to read it, the reference for today is Ecclus. 7:4-14.

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© 2012 GBF

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