This past Sunday we proclaimed the good news that, though we are often blind to it, God is always present with us and working for our good in every circumstance of our lives.
I said during the sermon that one of the ways we embrace this reality liturgically is by practicing silence every Sunday before we begin our worship service. You’ll hear Fr. Matt or me proclaim the hereness of God in some way, and then simply call us in to silence so we can become present to the God who is present to us.
Silence is deeply uncomfortable for many of us. We often try and fill our lives with words and plans and noise and thoughts so that we don’t have to sit with the anxiety and doubt that lurk just beneath the surface of our lives.
If we practice silence it will bring us into contact with those disquieting feelings, but if we stick with it long enough, we’ll also discover God. When we pause, stop, be still, and wait in silence we find that God is simply there.
Silence isn’t just for the beginning of the worship service, either. Good liturgy is punctuated with silence. Anglican contemplative writer Maggie Ross puts it this way:
It is not a question of silence or speech, but rather that the transfiguring energy given in silence is expanded and integrated by making us attempt interpretation through speech, while in the same moment insights that arise from speech deepen and expand us again into the silence.
What she’s saying is that in good liturgy our speech grows out of silence, and then leads us back into silence. There is a rhythm of speech and silence we learn to inhabit when we submit to the liturgy week after week. I like that our worship service doesn’t feel rushed. I think we could likely even create more space for silence between the movements of our liturgy.
The other great thing about silence is that you can practice it almost any time. Maybe you could even practice silence right now? After you’re done reading this, take 60 seconds to quiet yourself and “let God occur,” as Rowan Williams put it once.
And may God fill your times of silence with the blessed assurance of his constant presence with you and the confidence that he is working for your good in every circumstance of our life.
Grace and peace,