Thoughts to Ponder are my musings regarding community, things of the Spirit, and living as a Christ-follower. I don't offer the words of a professional or an expert; just a fellow traveler and explorer. Please don't take my musings more serious than I do. I've discovered a long time ago that I do not hold the keys of knowledge or wisdom. If I did, I misplaced them somewhere...typical.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Silence is Golden?

Ok, I have suspected for a long time now the Baby Boomer-Evangelical-Modern (apologies to Brian MacLaren) Culture Club would demand my membership card and kick me out. Now I am afraid I'll have to just get it over with and surrender it willingly with as little fuss as possible. (But there's no fun in that is there?)

What was it that sent me over?

Well, it's been building up for a while. As an 18 year youth ministry veteran (formerly--I took the demotion ten years ago and started preaching), I was very into the "praise and worship" scene. I took my teenagers to all of the highly kenetic youth events. Every Wednesday night my kids would gather for "Refuge" a praise and worship time featuring clapping, raising hands (well, some raised their hands) and even an occasional "shout" to the Lord.

Now to be honest, I did lead the kids in times of quiet and solitude, especially during retreats. But for the most part--high energy worship was what I loved.

Then a couple of years ago I went to a conference featuring "praise worship" as well as separate concerts.

I couldn't tell the difference between "praise-worship" and "concert."

I couldn't hear myself sing.

I couldn't hear anyone sing (except for the worship team).

I looked around. Nobody was singing . They were visiting (like at, um, a concert).

Fast forward to about six months ago. I took a Sunday off and went to visit a nearby church. (It's nice to see how others are sweating). The singing was great. The worship team, professional. I could hear most everyone singing-and they were singing. But...

There was no silence. It was as if spiritual "elevator music" was playing all of the time--even during prayer. In fact, the only time music wasn't playing was when the preacher was on stage preaching.

I knew then, I no longer was qualified to be a boomer. (Of course, I'm not sure what I am qualified to be...)

Please don't misunderstand. I don't mean to condemn exciting or kenetic worship. Hey, I can raise hands and sing my lungs out with the best of them. And I have truly experienced a sense of God's presence during moments like these.

But what's so bad about moments of contemplative silence?

And isn't it true, ladies, you hate it when your husband or boyfriend turns the TV or CD player on while you're trying to have a conversation? Doesn't that indicate someone isn't really listening? Sometimes in worship (and in our day-to-day lives) I think we are so busy talking, so immersed in noise, we really don't know how to listen.

Laurence Freeman wrote, "Ignatius of Antioch said that if we cannot understand the silence of Christ we will not be able to understand his words either. We can only understand his silence by being silent ourselves. In doing so together we experience the mystery of silence building community."

Maybe, just maybe we ought to let God get a word in first. And what better way to do this than to observe some form of intentional silence both during our corporate worship and alone? What are we afraid of?

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence.

T. S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday

1 comment:

Pastor Jerry Branch said...

Yep...well said, my brother!
Enjoyed your comments...we do need those times of quiet listening, but people are/seem to be so afraid of that...could it be that we're afraid we might just hear God say something, and that it wouldn't be what we wanted to hear?
Pastor Jerry