one of the favorite hymns in our tradition begins with these lines: "God himself is with us,/all within keep silence . . ." in our new hymnal, the text reads, "God, reveal your presence; gladly we adore you . . ." while this removes the exclusive language of the older translation, it also changes the meaning. not knowing the original text, i don't know which is the better version of gerhard tersteegen's german text from 1729, but the assurance of God's presence in worship and the admonition to be silent in that presence addresses what many of us crave these days.
i was surprised when one of our ministers approached me about a theme which she and her co-pastor and husband hoped to emphasize in our church's life during 2014--that of the longing of many for periods in our lives when we are "unplugged," released from the tether of electronic devices and the busy chatter that bombards us nonstop from the time we awaken until we fall into bed stressed and worried about tasks that are not completed. what a joy it was for me to hear that this will be an ongoing focus in our communal life! for a couple of years, i have been saying in various settings in our church that i long for more silence in my life, for fewer meetings, for more contemplative periods of worship with others.
my habit of spending quiet time on my own is rewarding and extremely helpful, but i feel a need for this to be complemented by such times in the company of others. our taizé services are a good beginning, and i love the reading of the lessons without commentary, the simple music, and the lengthy periods of silence that are a part of those services. yet i long for inclusion of quiet meditation in our more formal weekly service, in committee meetings, in other gatherinings in our church. as i listened to our minister speak about this emphasis on reflection and meditative prayer, my first thought was, "i'm not the only one!" and i was glad to know that others in our society have this same longing.
my prayer for each of us today is that we are able to find times in our lives to "be still and know that God is God," to be mindful of the subtle sounds of life around us that we miss in our busyness and compulisive focus on moving on to the next task. may silence be a welcome friend that we have missed for too long. shalom