The Blessing of Silence in Hearing God’s Holy Spirit
There are many types of silence:
Embarrassed silence has several forms.
There is an awkward silence, when a situation is difficult and confusing. As when a teenager is to give a speech in class that is to memorized. The moment has come. And, everything goes blank standing before the class. The awkward silence.
There is a silence that suddenly comes in a conversation and the moment when neither one knows what to say.
There is the silence of a teen who didn’t study her homework and gets called on in class.
There is the silence of a young pastor who forgot his sermon.
There is the silence of shock, maybe upon a sudden death or tragedy.
There is the silence of joy. A new mother holding her newborn for the first time.
There is the silence of grief. Too many of us have experienced this
A time for silence, and a time to speak.
Then, there is the Beauty of Silence.
When we lived in Washington State, I loved to go to the forest up into the mountains. Some places I was the only person for miles around. At least it seemed that way.
There was the time that went into a section of forest that I had never before explored. No trails. Homes. Roads. And after a while there was this virgin forest. Douglas firs and western red cedars. Some eight feet in diameter. Some more than ten. Rising almost 200 feet high. There was no underbrush, other that some ferns. And this amazing awe of silence overtook me. Even in mind. No thoughts. Just the utter vastness of the canopy of green and the beautiful light, a subtle, wonderful light that etched through.
At the beach, on a still day, standing alone with the ocean before you is a magnificent silence.
Standing where you can’t hear the waves. And everywhere is the blue or the gray of those waters. The beauty of silence.
If you’ve ever been out West, you can stand at the top of certain mountains and see for it seems a hundred miles only snow capped peaks. No roads. No towns. The silence of beauty.
Once we had some elderly neighbors, Angie and Jess. Jess, died, so we went over to visit Angie.. Carol asked Angie the tell us about what she and Jess did when they dated. They met at middle life. She told how when Jess started to court her, he’d come over, sit with her in her home, and wouldn’t say a word. Angie said that she never really “knew what to talk about.” So they would sit there for several hours in silence. Then Jess would get up to leave and say, “Well, thank you Angie. I had a wonderful time.” And she would say, “I did, too.” That would be the silence of love, I suppose.
There was a silence after Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, that saw hope for a broken nation.
And one can only try to imagine the vast silence of the arctic.
When my Mother was coming upon her 83rd birthday, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday. There happened to a a famous preacher coming to Pittsburgh at that time. She had watched this man on television for years and had even been healed while watching his program, so she asked if we could take her to hear him.
We arrived in Pittsburgh about 3 hours early. When we got inside the Civic Arena, the doors were closed. There were 22,000 people there. The worship began with singing and prayer. There were occasional solos. The worship lasted for about an hour and a half. It seemed like 10 minutes. And then, the pastor asked everyone, all 22,000 of us to be perfectly silent. And we were. To ask the Holy Spirit to come in. I didn’t hear a cough, a shuffle of feet or a baby cry. About 10 minutes of absolute silence. I mean three was not a sound in that auditorium of 22,000 during that 10 minutes. Not a sound. And as the minutes progressed you felt the presence of the Holy Spirit increasing and increasing. Then we began to hear cries of joy. Mostly from the wheelchair section on the ground floor. People were being healed. The Holy Spirit had come in the prayers of utter silence that He had created.
“Be still, and know that I am God!
There is the silence of Holy Communion. Here we come together as The Body Of Christ to invite the living Christ into our sanctuary, our hearts our lives.
Let us not think of the choir, or the minister, or the one sitting next to you. But in Holy Silence think of God.
A purpose for such silence is to ask the Holy Spirit to come in and to unite us to Christ.
As the bread and then the cup are passed around the sanctuary, I want you to be asking the Holy Spirit to come in. To come to you. And to come to the whole church sitting here.
A holy silence brings the Holy Spirit.
Let the still, small voice of God speak to you.
“Be still, and know that I am God!
Jesus is Lord!