Early in our journey toward the celebration of Christ’s birth day, I am reminded of just how important the lighting of the candles in the Advent wreath have been for me throughout the years. Each candle has given me a moment to pause and reflect, to grow confident through waiting, to prepare myself for God’s new coming in Christ, to begin to practice the presence of the God who is, was, and will be.
My favorite way to experience the lighting is in contemplative silence as the candle wick receives the light.
Perhaps you can recall Jayber Krow’s passion for silence in worship. Wendell Berry gives him these words of reflection:
“I liked the naturally occurring silences—the one, for instance, just before the service began and the other, the briefest imaginable, just after the last amen. Occasionally a preacher would come who had a little bias toward silence, and then my attendance would become purposeful. At a certain point in the service the preacher would ask that we “observe a moment of silence.” You could hear a little rustle as the people settled down into that deliberate cessation. And then the quiet that was almost the quiet of the empty church would come over us and unite us as we were not united even in singing, and the little sounds (maybe a bird’s song) from the world outside would come in to us, and we would completely hear it.
But always too soon the preacher would become abashed (after all, he was being paid to talk) and start a prayer, and the beautiful moment would end. I would think again how I would like for us all just to go there from time to time and sit in silence. Maybe I am a Quaker of sorts, but I am told that the Quakers sometimes speak at their meetings. I would have preferred no talk, no noise at all.”
So to those who are paid to talk, I suspect there is some dear soul in your congregation who is praying for a preacher with a little bias toward silence. Let the beautiful moment begin.
I too, am biased toward silence ever so often. When I am in my car, I deliberately keep the radio turned off many times just to hear the silence, or what the Lord would say to me. When prayers are prayed, I so often desire that silence would be observed a few seconds after the amen so that meditation could occur about our petitions before the Lord. He might just answer right away if we would sit still long enough to hear his still, small voice. Since we expect silence when we are talking, maybe we should give that same courtesy to God.