In the 7-week Lent series at my church we’re looking at the spiritual disciplines Jesus portrayed during his 40 days in the desert. This past weekend we talked about solitude. After a slightly scaled-back worship set, Pastor Gene Appel started his message… in silence, using the placards in the pictures above. The silence was several minutes. And it was captivating.
We often teach listening for God by using 1 Kings 19:12, “After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” The Hebrew word for “whisper” is literally “sound of silence.” God is often not in winds or earthquakes or other drama. He’s found in silence. And yet, we pray for him to “work powerfully” or “supernaturally.” What we want sometimes is the dramatic God. But maybe what God wants is just our quiet, focused attention.
Silence is an amazingly different experience in church. Mostly because in today’s evangelical church we tend to fill every minute – even the “quiet” moments – with music, underscoring, teaching, direction, instructions, media, video. But maybe what people really need is an oasis from the rush and noise of life, and for us to model ways to connect with God.
We took communion in silence – a profound experience. God certainly inhabits the praises of his people, but he is very present in silence. And then Gene – via placards – gave the benediction in silence. And released the audience. There was no walk-out music, and people quietly left the room.
I can’t help but wonder what God will do with a church family willing to embrace the spiritual practices of Lent together – giving up in order to get more of God.