tag : bright yellow-green apples: voice of silence

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Monday, August 09, 2004

voice of silence


I was having a good little moan about the protestant Church today, with Sarah the tolerant listener. And one of the things that I said really gets me is the sheer wordyness of it all, our reformed traditon is a faith of word. Spot the irony in my efforts here with the web creations; I suppose that's what comes from my being a Methodist. But anyway, I so readily played the archetype for how we often behave as a Church - treating God as if an audience. Yes an easy intimate relationship with God should readily be cultivated, but the sense of mystery and contemplation has been lost in many ways by some of our efforts. A relationship of regard needs dialogue and mutual listening. And thus the (soon to be ex) Archbishop of York's comments, came back to me:

"The truth is that we have become altogether too busy and too noisy, too wordy and too chatty...Does our worship really have to be wall-to-wall words and music? Do our prayer meetings and Bible studies have to be a series of monologues that the Lord will do this, that or the other thing?...We need to redress the imbalance between words and actions on the one hand and the lack of listening on the other."

David Hope hit a nerve here with many people. Maybe the story of Mary and Martha is some help as a pointer, when through my own spin of course. One of them busied around presuming to know what was best for Jesus, the other sat and listened to Emmanuel.


Blogger Andy said...

I think all aspects of Christianity are guilty of this. Even Catholics, who many disaffected Prots see as more mystical or experiential, are always accused of being far more wrapped up in 'Church' than in God. Of course, the Reformation was an attempt to bring God much closer to the believer.

Not that I'm having a go at Catholics - far from it! However, as I have recovered a more mystical faith of late, I have actually found myself returning to many things I did as an evangelical. In fact, I reckon the evangelical churches are more mystical than they like to believe! I remember going to a youth event, where we all sat on the floor, listened to a DJ play chilled music, and we given a piece of paper and a felt-tip. We were told to write out our prayers, or just what we felt. We could even draw a picture. People started lying down, with their eyes closed, just happy being with God.

Perhaps that was unusual!

Listening to God is probably the toughest thing you can ever attempt to do. But then it might just be the easiest as well (paradoxes again!). I've started meditation recently - easy in the fact that it is simply sitting silently before God in a wordless and thoughtless prayer. But then it is difficult in the fact that it is sitting silently before God in a wordless and thoughtless prayer. ;)

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

interesting insight there... and, may i say, a fantasticly poignent use of the name Emmanuel!

i read an article a few years ago called "Silent Worship," that challenged us to spend time in utter silence before God. listening for his voice, but without putting words in his mouth. it was a challenge to "be still and know that I am God" and to not speak, not think, and not look at the clock.

i have done this with both my youth cell and at our cell leaders meeting, and it is amazign what can come out of it. in one of them, after about 10 minutes of silence i got people to pick up some pens. pencils and paper and draw something- anything. what they heard, what they saw, what they feel, what they do not feel, what their thoughts were afterward... anything. really is quite an amazingly beautiful encounter with God, yet so amazingly simple: cutting out the possibilities of hype and irreverence and of missing God and replacing it all with simple, submissive silence.


12:47 AM  

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