by Hye Sung
We meet in silence. Sometimes we have a reading to draw us in, and we often pray and speak what the Spirit provokes, but the ground of our worship is silence. The silence makes space for God’s presence within us and among us.
For me, the silence is confrontational. The first twenty to thirty minutes, and sometimes longer, feels like I am wrestling God. The immediate pleasantness of silence wears off within five minutes, and anxiety usually begins to roll up my chest, into my throat. I struggle to sink into myself, and hush myself before God. I start thinking about work, what I forgot to do today, and I have to counsel myself back into the silence. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, I have to bring each of these thoughts before God, and God lets me reason it out to the best of my ability, before I ultimately don’t care. It becomes easy to let these thoughts fall off when I just want to be with God.
by Enrique Cintrón
I have a love-hate relationship with silence.
I enjoy the peace that comes with it, the stillness that settles into my bones when I sit quietly somewhere. I love the calm of early morning, broken momentarily by a passing car, but only for a moment. I am most productive when I go to the library on campus and sit in the “quiet zone,” which is peaceful until students conduct full-on conversations in whispers and I contemplate shushing them (further ruining the silence).
Yet I also hate silence for one major reason — it often makes me feel alone. When I’m at home by myself, I often have to have music playing or the TV on just for background noise — partially because I’m uncomfortable being alone, partially because I’m superstitious and afraid of ghosts. But I digress.
On a more serious note, when I’m depressed, I need sensory stimulation because otherwise my mind will fill the silence with all kinds of negative thoughts. My mind will dredge up all kinds of pain and uncomfortable things for me to relive. That’s when silence hurts the most.
One place where silence doesn’t make feel alone, where silence is healing, is church.
by Daniel Lee
In his book Palm Sunday, Kurt Vonnegut declared himself a Christ-worshipping agnostic. “I’m enchanted by the Sermon on the Mount,” the Hoosier-born writer wrote. “Being merciful, it seems to me, is the only good idea we have received so far.” Those words were part of a sermon he delivered on Palm Sunday 1980 about concern for the poor and how Christians have too often misinterpreted Christ’s statement that the poor would always be among us as justification to ignore those in need.
In the same book he wrote:
“What is so comical about religious people in modern times? They believe so many things which science has proved to be unknowable or absolutely wrong.”
“How on earth can religious people believe in so much arbitrary, clearly invented balderdash? For one thing, I guess, the balderdash is usually beautiful – and therefore echoes excitingly in the more primitive lobes of our brains, where knowledge counts for nothing.”
by: Eric Muhr
Sunday morning services serve as space-less places. We fill them up with songs and sermons and passings of the offering plate (with background music, of course). What we really need is silence—space to listen. Why are we afraid?
Maybe it is because the openness of unprogrammed worship—in paring away the outside noise—leaves us no choice but to face the noise within: hypocrisy, phoniness, the false self we project (a fragile image).