Thursday, December 16, 2010

Silence, an Angel & Listening

One of the most difficult spiritual practices in 21st Century North America - or, for that matter, anywhere in the "Western World" - is silence. It makes us uncomfortable. It forces us to pay attention to the noise inside our own heads/hearts/minds. Silence is intrusive.

However, and as a way to enter into the spirit of today's posting, why don't you (we) practice a moment of silence right now. How about one minute?

Insert one minute of silence here: __________________________________

How did that feel? Was it difficult? To be honest I was only able to pull off around 45 seconds myself before caving in and writing this sentence!

There's a story in the first chapter of Luke that I'd never really considered before Rebekah bought it up in a sermon the Sunday before last. It was the Advent Sunday of Peace.

So here's how it happened: Zechariah, John the Baptizer's father, was serving in the Temple in Jerusalem. He got a visit from an angel named Gabriel. Gabriel told Zech that he and his wife would be having a baby boy, and that their son was going to pave the way for the Messiah.

So far so good. But both Zech and his wife were elderly. They'd never had children and the very idea - at their age - was preposterous. He pointed this out to Gabriel. The angle - very important angel - was, to say the least, ticked off. Here's what went down next:
  • I am Gabriel! I stand in the presence of God! And I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time. (Luke 1:19-20 - NIV)
Typically, I get a good laugh from this story of an indignant angel and then move on. But Rebekah pointed something out. She said that several months of silence allowed the message, the sense of expectation, and the "so what" of it all to settle into Zechariah's consciousness and work its way into how he followed God.

Do we ever allow God's Word to settle on us in that way? Do we take the time to honor the gravity of Christ's coming with silent reflection? Do we take the message seriously enough to simply let it work its way into our hearts and souls?

Advent is a good time to do this. Today is a good time.
Peace... Hope... Love & Joy - DEREK

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