Silence Topical Study

<p><font color="#0077c8"><span style="font-size: 28px;"><b><span class="heading-lg">Silence in Scripture</span></b></span></font></p><p><span class="body-copy">In <a href="">Genesis 1</a> God spe<span class="body-copy">aks six times on six days and then stops. God rests. But each of these days also has a night. And God rests then too. God doesn&#39;t talk all the time. In fact, Genesis doesn&#39;t even start with a word. Genesis starts with the formlessness of the earth and with the Spirit of God brooding over the face of the deep. Then God speaks. You might say that at last God speaks. &quot;Let there be light,&quot; says God. According to Genesis, God breaks the cosmic silence with a creative word. Alternating silence and speech and silence is the very rhythm of God, as old and deep in the nature of things as creation itself.</span></span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Because the pr<span class="body-copy">esence of God is numinous, one appropriate response to it is silent awe. God is supernatural, elevated, mysteriously other. Within such a presence an awed human has nothing to say. She is struck dumb. This primal fact explains why silence has become a Christian spiritual discipline. A disciplined believer quiets down to listen for the still, small voice of God, typically in a setting where the sounds of the rest of c</span>reation may also be heard.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">But in t<span class="body-copy">he psalms, God&#39;s silence may seem ominous. When God is expected to respond and doesn&#39;t, God&#39;s silence suggests indifference or unexcused absence and so is a typical target of lament.</span></span></p><p><span class="body-copy">In wisd<span class="body-copy">om literature, talkativeness is regarded as a sign of folly. The wise listen more than they speak because they are always hoping to learn something. The talkative are more interested in instructing </span>than in learning.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 16px;">Wise peo</span><span class="body-copy">ple imitate God by not talking all the time. They&#39;ve got more silences than words, and their silences are just as disciplined and just as thoughtful as their words. They speak only from the context of silence, </span><span style="font-size: 16px;">and when they have nothing valuable to say, they fall silent.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">Wise speakers may say more or less than others, but usually less, and always less that needs to be taken back. They have the habit of pausing before they speak, of considering their words in a way that adds weight to them. They give the impression of speaking out of a stillness at their center, a quiet place in which they are at home with themselves, in touch with God, and hospitable to the voices of others. It&#39;s a great advantage to be able to speak well, but it is a great art to be silent.</span></span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Genesis 1:3-5</a>, creation</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 28:1</a>, if you are silent to me, &quot;I shall be like those who go down to the Pit&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 46:10</a>, &quot;Be still, and know that I am God.&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 62:5</a>, waiting in silence</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Proverbs 10:19</a>, restrained in speech</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b</a>, a time to keep silence, a time to speak</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Lamentations 3:26</a>, waiting quietly for salvaton</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Isaiah 53:7</a>, like a sheep before a shearer is slient</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Habbakuk 2:20</a>, all the earth keep silence before him</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 26:62-63a</a>, Jesus was silent</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Mark 4:39</a>, the sea was calm</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Revelation 8:1</a>, silence in heaven</span></li></ul><p><strong style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="heading-lg">Reflections about Silence</span></strong></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">Silent resistance to injustice was a hallmark in the peace movements of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Lunch counter demonstrators, for instance, not only did not retaliate against the violence they were absorbing, they also did not return the vicious insults they were enduring. This was Christ-like: people absorb evil without turning it back onto the perpetrators, thus breaking the cycle of revenge and also witnessing to the world that goodness is more powerful than evil. It&#39;s easy to hurt and insult a lunch-counter sitter. It&#39;s profoundly difficult to absorb this evil.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Silent Spaces in Worship</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;">Thoughtful worship planners and leaders may want to consider creating a few silent spaces in worship to imitate God and to respect the ways of the wise. In noisy contemporary culture silence within worship is subversive and refreshing.</span></p>