The Spiritual Rhythms “Five A Day”
Silence is a rare commodity. Silence may not be the absence of God’s voice but rather a more intimate language by which God communicates with us.
A few years ago Christopher Jamison, a Benedictine monk involved in the TV programme “The Big Silence”, said:
“Silence is the gateway to knowing God and, truly, to knowing oneself. I am on a mission to help people find silence in their everyday lives because I believe that all need silence. When we enter regularly into silence we start to see things with greater clarity. I come in touch with that deepest part of myself – my soul. Most people’s lives are so full of busyness and so full of noise that they are in danger of this really important part of their lives dying away.” 1
1 - D Runcorn, Silence: The Gateway To God, Cambridge: Grove Books Ltd, 2017, p.4
For many people, keeping silence will not be a conscious or regular part of their daily routines. You may like to view, and introduce this service, as a “taster” of what it means to keep silence.
Some Biblical References
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: . . .a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 7&8)
“For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.” (Psalm 62: 5&6)
See also Matthew 6: 7&8; James 3:1-12; Psalm 131.
Some Possible Approaches:
Perhaps begin by asking people what they think is good about silence, and then ask what they find challenging or off-putting. If this conversation happens in small groups, it might be possible to encourage people to explain or explore why they feel the way they do about silence.
Create a way for people to let go of, or put aside, the things they know are going to distract them if they try to keep silence – perhaps by writing things down on a piece of paper, screwing the piece of paper up and putting it in a specific place to symbolise putting these things into God’s hands; or by offering everyone a stone to hold and think about those things and as they put the stone to one side encourage them to imagine placing those concerns etc to one side – they can pick them up again later if they feel they need to.
Practice keeping silence together! There are a number of ways you could do this:
- Provide a focus for people during the period(s) of silence – an image, or a plant or flower, or a candle, for example.
- It might be a good idea to have several periods of silence, which increase in length – e.g. start with one minute, then a little later keep silence for two minutes and towards the end of the service keep silence for five minutes.
- Some people find it helpful to use an anchor word – choose a word (it doesn’t have to have a religious meaning) and each time you breathe in repeat that word. As you repeat it, imagine it sinking deeper and deeper and securing you every more firmly in God’s loving presence.
Hymns and Songs
You may not want to include many hymns/songs in this service, but some suggestions include:
- Be still and know that I am God ... STF 18
- Be still for the presence of the Lord ... STF 20
- Breathe on me breath of God ... STF 370
- Jesus be the centre ... STF 447
- Master speak, thy servant heareth ... STF 666
- The Lord’s my shepherd ... STF 480 & STF 481
- You are the centre, you are my life ... STF 567
If you would like to explore other ideas as you prepare your service please speak to one of the ministers.