Rev. Lena Ali

SILENCE IN WORSHIP
At an Away Day with a group of Anglicans, we had a very interesting discussion about the presence of the Holy Spirit in worship which I would like to share with you.  One member commented that whenever she attended Mass, it was full of noise from beginning to end and it is almost impossible to find any silence to experience the presence of God or the Holy Spirit.  As you enter the Church, people are talking.  The Service begins with hymns.  We say prayers, we listen to the Lectionary readings, we listen to sermons. It feels as if the cup is full and there is no time to drink from it to make some space for a refill; with the result that whatever is said just overflows and people tend to switch off.  Everyone present felt that they could identify with some, if not all of the comments.

When people attend worship, they want to leave behind the busy schedules, the numerous responsibilities and they are looking for a place of quiet, a place to worship where they can be spiritually uplifted.  They do not want to just hear about God but to be with God and experience a deeper sense of peacefulness and communion with God; to sit quietly, reflectively, meditatively and wait to hear God's voice.

If we talk to God and avoid the silence, we are not enabling ourselves to hear from God and it is important that we hear from God in our Worship Services. It is understandable that people avoid silence because they do not know what to do.  We need to step back from the day to day noise and tune into God.

The best time and place to initiate silence is during a Holy Commun­ion Service. Holy Communion is the central act of Christian worship.  The Lord's Supper is a sacrament and a symbol, and in our Worship Book, some great liturgies have been built up around it. Most of them include silence because words are simply not adequate. There is probably no better time when our silence can draw us closer to God.

The Scriptures do insist on the value of silence in worship. "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).  Silence should be guided; and instead of rushing to fill the gaps, just pause for a few moments after a hymn has been sung; during prayers, during Bible readings, after a sermon, during confession and especially before and after the service.  However, it is done, we need to allow ourselves time to worship in an atmosphere of disciplined silence.

Wishing you all God's love and richest blessings.