Be Silent and Still

If there is one thing that drives us almost insane,

If there is one thing that we cannot stand,

If there is one thing that makes us uncomfortable it’s...


We live in a culture that does not know what to do with being silent or still.

In the Old Testament book of Habakkuk (2:20), we are told, “The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him."

But silence drives us nuts.

In Psalm 37:7, we are told, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.”

But we can’t be still.

In Psalm 46:10, we are told, "Be still, and know that I am God."

In our culture we don’t like to be still.

We don’t like to be quiet.

We don’t like to be silent.

It drives us nuts!

Maybe it is the fault of our parents. We will just say it’s their fault. If your parents were constantly telling you to “be quiet, be still and behave, you can blame them And say as adults, we have rebelled against our parents. We don’t like to be quiet. We don’t like to be still. So, we live a life that is busy, and active and restless.

We have this feeling that if we are not doing something, saying something, planning something, then we are not being productive and if we are not being productive, then we are wasting our time.

By the way, I do promise to finish the sermon in a timely manner, so you don’t have to sit hear being quiet and still, since Most of us feel like we need to be active every minute of the day.

Let’s look back A generation or two ago, the life of the family was going to be revolutionized by the automatic washing machine. Up until then, cleaning the family’s laundry literally took an entire day. People referred to one day of their weekly routine as wash day. I can remember going to my grandma’s house in Massachusetts and helping her do her laundry in her old ringer washer, now my grandma’s ringer washer was electric so I didn’t have to hand crank the ringer but I remember it took a long time to do laundry that way and then go outside and hang it up to dry.

Then technology came through with the washing machine, and you could throw the clothing into a machine, and then leave it and go do something else. What a time saver.

So, what happened? Did we get more time to relax? To be still? To be quiet? No, we filled our time with other duties.

The computer was the same way. It enables us to do more our work in a lot less time. But do we get off work early? No. We simply do more work.

There is something within us that compels us to fill up every moment of our time.

Even if we are not talking about work, our families are stretched to the limit with activities as we go from ballet classes to soccer to outings to concerts to this and to that.

It is as if we are afraid of what might happen if we would just be still for a moment. If we would just be ---- quiet. If we would just have silence.

And if you think this is a modern problem, think again. Look at Martha and Mary. Jesus comes to their home. Mary is content to be still and silent, and to be with the Lord. Martha can’t do that. She has to be busy. In the words of the New Testament lesson, she becomes "distracted and upset at many things."

And so, it is with us. -----Jesus is in the midst of our life.But we become distracted and upset at many things.Our world is so busy, our lives are so full.And we like it that way.We like it because a busy life makes us feel important.How many of you want to be important?We all do.We want to be important. We want to be valuable. We want to feel like we are worth something to others.

One of the things that attracts us to the Gospel is the Good News that God loves us. We are important, we are important to God. The God who made and maintains the entire universe believes we are important enough to pay attention to and to love and to care for. We are important enough to God that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to die for us and for our salvation.

But that is not enough. We need something else to validate our lives – we need a busy schedule. We fall into the trap of believing that if we are busy, then we are important.

We need to know that it is OK for us to let go of our busy-ness, and to be quiet, and still, and not be so busy. I want to say this sermon is not the same as the sermon when I talked about taking time to rest. This sermon is talking about being silent, being quiet, being still. Resting and silence and stillness are very different things. I’m talking about taking time to be silent to be still and to be with god

I want to give you three good reasons why it is good for you to be still and to be quiet in our lives. First, Being Still and Quiet Is Good for us.

Not long ago, a fellow minister shared with me a conversation he had with one of his parishioners. He said that recently he had an angry church member called him up on the telephone saying, "I phoned you Saturday, but I couldn’t get you." The preacher explained that it was his day off.

"The church member said What? A day off? The devil never takes a day off!"

The minister, said that’s right "and if I didn’t take any ’time off’ I would be just like the Devil!"

We all need times in our week when we slow down and become still and quiet because it is vital for our soul. And for our relationship with God. So important is this principle, that God made the command for a day of rest, a Sabbath, part of the Ten Commandments.

We have lost that sense of how important it is for us to observe a Sabbath – a regular time of silence. When I was growing up, stores were closed on Sundays. People didn’t go shopping, they observed the Sabbath, they took time for silence. Now, the only businesses I know of that are closed on Sunday are Chick-Fil-A & Hobby Lobby.

We are busy 24-7, but God’s will is for us to occasionally stop. Be still. And be silent.

God commanded us to take a regular Sabbath, a time of quiet and stillness. We need to obey him.

Secondly, being still and silent from time to time is good for your relationship with others.

Most of us feel like we have to be saying something all of the time. We have to be doing things, saying things when we are around others. Few of us would feel comfortable just being with someone, without feeling the pressure to open our mouths and speak.

This is especially true when we are in the presence of someone who needs comfort. All we really need to do is to be quiet and be present – but we feel obligated to speak, and what we say is often empty and meaningless – and worse, sometimes painful.

Think about what somebody might say without even realizing it because they don’t want silence.

A friend of mine lost her son in a car accident several years ago. When I went to the funeral home, we just hugged, I didn’t say anything she didn’t say anything we just hugged. I have known this woman for over 30 years and her son was about 6 when we met. I knew how much she loved him, and how difficult it was for her to be standing there next to him. Lying in his casket. I knew there were no words I could say to her that would comfort her at that moment. So we were silent, just hugging and when she was ready she said to me, I was so happy to see you walk in because I knew you wouldn’t say anything you would just hug me, she said so many people came up to me and said you’ll be fine, you’ll get over it, after a while you won’t miss him. That was about 6 years ago, she still misses him, she isn’t fine, she isn’t over that loss, but people still 6 years later will see her and tell her it’s time to get over it, rather than not say anything, rather than just be silent.

What about the widow or widower and somebody says to them, God needed him more than you did, instead of just being silent.

Or there is somebody that gets a diagnosis of a terminal disease and you say, Cheer up, it could be worse, instead of just being silent.

Words like that don’t comfort. Most of those words are not even true. They often add to the pain that the person is already going through.

In the Bible, Job knew what that was like. He was suffering the loss of his children who had died a sudden death, the loss of his property, and the loss of his own health.

And much to his delight, friends come to visit him.And much to his dismay, these friends start talking and they won’t be quiet.

At one point, Job in frustration says (Job 13:5), "If only you would be silent! For you, that would be wisdom."

And later, he cries out to his friends, (Job 19:2), "How long will you torment me with words?"

Sometimes the best way we can comfort someone is to be still and quiet, and just be with our friends. No words, just a hand to hold, a shoulder to lean on.

The Apostle James says in (James 1:19), "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak."

Finally, Being Still and Quiet is Good for your relationship with God.

We will rarely find God in the hectic moments in our lives, but we will often find Him in the quiet moments.

Elijah, in the Bible, had an interesting experience in the Old Testament book of I Kings (19:11-12).

The Lord told this prophet, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks, but the LORD was not in the wind.

After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.

After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper, a "still, small voice." God.

Mother Teresa has observed, "God rarely is found in the midst of noise and restlessness; instead, He is the friend of silence."

In the second half of the 20th century in a community in Taizé France they developed a style of worship known as Taizé worship. It is different from what many congregations usually experience. It is quiet and reflective and meditative in spirit. Music is its mainstay.

Such worship is intended to have a slow and leisurely pace. Lighting is subdued. The music of Taizé́, which is now known and published throughout the world, tends to be quiet, repetitive, reflective, and accompanied with a variety of instruments. Times of silence are included in the worship for periods of reflection and meditation.

If you happened to come to our Ash Wednesday service, you got just a glimpse of that type of worship. You came into the church, the lights were dimmed, candles were burning, soft music was playing and on your own you went to our different worship stations, and you sat, and you reflected, and you may have prayed. You did the stations in silence. And I remember people coming up at the end to receive ashes, and many of them had tears in their eyes. The silence and the chance to reflect and talk to God was overwhelming for some of them. WE don’t always realize how much we need that silence with God until for some reason we get it. And the emotions and the anxieties and the guilt and the sadness and the joy that we haven’t had a chance to sit and talk to him about just comes flowing out and you feel such a relief for that silent time with him that it brings you to tears.

It can be difficult for worshipers from the western world to enter into this kind of worship. We are accustomed to noise, activity, talking, and a rather fast pace. To enter into this worship requires us to leave our hurry behind. During our morning prayers we take 1 minute of silence, I would happily give you 5 or 10 minutes of silence on Sunday’s, but I wonder how many of you would be able to sit in silence for 5 or 10 minutes every Sunday morning. Would you be able to sit her and simply just talk to God. Or would you after a minute or 2 start thinking about what else you could be doing instead of sitting here in silence or think about what you need to do when you leave or wonder how much longer do we have left of this silence. I would love for us to sit here together once a week in silence even if it’s just 5 minutes just to talk to God. It may be the only time that you will take in the entire week to do that, I would hope it isn’t, but it could very well be.

We need to slow down,

calm our spirits,

be silent,

and enjoy a leisurely time with God.

It reflects the kind of attitude many of us need in our busy lives.

The Psalmist in the Bible tells us (Ps 37:7), "Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him."

And elsewhere, the Psalmist tells us, (Ps 46:10), "Be still, and know that I am God."

But we are too much like Martha.

For we live in a Martha World, we are easily distracted and upset by all the demands of the busy world. When what God would have us to do is to just be still and be silent in his presence.


‒ Pastor Pam