Friday, May 31, 2013

Silence, Sabbath, and Worship

As the Sabbath day approaches, one of the things we need to prepare is to cultivate a heart of silence. This is one of the best ways to prepare for worship. There is far too much noise in our services each weekend. Sometimes, people are so uncomfortable in moments of silence, that they just have to do something. Like tapping on the chair, moving the legs, or breathe a little heavier. There is no need to do that.

The following is adapted from the article "Recovering Silence." It contains some very helpful tips. I have made some small formatting but the content remains as is.


Creating 'Sounds of Silence' in Worship

T.S. Eliot poetically asked, "Where shall the word be found, where will the word resound? / Not here, there is not enough silence." In order for that criticism not to be leveled at our churches, Marlene Kropf of Elkhart, Indiana—who directs the Office of Congregational Life for Mennonite Church USA—provides the following five suggestions. They are adapted from her article, "Unhurried worship," that appears on Leader Online.
  1. Begin on Saturday night. In Jewish tradition, Sabbath begins the night before. Encourage families and individuals to deliberately slow down their pace of activity on Saturday evening. In quiet moments, spend a few moments reflecting on the week just past and pray for those who will lead worship the next day.
  2. Plan the opening and closing moments. If a musical prelude is the tradition in your congregation, include a line of poetry or a centering prayer in the bulletin for those who desire a focus for meditation during the prelude. Occasionally ask people to enter or leave the sanctuary in silence. Let them feel the spaciousness of being together in God's presence without words to interfere.
  3. Slow down your Scripture readings. Frame Scripture readings with silence. Let each word be spoken distinctly and lovingly. Once in a while, provide two or three minutes of silence for worshippers to reflect on God's call to them through the text. Select musical responses to Scripture readings that open a space for receiving the Word. Or choose a short refrain to sing after each portion of text is read, engaging the congregation in prayerful dialogue with the Scripture.
  4. Avoid clutter. Pare down unnecessary words and actions. Try eliminating all words of transition and announcements of song numbers, relying instead on the bulletin or overhead. Such paring back may not only improve the sense of flow in your service, but also add more contemplative space in worship.
  5. Let your prayer time be contemplative. Provide ample space for prayer. Instead of relying on many words, precede or follow the pastoral or intercessory prayers with silence, or include moments of silence within the prayer for people to offer their own petitions to God.


No comments:

Latest Posts