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The Stimulus of Silence
The Prayer Book Society of the USA ^ | June 11, 2005 | The Rev. Dr. Peter Toon

Posted on 06/12/2005 8:56:02 PM PDT by hiho hiho

Each of us is stimulated every day by a variety of persons and things. Everything from smells, tastes, sounds and touches to images, pictures, words, written and spoken, can affect us. By any of them we can be aroused in one or a number of ways and the activity of body or mind, or parts thereof, can be heightened or increased. We are “wired” in such a way that external stimuli, or even internal stimuli (from memory or imagination), affect us in many ways, and perhaps when we do not realize this is so.

We are all aware that we live in a society and culture wherein we are open to intense stimulation by both what we can hardly avoid (e.g., advertisements and the media) and what we can choose (e.g., music & images). In most cases, the value of this stimulation to us as human beings is debatable. Certainly it is not necessary, even if it seems unavoidable at times.

Everyone agrees that the stimulation of pictures of pornography and excessive violence and the use of certain drugs is good for no-one; but, there is a division of opinion as to whether such things as (a) the constant listening to loud music and (b) the regular looking at sexually explicit pictures and films, are good or bad.

To turn from the culture to the churches, it seems that many have taken the general position that the stimulus of loud music in a popular mode is a good thing, at least a good thing for young people. Further, it seems that many churches have also decided that the stimulus of images and pictures (using PowerPoint or the like) to guide communal activity (e.g., singing) works much better than the use of individual books and leaflets. Also it appears that communication of messages by means of the spoken word (e.g., “sermon”) is considered most stimulating when it is in a simple mode, with few if any demanding ideas and vocabulary, and appealing more to the affections than to the intelligence.

In this context, due to the intensity of the effects of the various stimuli, some people think that religious experience is only real when it is via “an emotional high” or “an intensification of feeling.” Thus they tend to go in search of places and opportunities where this form of experience is available or can be generated. They may even reply upon specific persons to be the means of achieving this elevated emotional state.

Of course, not everyone is driven by the felt need of intense religious feeling, but, generally speaking, most people in churches give the impression that they need to be either active in doing something (including talking) or, if inactive, listening to or watching something. They do not give the impression that God who is Spirit and invisible may be known in total quiet!

It appears to be the case that very few Christian people know the value of SILENCE in the sanctuary and in their hearts before the Lord OUR God! Yet the Word of God written in the Holy Scriptures urges God’s people to be silent and know that he is truly God. Our Lord Jesus Christ instructs his disciples to enter into the quiet place and there commune with the heavenly Father alone. In fact, the same Jesus Christ sets us a perfect example of being alone and silent before his Father in order to commune with him. It was his habit and pattern to do this daily! In fact he provides us with a perfect example of prayer that is silent, adoring and contemplative, as well as, when necessary, intercessory and petitionary.

If we are forever talking and in motion, if we are forever stimulated by this or that phenomena, then we miss out on the possibility of the STIMULUS OF SILENCE, which is used by the Holy Ghost to tune our hearts to Jesus Christ and through, in and with him to the Father.

We need to learn to be quiet in church before the service of worship begins in order to remember God’s presence with us; we need to be quiet for a while after hearing the word of God and receiving the blessed Sacrament in order to receive the blessings God is giving; and we need to be quiet at the very end of the service in order to appropriate what God has been giving to and telling us. Then, further, we need to be quiet daily in our busy days to hear what the Lord has to share with us! We need to be as ready to engage in contemplative as in petitionary prayer.

The LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him. (Hab.2:20)

TOPICS: Catholic; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; Mainline Protestant; Orthodox Christian; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: anglican; episcopal; powerpoint; silence; worship

1 posted on 06/12/2005 8:56:02 PM PDT by hiho hiho
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To: hiho hiho

This is very important and fundamental. The urge in many places is to fill up the church-goer with an experiential high, which only differs from drug highs in being non-chemical. The result is very similar: the impact is ephemeral and intense. And, as Canon Toon points out, it is also a useful way of avoiding open and humble contact with God. We emphasize silences in our services, allowing the congregation to feel the presence of God. This is the ancient practice and at least one perhaps unanticipated consequence is a over-riding sense of peace. One is not emotionally stimulated, but feels strengthened.

Then again, there is a time and a place for being emotionally stimulated in religion. It is just not usually a liturgical time or place.

In Christ,
Deacon Paul+

2 posted on 06/13/2005 4:18:54 AM PDT by BelegStrongbow (St. Joseph, protector of the Innocent, pray for us!)
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To: ahadams2; coffeecup; Paridel; keilimon; Hermann the Cherusker; wagglebee; St. Johann Tetzel; ...
Thanks to hiho hiho for posting this.

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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

3 posted on 06/13/2005 7:54:01 AM PDT by sionnsar (†† ||Iran Azadi|| WA Fraud: votes outnumber voters, court sez it's okay!)
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