Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Silence of God

That's what I'm interested in these days ~ the silence of God. Maybe I always have been.

Right now ~ what's going on in my own life doesn't reflect that silence. But I have experienced a long run of feeling God's abandonment and absence and, as I think about this morning's interview for a hospital chaplaincy residency for next year, I realize that many of my most passionate interests lie in the that arena.

In church we hear a lot of sermons about God's dependability, God's consistency, God's abiding presence with us. The relentless of that message, the complete lack of subtlety with which it is preached, accounts, I think, for a great deal of the absence from church by those believe that their experience rules out its truth.

There are a lot of people like that. People who have never had any particular reason to believe one way or another about God, people who have drifted away from the religious roots of their childhood, people who have experienced great trauma to which the response of the church has been inadequate. People who for whatever reason have not felt or recognized or been able to imagine God present in anything at all, let alone in all things.

I think that those are the people to whom God is inviting me to be especially present.


  1. I have lived all my life in a country in a constant state of turmoil, so nothing in my everyday experience inclines me to beleive the preachers who tell me that God is constant, dependable and present. Much of my personal life reflects the national turmoil, confirming this wariness.

    Oftentimes I have heard preachers proffer eternal life, (at it's worst "pie in the sky when you're dead") as a compensation for suffering in this life. I often find myself rejecting this "compensation" and want to know how I live in faith Here, Now because that is where I am having difficulty. Later, the next life are too far away and too distant to make any impact on me - other as a source of irritation.

    I am comforted though, by the thought that there is someone, somewhere in the world from the Inside who is prepared to be present to those of us who are struggling with Today.

  2. As I have listened to a great many people, I sense they cannot move into the arena of wrestling with God...that is would somehow be offensive or reflect poorly on them as a person. And so they opt for the easy way out...which in the end is so very destructive.

    Now that I've said that, I am also aware of trying to meet them where they are at...which is sometimes incredibly difficult to do...and to offer an alternate reality by which to live.

  3. I like the blog title, Robin. Looking forward to your photos.


  4. I am leading the new congregation I've been asked to work with through a Lenten program on hospitality. On Monday I had an old-fashioned sieve full of flour that also included a few pretty fake "jewels" hidden in the flour. We passed the sieve around the table each shaking it until the flour was all gone. We then discussed the fact that discernment comes from the old French word for sifting or sorting. My question to them was, "what sorting do we need to do here at St. A in order to grow in hospitality?" Some of the insights initially were simply wonderful but we kept getting short circuited by the desire to move immediately to very superficial fixes. It is so hard to sit quietly with discomfort, let alone suffering and loss. The need for the type of ministry you are describing is so enormous...

  5. Your original "metanoia/shuv" post is still with me, undoubtedly part of what I'll speak to the kids at the detention center next Sunday. Hope you don't mind if I tag along here. Your words always come from deeper in and connect....

  6. And they need a pastor who accepts them exactly as they are! You would be excellent in this place.

    You have pretty well described my husband. He says he never received "the gift of faith," though he was confirmed in the church and has attended in the past. He just doesn't see any compelling evidence of the existence of God - yet he isn't sure. To have a pastor who understands the "not knowing," and accepts it, sounds like a kind of miracle, for people like him - and for people experiencing that sense of absence, even newly or temporarily!

  7. From the book of Revelation, I read the vision of the Seven Seals as a vision that identifies the things that prevent us from knowing the contents of "the scroll".

    (The scroll having something to do with the answer to the ultimate question about life, the universe and everything...)

    Anyway, the Lamb is found worthy of breaking the seals to reveal the contents of the scroll. As the seals break and fall to the ground, we get to see what they were. The things that keep us from seeing the contents of the scroll.

    Among those seals are the Four Horseman.

    Among those seals are the desire of the saints for vengeance (?!)

    But the last seal that the lamb has to break? Ah, that one is the most pernicious. The last bastion. I won't spoil it for you.

  8. I don't know about the woe. You aren't supposed to read Revelation in a linear fashion. It all happens in the present moment.

    Except for the war against the saints. That happened in 70 AD. And the letters to the seven churches. Those are a piece of art all by themselves.

    No, I think it's a recognition that the final seal that The Lamb must break is the silence of heaven.

  9. Oh, I'm pretty sure that God is. Somewhere. Just not here. That is what has been "constant" and "dependable" for the past 2 1/2 years.

    Your blogs touch me. And make me think. So sometimes I can't read them regularly - therefore the late comment.

  10. It's so difficult, isn't it, Anon? To remain present to that question when the silence is so loud.