Silence Over Words

“The Godhead deserves our attention, and we approach and honor it through silence more than through words.”  This quote from Meister Eckhart was in my devotions this morning from Christian Mystics, by Matthew Fox.  It is devotion #134 of 365, and it really hit home today.  I posted a piece in my blog yesterday afternoon on “Respectful Disagreement” and a short time later got a notice from WordPress, my blog platform that I have never seen before.  It simply said that my blog stats were taking off.  I looked up the stats and was amazed that there had been 48 views of that piece in just an hour.  And the hits just kept coming all day!  There were 130 views by days end and another 29 this morning, far more in 24 hours than anything I’ve written in 11 years of blogging. 

I’m quite sure that it is not my writing but the urgency of the topic that is attracting the attention.  There are obviously a lot of people feeling the need for respectful disagreement, and God knows we should be.  But all that aside I could not help from feeling pretty proud of myself.  And along comes God speaking thru Meister Eckhart and Matthew Fox to put me in my place yet again. 

Here’s the full quote from Eckhart –

“God is a being beyond being and a nothingness beyond being. The most beautiful thing which a person can say about God would be for that person to remain silent from the wisdom of an inner wealth. So, be silent and quit flapping your gums about God.” 

That smarts for a preacher and writer who has spent the last 53 years talking about God.  It reminds me of hearing somewhere that trying to talk about God is like biting a wall.  Words as inadequate as they are remain the primary tool we use to try and communicate the uncommunicable mysteries of existence.

Of course here I am still trying to capture the uncapturable with my puny words instead of just shutting up and living in mystery.  Silence and surrender are just so uncomfortable that I cannot tolerate them for long.  I know I will write about this again soon, but OK, God, for now I will be still and know what I cannot “know.” 

Pastoral Prayer for August 26

O Eternal One, we come again today to seek sanctuary from a world that bombards us with continual missiles of bad news: Hurricanes and flooding in Hawaii, gruesome murders in Colorado and Iowa, political turmoil in Washington and serious ethical issues about domestic abuse that raise hard questions in churches, at Ohio State and other places throughout our nation. We pray for all victims of any kind of abuse and for the leaders of society wisdom and compassion. Our hope is that such painful situations will be learning experiences for all of us so we can improve our own relationships and reaffirm the values of human dignity for all.
As we begin another season of classes here and in your churches, synagogues and mosques everywhere, we pray for your blessings on those servants who teach and all who learn that we will grow closer to the kind of world community you envisioned at creation and are continually trying to redeem and renew.

Remind us again O God that conflict and troubles are not new to us – they are a part of the human condition, a price we pay for free will. But remind us also of the saints who surround us like a great cloud of witnesses who have been through stormy seas and came out on the other side. Let us hear again the words of faith and hope like those of the psalmist:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam.”

Remind us that you are the one who says, “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” Let us be still enough to appreciate the beauty and goodness that is still around us even in the darkest times – the compassion and comfort of friends and strangers, the prayers that sustain us in trying times. Let us be still enough to restore our strength and faith – to know we are not called to do more than we can do – to just be still and know your presence…… [silence]

In the holy silence let us hear the still small voice that assures our souls that the tumult of humankind will not have the final word because “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”

No where do we draw more strength and confidence than from Jesus the Christ who taught us how to stay calm in the storm and how to pray……

Northwest UMC, Columbus, OH