Sunday, December 02, 2012

Sunday of the First Week of Advent

For 400 years God had been silent.

Priests still led worship, sacrifices were still offered, but no prophets spoke to the people. Messiah was nowhere to be found...

...until one day in the temple a priest burning incense has an encounter with an angel. Zechariah doesn't believe what he is told, he and his wife are both getting on in years, but the angel says they will have a son who will be filled with the spirit of God and prepare the way for the Lord.

His disbelief is understandable. I would respond in the same way.

The angel tells him he will be mute, speechless, until the child is born. So for nine months he says nothing. First God is silent, now Zechariah. Until finally, his son John is born, and Zechariah's first words are ones of praise to a God who has not abandoned his people. The canticle of Zechariah - the Benedictus, is recorded in Luke 1:68-79 and is part of daily prayer in many Christian traditions.

I envy Zechariah’s faith. I have difficulty dealing with the silence of God.  My voice is raised more often in complaint than praise. I shy away from silence and from stillness, something that is particularly easy to accomplish during the Christmas season. Yet Advent is an invitation to wait in silent anticipation.

Silence is a two-edged sword. It can shut down a conversation or lead the conversation past cliché into deeper waters. Silence amplifies my internal disquiet and gives it a space to speak. I may not like what it says, but there are lessons it can teach me. Silence is an invitation to step deeper into the mystery of God.

For reflection: How can you make space for silence today? 
What is silence trying to teach you about self, others, God?

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