I was thinking about silence in church the other day. Silence is so precious. Not always in a good way, mind you. If you aren't able to hear something, that silence is overwhelming and frustrating and can leave you feeling helpless.
But at times silence is what is needed. God is prominent in the silence. When what's his name was looking for God - where was God found? Not in the noise, but in the silence.
I think about this when we seem to gloss over the silence in worship. There's a time, at least in our Confession & Forgiveness portion, specifically set for Silence for Reflection. This seems to last maybe 10 seconds (and that's generous) and then we jump into the confession part. Then there's time during the prayers where "time" is offered for people to offer up prayers to God for those they have in their hearts. 3 seconds...maybe 5.
I'm a big fan of the silence. Steve, one of my profs in seminary, loved the silence and really helped me to feel the importance of allowing people to feel the silence in the service. His thing was especially during the prayers that he would start to think of those who he wanted to pray for but by the time I was ready the pastor had already jumped back in, or he didn't even get that option because the 3 seconds turned to 1.
Once when I was substitute preaching at my home congregation I reveled in the silence. My mom told me later that people were very uncomfortable with it. I realized later, much later, that I should have explained it - why I was giving so much more time to the silence. I think people go to worship expecting to be fed, but don't realize that sometimes they have to take the spoon. And so when I let the silence open up for enough time for everyone to really think, it ended up being that they weren't really thinking about who may need prayers but instead wondering, "Why isn't she continuing the prayers?!?! What's wrong with her?"
I like the silence. It's good for me to own up to my sins to God in that silence of reflection and confession. It's good for me to remember other people during the prayers since so much of my life is focused around myself.
It's good to let God in during that time. It's good to just be and let the spirit of God wash over you in that Silence.
To quote Zack Siler in "She's All That" - "Be still. Be silent."