Chaplain’s Musings – 16th May 2022

….and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence  1 Kings 19.12

1 Kings 19 are words from the experience of the prophet Elijah in the wilderness
followed by –
words of wisdom from the prophet / songwriter Bob Dylan:

…..Yes, and how many years must a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?
And how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
…..Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

…..Yes, and how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
And how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
…..Yes, and how many deaths will it take ’til he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Many if not most of the readers will be too young to have been around when this song was contemporary and will need to ask Mr Google for any kind of historical context ? Simple it is not, and the rhetorical answer ‘blowin’ in the wind’ can be interpreted in a number of ways.

The song has been at the forefront of my mind as the age old question returns to us people of faith who are also people of prayer –  how do we pray in these turbulent disturbing days?

I have just bought 2 books which tackle 2 opposite ends of the Silence spectrum.
One is when prayer, especially personal prayer, seems to fall on deaf ears. God is silent. Or so it seems. What does such a statement or experience evoke in you ?
The other is on knowing when as people of faith we need to speak out and NOT be silent. When we need to give voice to the voiceless, to those who have been silenced by power brokers. What does such a call or even duty evoke in you ?

I plan to read the two together in the hope that they might also speak to each other as well as to me. That has worked for me before.

But I wish to end on a beautiful note. The Church of Ireland (which covers the whole of Ireland) has the same Anglican liturgy we enjoy but it has a tradition built into that liturgy which is both beautiful and profound. It is called ‘the Great Silence’ and it comes just after everyone has received communion. Everything stops – there is no clearing up at the altar, there is no organist jumping in …. nobody moves…. there is silence and stillness…. allowing God to speak through all that has taken place so far  – through the Bible readings, the music, the prayers, the sacrament, the liturgy…… allowing the people to listen and to hear and receive and take into the new week.

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