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A World without Unnecessary Words. Sounds nice...An Advent Reflection.

“Unnecessary words.” There are more than enough today.

It’s an interesting phrase to meditate on in the middle of a season marked by a posture of waiting, being still, listening, looking, and watching. A time of NOT SPEAKING. One thing I love about the winter season in Pennsylvania is the quiet “sound” after a fresh snowfall as if the land is tucked with insulation. The muffled movement of the fox wandering the field as he gently walks and quietly waits. It’s a kind of repose that goes deep into my bones.

The lack of silence today has resulted in an overload of disorganized chatter. It rushes at us all day long. We exist most days in something like a room with 15 Tv screens blasting at the same time, each with a different video, advertisement, or sound. Picture yourself there.

What would that sound like?

How would that space impact your ability to think or process?

How likely are you to pray?

How long would your attention last?

What information would you genuinely take in from each blast of noise?

How able would you be to engage in conversation with someone else in the room?

Is it likely you would be aware of the presence and peace of God?

Our brains are assaulted by the offensive line of unnecessary words all day long.

“We are silent in the early hours of the day because God is supposed to have the first word, and we are silent before going to sleep, because to God also belongs the last word.”

Bonhoeffer wrote this many years ago, before the deluge of the internet. Without silence, we have no purification of thought. There are so few pauses in our days that words have no place to be sorted out and discarded. Tamed or reshaped. We become savage when words are used without distillation.

Silence allows raw emotion and reactionary thought to decompress and wait on wisdom to come. Oh, the goodness of restraint. Oh, the blessing words can provide after first ordered in silent spaces.

We need God’s care and discretion. Prudence is no longer a value among humankind; sadly, it is no longer found in followers of Jesus. But more than that, silence connects us to Him. His stabilizing love secures us so that we become less needy and grasping. His influence over us will result in lives of meaning and humility, selflessness, and calm.

Silent rhythms lead us more quickly to Him, our Prince of Peace.

And Lord knows, we need more Peace, both within and without.

So here is my Advent challenge to you: Choose silence. Don’t let it "happen upon” you, rather seek it out. Seek HIM out. Over the course of your Advent and Christmas season, find at least 3 times to sequester yourself with no phone, no reading, no podcast. Maybe in your closet, maybe in your car parked somewhere away from all the demands, maybe on a drive, maybe at a church that remains open for meditation, maybe in a spare bedroom…

Tell those who may interrupt you that you are going to be unavailable for 30 minutes. And if you can’t start with 30 minutes, begin with 5 or 10.

Your thoughts will race. Words and emotions will rise up. As C.S. Lewis says, “All your hopes and wishes rush at you like wild animals.” Your thoughts will resist the silence. It's normal. Find a phrase to calmly repeat: “Jesus, you are my home.” “Father, thank you for your faithful love.” “My soul is at rest in you.” “You delight in me and I delight in you.” It will seem odd. But remember, Christians participate in counter-cultural things so as to keep in step with His strange Kingdom. Advent is a Kingdom value. In time, you will experience the blessing of peace. Trust the process.

Bonhoeffer goes on to write, “Silence before the word leads to the right hearing and thus also to the right speaking of the word of God at the right time. A lot that is unnecessary remains unsaid.”

"A lot that is unnecessary remains unsaid."

What a nice world that would be.

Like this reflection?

* If you are interested in my 2022 Advent Series: sign up HERE

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