This is the first Sunday of Lent. My pastor’s sermon was about making things quiet so we can listen.
Silence. We don’t get much of it in our lives. We used to live in the country and occasionally, when the snow piled up outside, the power would go out. The sudden silence could wake you from a dead sleep. We don’t hear it often.
Intentional silence allows us to focus. It helps us listen for the still, small voice of God. It helps us center our soul.
That works for me. It is so odd in this noisy world, that it awakes my sleeping soul.
But there is also a noise that wakes my soul. It is the noise of community.
Community is something Christians talk a lot about. Community is actually something humans talk a lot about. We talk about it in bars and around dinner tables and in our living rooms and in our churches. Though we talk about it, our souls remain asleep.
This morning at church, I was struck by a little girl–about 10 or 12–who stood to voice a prayer request. Through choked back tears, she asked for prayer for her parents who were having problems. She wanted to say more. She couldn’t. She handed the microphone back to the pastor and we moved on.
Our souls slept.
We think, “This is community.” We say, “This is community.” But it is not, for no one is awakened by it. It is not community. Instead, it is a cry for community.
That little girl was saying–probably without even knowing it–“My world is crumbling around me, someone show me there is still a place where I belong. Show me a place where people love each other and live in covenant. Show me a place where I can find community with other people and with God.”
But we were silent. We just continued to sleep.
God has shown me real kindness by allowing me to be awakened to the noise of community several times.
The noise of community sounds like the voices of friends sharing life together. Experiencing life in communion. The voices laugh and cry. The voices pray and shout. The voices encourage and chastise. The noise of community is the sound of people whispering to one another, “You are not alone.”
Every time I hear that noise, it awakens my soul and I hear the still, small voice of God. I hear it in the midst of the noise of community.
God, in the silence and in the noise, whisper to me, “You are not alone.” And God, please send the noise of community to that little girl. May she know she is not alone.