A Time to Keep Silence and a Time to Speak

WEEK OF Pentecost 20

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven … a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1,8)

It was an odd day. I got to the office with great plans of cranking out some emails, crafting a couple of long responses to questions from parishioners, and a doing bit of work on my sermon for Sunday.  Instead I found myself enmeshed in a series of conversations, mostly live with a couple on the phone.  I simply couldn’t seem to get away from the dialogues ciurcling around the office environment.  And before I knew it, the morning was gone,

Then right after lunch I was called down to the hospital to see a member who had been admitted in an emergency status, and I found myself sitting in his room in virtual silence.  The person was non-communicative, but I was hoping to connect with his family.  I prayed a bit and sang a bit and recited a little scripture.  But for an hour I sat in complete silence, my phone not ringing and no one, including the nurses stepping foor into the room.

Later that day I had a lovely visit with one of our homebound couples, and we had a rich and vibrant conversation for more than an hour.  I am always struck by the wisdom present in this husband and wife, and by their keen observation powers, and the way they analyze the world around them.  I found it hard to leave.  We could have talked all afternoon.

The rhytm of the day brought to mind a poem I have copied in a devotional folder I have.  The poem is authored by an anonymous 17th century mother superior:

Lord, you know better that I know myself that I am growing older, and will someday be old.  Keep me from getting talkative, and particularly from the fatal habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

And I found myself thinking about the rhythm of silence and speech in my life, wondering where God may be calling me (and you) to the ministry of listening along with that of speaking.  The cynical philosopher of Ecclesiastes may have it right in that most familiar passage in chapter 3 of his book of wisdom.  This week, consider praying for the sense of balance that God offers in your listening and speaking, and see how that may change the way you view the world.

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Rev. Craig Ross

Senior Pastor

The vibrancy of life here at St. Peter’s makes my service on our staff a joy and privilege. Visitation, teaching and preaching are the ministries that feed my pastoral identity, as together our staff and lay members share in our missional calling … Building a community of faith by God’s grace.

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