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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Silence

It is the body of Christ listening for the voice of God

I asked a member about her vacation and she told me about her visit to another church: “It just didn’t feel like worship.” “Maybe,” I suggested, “it was because you didn’t know anybody there.” She replied, “No, that’s not it. I think it’s because it was so rushed. I was out of breath by the time we reached communion.” I learned they don’t pause after the readings, sermon or during communion, and appreciated her adding, “I’m glad we do that here.”

For more than a year, we have made a conscious effort to observe silence on Sunday mornings—after the readings, after the sermon, during communion. And my friend’s observations proved those efforts were paying off. There is less throat-clearing, bulletin-rattling and bench-creaking. Fewer people look at the rafters or examine their fingernails. And a good number actually appear to be praying.

No wonder she described worship without silences as “breathless.” Try this: Either read to yourself or have someone read the order for communion without pausing. You soon get an idea of how the liturgy can be reduced to a torrent of words if periods of silence aren’t included. Without pauses, notice how soon you stop paying attention.


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