A Liturgy of Silence

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Liturgy means so many things to me- this is the second installment of a four part series I am posting on this topic

I used to think that yoga was all the silence I needed. My instructor speaking to us about our next pose, a scripture playing in my mind. This sunset yoga class was my comfortable silence. The class was purposeful silence—or maybe silence is the wrong word. I was quiet, but the instructor was not, the teens leaving basketball were not, the staff cleaning up the pool were not; but I was and I was doing something.  And yet, lately I have been encouraged to seek the Lord in silence—no music, no conversation, no words flowing from my pen—just sitting quietly in the presence of the Lord.

These moments have not been easy, they have been wrought with mental check lists, daydreams, wandering thoughts and self doubt. I have sat in a beautiful cabin, on a hillside overlooking the expanse of Kansas farm land, and on a bench in the midst of the city—and I have heard nothing. Nothing but a buzzing fly trapped by the window, a train bringing grain from the heartland to the rest of the nation, and the hustle of the people and cars going about their busy lives.

I think the quiet and the silence are not the issue, maybe it is the stillness, the feeling that either my body or my mind must be active, that both can not rest at the same time. But that is crazy, I do not think I am wired that way. And yet, those who I seek instruction from say, “Do not force it,” “Be still,” “The Lord wants to speak to you in the quiet,” “Be available to the presence of the Lord.”

I know He is there, and yet in the liturgy of stillness and the sanctuary of nature I feel lost. Maybe because this place is not my home, perhaps the silence makes me uncomfortable, or I just do not know how to listen to the Lord the way I listen to people. I often equate stillness to idleness even though they are not the same thing.

I am learning how to show up in the Divine Presence and just be. I am training my ear to hear, my heart to listen and my mind to seek His truth, especially in the stillness.

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A Caffeinated Liturgy

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Every Sunday I head to Reverie Coffee Roasters on Douglas and order a drink from some the best baristas in the country. They know my name, ask how my week has been and make me a mocha or latte that is delicious and beautiful. I take my simple white mug and plate to a table or the counter and spend two hours reading, writing, journaling, or praying. This has become an integral part of my Sunday liturgy. This is an intentional space that is a set aside to meet with the Lord.

These Sundays at Reverie have yielded significant spiritual growth and personal awareness, but beyond that it has led to some unique conversations. One week there were two young men sitting near me talking about the small-mindedness of Christianity. I interjected and we spent almost an hour talking about how Jesus loved people who were different than himself, and that there are followers of Christ in Wichita who love Jesus and people. We departed ways with smiles and Facebook friendships.

There was a Sunday when I was having a hard time staying focused on my reading. I also forgot my headphones and I overheard the girls next to me talking about Drake and Rihanna. One of them could not remember what awards show they had just made appearances, and I offered, “The VMA’s.” After that we spent several shallow moments talking about how we love that Rihanna has finally found a good man. Then we spent many deep moments talking about the book and Bible on my table. Now, most Sundays we wave to each other as Julie* counsels women from her church and circle of influence and I study and pray that truth and wisdom will reign in her conversations.

There was that eavesdropping incident a week ago, and then there was this past Sunday, as I sat at the counter between a man in uniform and a young women journaling. The man in the Air Force was talking about the lack of good Indian food in Wichita with one of the baristas and I agreed as I was pulling books out of my bag, Desiring God’s Will by David Benner, the Bible, and a journal. We chatted for a few minutes about ethnic food and moving here from the east coast—he was a transplant from DC, and I was one from Philly. We talked about Michigan in the fall and he shared that his wife is from there. We realized quite quickly that she is from the town where my parents now live, where I had just been visiting.

He glanced at my books, and asked, “So are you a pastor in town?” My heart swelled with joy. This manly man asked me—the woman with purple hair and a nose ring—if I was a pastor. I answered no, and told him about World Impact and what I do. He wanted to know about my books, because he was going through a study at his church on God’s will. We talked a bit more, then he headed home. And I thought to myself, I love this place.

Over the past year Reverie has become my church. These are my people, these are the stories that matter, these are the people who influence me and who make me think. This Sunday liturgy has become so much more than reading, writing and praying—it has become community and home. Although I am not a pastor today, maybe someday I will be. Listening to and loving people seems to be something I am good at.

*Name changed for privacy.

Eavesdropping

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I am an eavesdropper; I love to listen to the conversations around me. Today, as I sat at my usual coffee shop, I listened to two young women in deep discussion about God’s will and how to pray for direction. I was encouraged.

I was encouraged by their honesty with one another. They asked and answered tough questions about their spiritual lives. I was encouraged as they spoke of their gender. They acknowledged that it would not be easy, but overall they wanted to be obedient to the Lord.

These two had no idea I was typing about them, pausing as they talked about the struggle that is figuring out the future. These two twenty-somethings want to work in the church, they want to be of use to the church, and they have no idea where to begin. I really wanted to butt in, join their conversation, interject where I was not invited—I did not. But I did pray for them.

These are the words I found myself praying-

Lord,
Give them boldness to venture down the paths they are unsure of.
Instill crazy amounts of trust that leans on You, and you alone.
Continue to grow in them hearts of prayer that seek Your face and wait on Your response.
Bring a confidence that can only come from You, a confidence that comes from connectedness to Your Spirit.
Allow peace to wash over them as they long to bring Your truth and love to those who are hurting.
Father, please do not let others extinguish the fire they have for You and Your Bride. Grow this passion and create space for them in Your Church.
Create space for these young ladies to use their gifts to build the Kingdom and edify the Bride.
Lord, please keep them in Your hand, keep them in community, keep them close so that they may draw others to You.
Use these younger ones to bring healing, hope, and equality to Your Body.
Amen

Hearing these two young women talk, my hope for the future of the church was renewed. They will find a way to serve and obey the Lord, no matter what their current leadership says. I will continue to pray this prayer over the girls, young ladies, and women in my life—including myself. May obedient women link arms and advance the Gospel, even while eavesdropping.