Silence in a Chaotic World
There has been a lot of violence and chaos happening this summer. I mentioned a few Sundays ago in my homily at Lebanon Chapel that there has been a substantial increase in domestic and international terrorists attacks in the month that I have been a transitional deacon: the shooting at the nightclub in Orlando, the bombing at the airport in Istanbul and the attack in Nice, France where a man drove a semi-truck through a crowd of people gathered to celebrate Bastille Day. At home, several African-American men were killed by police officers in Minneapolis and Baton Rouge followed by five police officers being gunned down at a peaceful demonstration in Dallas. It seems like no one is immune from terror and violence. Where is God in all of this violence and bloodshed?
And then we come to the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, which has seen its fair share of noise and chaos. From Chris Christie who worked up the crowd in a frenzy shouting slogans about Hillary Clinton to the crowds at the Democratic National Convention booing and yelling inside and outside of the arena in Philadelphia. It seems like loud shouting, boos, and turmoil seem to be hallmarks of this summer’s party conventions. Where is God in all of the shouting and yelling?
And I think the chaos and fear that have occurred this summer have gotten a lot of asking questions of God’s whereabouts and presence: Where is God in all of this? Where is “the peace of Christ which passes all understanding?” “How can I ‘go in peace to love and serve the Lord where it seems like the world is falling apart?” I think all of these questions are valid and appropriate for this summer. We as Christians are always wondering how we can live in a world where it seems that God is allusive and perhaps not even around. I have asked these questions not only this summer but also during hard, difficult times in my life. We want God to answer our questions because we have no answers and desperately want to understand what is happening in our world. Trust me, I would like some answers about why people are killing each other at home and abroad.
While I would like God to answer my questions with a voice from heaven or even in my ear pods during one of my morning runs, God sometimes surprises us with answers in unexpected ways. I happened to look at my Facebook feed when I got home from church this past Tuesday and noticed that one of my professors from seminary posted that he was going on a retreat to a monastery in order to spend time in silence, meditation, and away from the world. While my first thought is that he was withdrawing from reality, I was reminded that Jesus often withdrew from the crowds, his disciples, the reality of Rome’s tyranny and oppression, and his teaching to be with God sometimes in silence. God often speaks to us in the times when we are silent and intentional about being in God’s presence with just our hearts and minds in order for God to speak to us about the reality of the world and what is happening in it.
“I cannot guarantee that God will offer easy answers, but at least we can take comfort and solace in the fact that God is present in our lives no matter what is happening in the world or in our lives.”
Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God.” A nice line but often hard to understand.
God was, is, and will always be in control of the world and what is happening in it even when it does not make sense and leads us to think God isn’t there. I invite all of us to take some time to be quiet with God when our worlds are loud, violent, noisy, and distracting. Take a few minutes or moments each day to be silent with God and be present with the one who created the world and everything that we see in it. Silently ask God questions and see what kind of answers God may give you in your heart, mind, or soul. And who knows, God just might help you make sense of the turmoil in our world today and give you peace that that will last for eternity.
The Rev. Tim Meyers grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and earned his bachelor’s degree from New Mexico State University. Prior to his arrival at St. James, Tim was the youth minister at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was active in youth ministry leadership at Kanuga Conference Center, the Charlotte Convocation Youth Ministry, and the Diocese of North Carolina. Tim graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary in 2016. Tim oversees the various Christian Formation programs and offerings at St. James. He enjoys preaching, teaching, and pastoral care. Tim is married to Whitney and they have a son, Henry.