Updated: Apr 23, 2021
Reading (Psalm 46)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Last Saturday, like many millions of other people around the world, Rob and I watched the funeral of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. It was a beautifully well-orchestrated event. Each person was in exactly the place that had been allocated to them. The timing of everything was immaculate and to finish it all off the weather was lovely. There was sunshine and a clear blue sky over Windsor Castle, it couldn’t have looked any better than it did. At 3 o’clock a minute’s silence was held. It has to be said that it had been fairly quiet up to that point, apart from the occasional very loud bang from the guns firing a salute, but at the allocated time silence was kept.
It wasn’t the silence that struck me as I watched, but the stillness. For a short period of time everything stopped. All the soldiers and military personnel, all the mourners and the clergy, all were completely still.
Silence and stillness are not the same thing as each other. I am quite good at being silent when it is required, but I am not good at being still. My mind seems to be constantly thinking about one thing or the other. During the years that I was a school teacher I often required silence from my pupils, either so that they were listening to me or each other, or because they were undertaking an activity that they needed to do on their own, such as a test or examination. I rarely expected them to be still; even in the silence there was activity.
Before crossing a road, or a railway track we are taught that for our own safety we should ‘Stop, Look and Listen’. The first important thing we have to do is stop, once we have stopped then we are able to look and listen in order to see if it is safe.
In Psalm 46 we are told to ‘Be still and know that I am God’. If we don’t stop, if we don’t give ourselves time to be still then we miss a chance of getting to know God better. We may not be good at being still, I know that I am not, but it is something that we should practice doing, for in the stillness we may meet with God and who would want to miss doing that?
Prayer (by David Adam)
Take me, Lord, from busy-ness
To the place of quietness
From the tumult without cease
Into your great unending peace.
Help me then, my Lord, to see
What I am and ought to be.