July 28 – The Sounds of Silence

Visitors to the pastor’s study at LPC have sometimes wondered about the double doors on the wall just above the credenza. For good reason. It’s an odd place for a set of doors.  One might assume the pastor’s wet bar or big screen TV are hidden behind the doors. “Oh,” I said when they opened the doors ten years ago on my first tour of LPC as candidate for pastor.

It was winter when I settled into the pastor’s study, and other than missing some wall space to hang pictures and plaques, I did not much think about the oddly placed double doors above the credenza in my new office. But then summer came and with it Philadelphia heat and humidity and the thermostat in the office set the air conditioning to humming. Well, more than humming.  A mild roar, the sound of the approaching apocalypse, was more like it.

Behind the double doors above the credenza in the pastor’s study at LPC is the air handling equipment for the office AC. Clunk, boom, roar, became the rhythm of my summer days until the Trustees were kind enough to glue some acoustical foam to the back side of those double doors over the credenza in my new office.

I am in my tenth summer at LPC and I had pretty much gotten used to the muffled clunk, boom, roar of the office AC all summer long. You know, white noise, living near a freeway or under the flight path of a major airport. You hardly notice it anymore, and learn to speak just a little louder.

The AC system in the office at LPC had been faithful and loyal, soldiering on for nearly thirty years; its clunk, boom, roar providing cool air as the church staff and members went about the business of supporting and preparing for the work of ministry.   AC systems don’t live forever, though, and this past week the clunk, boom, roar system was replaced with something brand new.  The new system is quiet. If it hums, you can barely discern the tune. Thank you, Trustees and Harris AC for a great job done this past week.

Background noise. We get used to it. You learn to speak a little louder.

Our world is a noisy world.  It is filled with traffic noise and airplanes taking off and landing. They pipe background music into elevators and shopping malls. Waiting rooms at the doctor’s and dentist’s office keep CNN running all day long. Sometimes we turn on the television just to keep the house from being so quiet.

Psalm 62 is a Psalm of David. The man after God’s own heart writes, “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” David repeats the line “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,” twice.  Silence is a gift from God. In the silence God speaks. In the silence we hear God’s words of hope.

It does not take long to grow accustomed to background noise, the muffled clunk, boom, roar of the old AC system soldiering on.

Elijah did not hear God in the blowing of the wind, the rumble of the earthquake, or the roar of the fire, but in the sound of a low whisper (1 Kings 19:11-12 – what the old hymn calls “the still, small voice of calm”).  We, too, need times of silence in our noisy world.  We must learn to wait in and for the times of silence, for God speaks through the sounds of silence, his word a word of hope in a noisy and desperate world.

I won’t much miss the muffled clunk, boom, roar of the old AC system, though I had pretty much gotten used to it. Now not just to enjoy the silence of new system, but to learn to listen for God in the silence.

See you Sunday