Those of us who call ourselves Quakers today grew out of a rather rag-tag 16th century group known as the Seekers. Today they would fit right in, since many churches offer “seeker” services. But in the 1650s there wasn’t any such thing. So these women and men from all religious groups came together and worshipped in silence.
That’s because they believed that the Spirit speaks loudest when we are silent. George Fox taught them that, “Christ was the true teacher within; and that God was come to teach His people himself.” If they wanted to be taught by Christ, “the true teacher within,” then they reckoned that being silent was the best way to hear their teacher.
350 years of Friend-ly practice has shown us that the Holy Spirit grants us insight and guidance when we wait in expectant silence. Quaker silence helps us learn God’s will.
That’s important if we believe that faith and daily living should somehow reflect and have an impact on each other. Holy silence infuses us with God’s power so that we can live faithfully in every part of life – even the normal, everyday stuff. As English Friend William Littleboy wrote, “God is above all the God of the normal. In the common facts and circumstances of life He draws near to us, quietly He teaches us in the routine of life’s trifles, gently, and unnoticed His guidance comes to us through the channels of ‘reason [and] judgment’… we have been taught by Him when we least suspected it; we have been guided … though the guiding hand rested upon us so lightly that we were unaware of its touch.”
This “guiding hand” that rests lightly upon us is best felt when we are silent and still.
So at this season of busy-ness and noise (even the holy noise of carols), let's take time for some silence and stillness in order that we might truly experience Christ's coming -- in our souls.