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I don’t know about you but I regularly yearn to unplug, to slow down. And yet in the hectic-ness of life, I only realize that deep need within me in unexpected, or providential planed moments of authentic silence. Then I have to wonder why I’m frustrated at not feeling connected to God, or like I’m hearing or seeing what God is doing in the world. Heck, I barely slow down enough to listen to what’s going on with those around me, let alone myself. I’ve become so plugged into everything and everyone, that I am utterly disconnected.
Today’s story anticipates the challenges of our modern, technology-dependent, social media hyper-connected society that’s so deafening we can’t hear the poignant silence of the world around us. None of us are immune. I can’t stand it when someone walking in a crosswalk slows or stops to fiddle with their phone. Yet in the morning, among the first things I do is check Facebook and Twitter to see if I missed out on anything. One of my favorite thinkers, Krista Tippet, said recently that “religious places are some of the last places of silence [in our society today].” There aren’t many other places where we gather together, turn off, or at least down, our phones – and don’t mind terribly the moments of silence we share as a community. But are they perfunctory or purposeful? Is the silence in our worship the time delay to find the right page of the gospel reading, or an intentional authentic observation of silence and practice of presence?
Today’s scripture tells the mighty story of Samuel, who will replace Eli as the principal prophet/priest for the people of God. Samuel was born to Hannah, a faithful yet unfortunately sterile woman, who thanks to prayer ended up becoming pregnant and offering the blessing of her prayer as a servant to God. Working with Eli in the temple, it’s in this story that we see the reversal of their roles. Eli who was the master, will become the servant; Samuel who followed directions will be the one who relays the word of the LORD. It’s a story about a child, but it’s far from child-like or childish. It’s how the word of God is heard in a time when that was rare.
Today the average American spends 8 ½ hours a day in front of a screen, and spends no more than 2 or 3 minutes at his/her desk without being interrupted. Maybe our lack of silence is part of what the word of the Lord is rare?
Questions for going deeper: