Sunday, December 20
“Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, O still small voice of calm!”
– John Greenleaf Whittier
“Mighty God, come to us. Come to us!”
–Arthur Honeggar, “King David”
“And it came about when the priests came from the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.”
– I Kings 8:10-11
Thankfully, God speaks in many ways. Otherwise, I may be less attuned, much like I tend to ignore the incessant sound of a malfunctioning car alarm. The symbols of earthquake, wind, and fire, and the cloud in the temple have always intrigued me. We have all, I hope, experienced God in these powerful and spectacular ways. I have. Playing the cymbal crash (who else could include this with symbolism?!) in King David when the chorus implores one more time “Come to us!” made me feel the earthquake and feel the cloud. Other times, it was as if someone opened a window and a fresh, cool breeze seemed to bring fresh life and vigor. I have not heard God speak through a burning bush, but I believe that he has spoken to me through fiery trials.
These types of experiences are often profound and even at times thrilling. On the other hand, it is in stillness and quietness that God also speaks, perhaps more effectively. After the explosion in King David comes an equally moving quiet soprano singing “He’s here,” followed by soft choral alleluias. Grady Nutt observed, “Silence [pause] is loud.” The psalmist wrote, “Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Phillips Brooks penned, “How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given!”
I like my share of bombast and spectacular. I like my silence and solitude. I guess I need both, and perhaps a bit more of the latter. Whatever it may be, I need for God to speak to me, and for me to have ears to hear and mind and heart willing to follow.
Almighty God, speak to us, come to us, abide with us, be born in us, now and forevermore. In Christ’s name. Amen.
– Ray McClain