The Sound of Silence
“Instead of singing in the temple, they will cry and weep.
Dead bodies will be everywhere.
So keep silent!
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Amos 8:3 (CEV)
Several times of silence have been observed this year. Examples include when world leaders joined arms in solidarity after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris; when Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited Bergen-Belsen, the former Nazi concentration camp; and today, when so many around the UK will pause at midday in order to grieve for the victims of last week’s terrorist attack in Tunisia.
The modern origin of observing a time of silence appears to go back to South Africa at the time of World War One, and was actually a two minute silence: one to give thanks for those had returned alive from a brutal war, and the second to remember respectfully those who had lost their lives.
In the book of Amos God declares silence because things could not get any worse. A better rendition is “Hush!” – don’t make a sound: so many have died and there is no time to care for the dead. The horror is so great that there is no inclination to talk. The historical setting is a time of national catastrophe that had begun with a massive earthquake. Some project Amos’ frightening prophecies onto an end of the world scenario, when everything appears hopeless because we human beings never learn.
Amos, however, points to a note of encouragement. There is hope because God will intervene. “In that day I will restore”, says God (9:2). It is as if God is saying, “Enough. No more. Be silent. Because I love you I will come to you and restore. The tragedy of death is not the end”. It is in Jesus that God brings this hope.
In silence let us grieve with those who grieve and remember those who have died. Also, know that God remembers them and all who die, and gives each of us an eternal hope in Christ Jesus.
Father of all comfort, thank you that you remember everyone who dies, and that in Jesus there is hope for all of us in this tense and dangerous world. In Jesus’ name.
Study by James Henderson
About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.