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the sound of silence – andrew butcher


A preacher friend of mine recently lost his voice. I suggested to him that he could start his sermon with a moment of silence… a very long moment of silence.

I said it in jest, but there is something to be said about the preacher who says nothing.

There are moments when we, as preachers, as worshippers, as fellow pilgrims with others on this journey of faith, are faced with that which strikes us dumb. It may be devastating news, for which even well-meaning words ring hollow. It may be the holiness of God, for which the best-formed words are inadequate. It may be in response to the working of the Spirit, in which our spoken words need to give way to God who is speaking to us.

And indeed preaching is always us speaking after God. We may, of course, speak about God, even to God, but it is God who speaks life and all living things into being. And a sermon, drawing from Scripture, is indeed a living, breathing word of life.

We may be inclined to want to start God’s sentence for Him, perhaps even to finish it too. We may be taken by the sound of our own voices or distracted by the many other voices that crowd our space. We may be reluctant or hesitant to listen. We may be fearful of what silence might bring.

But if silence is, among other things, unspoken prayers – an opportunity for God to speak to us and to his people – then perhaps we need more of it. Perhaps we need to start or end our sermons with the sound of silence. And trust that God, who invites, again and again, those who have ears to hear, may have our attention. And out of that silence we may hear God speak.


  1. Cam Gracey says:

    Hello darkness my old friend….(sorry couldn’t help myself)…

  2. AndyM says:

    wearing the hat of a pastor, and ministering pastorally to individuals you can certainly sit in silence when there is nothing more to add, or when the right words are not present, but how do you preach the word when silent?

  3. AndyM says:

    I realise that I’m well and truly behind the times, but I came back to this blog post in light of seeing a recent babylon bee article (the christian equivalent of “the onion”)

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