Jesus seems to understand that impulse. And he also understands the place of, the time for, silence. The need to hold that encounter, experience, within as a treasure and gift for you alone for a while, or maybe even always.
Your dear friend tells you of a new job, a new life growing, an impending prize or honour soon to be announced – but that news is, for now, a gift for you alone. To treasure in your secret heart. Honoured. Trusted. Loved such that you are brought into a sacred sharing.
You want to sing, dance, shout your excitement, pride, joy with one you love!
But, no. Now is the time for silence. For restrained joy, for holding a promise sacred and precious.
And it is not about you.
To speak too soon risks overlaying ourselves onto this sacred precious news or moment or revelation of God. And that would tarnish it somewhat, wouldn’t it?
There is time for me.
And there is a time to step out of the way in respect for another, for God.
There is a time to keep silent. Epiphanies, Divine acts and revelations are often such times to keep silent. In order to honour, pay attention, listen.
In the Psalm for today, the psalmist cries – God does not keep silent! When it is time for God to speak, it is time for us to be silent, to shut up and listen.
The mighty one, Holy One,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
3 Our God comes and does not keep silence,
before Them is a devouring fire,
and a mighty tempest all around Them.
4 God calls to the heavens above
and to the earth, that They may judge Their people:
5 ‘Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!’
6 The heavens declare God righteousness,
for God Themself is judge.
And with such a call to gather back into God’s presence, Transfiguration Sunday ends the season of Epiphany with a turning towards Ash Wednesday and Lent – speaking of times and seasons.
We don’t apportion these things into seasons of exclusivity, however – so that, now Epiphany is done, it’s not as though stories of Divine encounter will no longer be told this year.
We give time to various parts of the story of the life of followers of God, to see them each clearly; to remember what we may have forgotten.
We move through seasons to honour the depth and breadth of our lived experience. Societal rules of some times and places around mourning, and how long to wear black, for example, might seem rigid – but this is one way a culture holds time and space for grief. Gives to everything its season. To privilege one element of life over others leads us to become unbalanced: only to grieve, or only to dance – neither is healthy.
Not only is there a time for everything – but there must be, for health and wellbeing.
So we keep our silence in moments of Divine revelation, long enough to linger with the awe …
We turn our focus in the coming season to confession and lament long enough to truly turn ourselves back to God, deep enough to carry the memory and the renewed practices with us through all seasons
We climb the mountain each Sunday, each day if we can, seeking God’s presence, bringing our attention back to God
We stop. look back. look around. attend to the health, strength, opportunities for growth as a community, as we embark on this new season with a new ministry team, and as we emerge from a traumatic year.
There is time for everything, a time for each story, as we, and the seasons, turn.