Friday 28th May
Revelation 8: 1 – 5
When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar; he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that is before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth; and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
“When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour”…that is amazing and awesome!
We talk of heaven as an eternal place without the confines of time, yet for half an hour there is complete silence…many who know me would think that I might struggle with silence, but those who really know me, know that the prayer, worship and reflection that I draw nourishment from are the contemplative practices of Taizé, Iona and Northumbria.
When I read that there is silence in heaven for half an hour, I wonder what it is like to simply be in the presence of God in heaven and it be silent. To take the time to acknowledge the importance of what has taken place leading up to now and then pausing with God to take that in…the only other time I can imagine that happening, was at the beginning of creation when God saw that creation was good and then rested.
After the half an hour, incense is offered with the prayers of the saints…we, all of us, are the saints! It is our prayers that are mingling with the incense and rising before God! If you thought your prayers insignificant or unheard, I hope that you can believe now that they matter, and that God sees and hears every single one. Never think, “oh well all I can do is pray” because that is the most important action we can sometimes take.
We then end this passage with what looks like destruction, but as we see with nature, what begins as destructive, is actually the pangs of creation taking place, and this reminds us that as frightening as things can seem while we are experiencing them, we need to continue to trust in and lean on God always.
Boundless God, as we pause to wrap our minds around the awesomeness of what we read, fill us with your peace to know that you hear us in the silence, and you are with us in our darkest days when we are frightened and feel alone. Help us recall the wonder we have when hearing and seeing you at work and enable us to better trust you when things feel dire. Amen.