1: January ~ Blessing of Silence and Rest

The start of a new year: a time to renew and get back on track. But before carrying out our resolve for the year, it serves to remember that rest and silence are also valuable.

Winter’s natural stillness allows a welcomed pause to the frenzied pace of our lives. As the activities of the year come to an end, we may also feel the need to slow down. The boisterous hum of family life and work is now replaced by quietness, if only for a moment.

The month of January is a good time to avail yourself to silence and rest. Do these appear as strangers to us? With practice, silence and rest can become trusted friends that fill us with deeper awareness, recharge us, and provide greater creativity for the tasks that await us in the coming spring.

In the spirit of this month’s blessing, consider fasting or preparing a simple meal on the day of the blessing. Gather with family or friends in the early evening. Light a candle. After a moment of silence, begin this service:

 

Opening Prayer

Loved ones, let us open our hearts. God of the ages, You call your people to seek You in the quietist of places. Free us from what detracts and blinds us; let us behold your marvelous Presence. Renew us by the teachings of your Word so that we may live more abundantly. When life around us appears dark, make us a harvester of Light. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Song of Praise: Verses from Psalm 62 (2-3, 8-9, 11-12)

Response: Only in God will my soul be at rest.

 

My soul rests in God alone

from whom comes my salvation.

God alone is my rock and salvation,

my fortress; I shall never fall.

Response: Only in God will my soul be at rest.

 

My deliverance and honor are with God,

my strong rock; my refuge is with God.

Trust God at all times, my people!

Pour out your hearts to God our refuge!

Response: Only in God will my soul be at rest.

 

Do not trust in extortion;

in plunder put no empty hope.

On wealth that increases,

do not set your heart.

 

One thing God has said:

strength and mercy belong to God;

For You repay to each of us

according to our deeds.

Response: Only in God will my soul be at rest.

 

Reading: Luke 10:38-42

Martha and Mary

As they continued their journey, Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary, who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.

Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”

The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

 

Selective Readings from Scripture

Exodus 20:8-11

Remember the Sabbath day: keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

 

Psalm 62:1-2, 5

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him.

 

Psalm 116:7

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.

 

Isaiah 40:28- 31

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

 

Matthew 11:28

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

 

1 John 3:19

This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence.

 

Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with  thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which  surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ  Jesus.

 

Silent Reflection, or invite sharing of thoughts & feelings

 

Closing Blessing

(Invite everyone to gather around a lit candle. Dim or turn off other lights.)

Let us prayer: O Lord, we long for your peace. We come to you like Martha, racing about with busy hands and minds, but with our hearts that are left closed and empty.

We also come to you in silence, like Mary who ceased all activity to sit at your feet and listen, ready and willing to receive what you alone can give.

Bless this silence. Teach us to recognize the treasures it gives and to desire it more often.

Bless this rest. Help us to trust it with the same faith which we give to work. Strengthened by our participation in holy silence and rest, may we come to see in winter not a death that is a final ending, but rather an opening that leads to the next life.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.