Last night's Glasgow Baptist Prayer Gathering was very well attended and even if not everything went quite as I'd imagined or hoped most people from other churches seemed to have found it a broadly positive experience. I had tried to reflect the model I'd experienced at the last one (my first) whilst being true to who and what we are and I am.
One thing left me puzzled, and that was just how loud some of these people were. Our pianist was playing beautiful music as people arrived, music totally drowned out by loud voices. And at the end the very moment we spoke the final 'amen' a cacophony of voices began chattering without any pause for private prayer or contemplation. Never, ever before had I experienced the latter before. In almost every church I've been to (and that's a lot) after the final 'amen' everyone sits down quietly. Some people pray on for a few moments. Some people quietly collect their thoughts and their belongings. Some slip away quietly to make the tea or to retrieve children from Sunday School.
At the start of the service I read Psalm 46 with its injunction to 'shut up and focus on the one who is I AM' (crude paraphrase). Part of me wonders if that fell on some deaf ears. Part of me feels that's judgemental.
There were some high spots... the flickering tealights representing the Baptist churches in Glasgow and showing the obvious gaps in our mission (the poor and tricky east side of the city)... the singing of the Taize chant 'within out darkest night' with only the light of our votive candles to see by... the near stillness as I led intercession for a broken world. My highpoint was singing in the dark, standing, as it happened, right at the back, watching the flames defying the gloom and sensing that this is how God's presence is experienced in our weary, sin-sick yet beloved and beautiful world.
I love all kinds of worship. I can do loud, hand-clappy, hand-wavy. I can do total silence. I can do all points in between. I just can't do with an inability to take 'just a moment' of silence and stillness, just 'a goodly number of seconds' as Ang put it to remind ourselves just what this is really about.