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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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62 Responses to 743

  1. Sophie says:

    I often find in the quiet bits in services i’ve just about managed to settle, and then the silence is over, and it’s tme to move on!

    How come it’s so hard to get quiet?

  2. Miriworm says:

    What was that I can’t hear you? :-D

  3. subo says:

    God speaks in mysterious ways

  4. Miriworm says:

    Mathew 21:16

  5. beatthedrum says:

    Is that them doing it or the Holy Spirit. If its the Spirit then we should just let Him and them get on with it.

    So maybe the vicar in that picture needs to get over himself, stop being so “Do as i say and do it my way” and let the Holy Spirit do His work.

    Of course if its the flesh then take them outside and shoot them…

    Love, grace and a heafty baseball bat of encouragement!

  6. That’s the bit of the service I hate the most (with a 4 yr old and a 2 yr old!)

  7. Rachel says:

    As a person who very much values silence within the liturgy (and who is fortunate enough to go to a church which also does so), I find that the noise often quietens down quite quickly if you hold the silence for a bit. God certainly moves in mysterious ways!

  8. kls says:

    i think it’s pretty much the same all along, it’s just that when the vicar stays silent, it’s more obvious :)

  9. beatthedrum says:

    We had a time in one of the churches i belonged to where the kids made such a racquet especially during times when people were prophesying or giving words of knowledge / wisdom / encouragement that you could not hear what was being said. So one sunday the elders made the church be silent for 5 minutes, and if a kid kicked off they were to be taken out and we started again, after 20 minutes we got the point!

    I do like a bit of legalism

  10. Elizabeth says:

    It’s not just church, my whole life feels like that!

  11. duttyo says:

    Sunday was Refugee Sunday so as part of my sermon i was talking about this scene from the film ‘Children of Men’…….

    As i was talking about the noise of fighting subsiding to the babies cry and making comparisons with the Christ child being the new born Prince of Peace the one baby in my congregation began to cry.

    It was one of the most perfect moments I have experienced

  12. Carole says:

    Jon – you missed the mobile phones going off – there’s always one!

  13. Carole says:

    Duttyo (11) isn’t it great when something like that happens right on cue? :)

  14. rebecca says:

    Everyone reacts differently to silence. On Sunday evening I went to a Taizé service, which included a block of silence (although in practice it was a long way from being silent, because of the noise from the road outside). Afterwards a friend admitted that he had spent the silent period reading the story of Taizé that appeared in the front of the song book.

    And a few weeks previously, at a different church, we had an even longer block of silence, but it was deliberately not completely silent, instead having some background music. I think the leaders were concerned that some people present would find complete silence too disturbing.

  15. rebecca says:

    Beat the Drum (#9): I’m not sure whether you are saying this is a good thing or not, but my opinion is that it is verging on cruel — both to young children and their parents — to put them under extreme pressure to remain quiet. Remaining quiet and still is not normal behaviour for very young children. If a church wants to be able to include children and parents in the congregation, it will just have to arrange services differently.

    If I remember correctly, Mike Riddell (a writer who has sometimes spoken at Greenbelt) said something about this in one of his books — he said it was unreasonable to treat young children as if they had the cognitive capacity of adults.

  16. jonbirch says:

    rebecca… i love mike riddell. he’s a friend as it happens. we had him round for tea once and clare cleaned the house and everything! :lol: he could have gone further and said it is unreasonable to expect adults to have any cognitive capacity, or for those who have to be patient with the rest. the thing is i guess, church should be open to all… but how you make a service work for all is beyond me. :-?

  17. subo says:

    the Iona community hold an un-missable quiet service, once a week, on Iona. it’s just awesome to be there

    also, silence invests us with equality, no longer are the dominators free to rant and control, the musicians can have a welcome break

  18. theseoldshades says:

    love that service subo :)

  19. Forrest says:

    Silence scares people, it makes them vulnerable.

  20. jonbirch says:

    i hate silence. wish i didn’t, but i do.

  21. jonbirch says:

    peace i like… but silence can be the noisiest place.

  22. theseoldshades says:

    Something I have stuck on my wall (alongside several ASBOs :D) is something I think jonny baker linked to once, part of which says:

    ‘We long for a silence, God,
    that is big enough to hold all the things we cannot say out loud.’

    and I think that when silence has that quality, of being a place where unbearable emotions, of joy or of pain, of happiness or of sorrow, can find a space where we can begin to accept them then silence becomes peace. Or at least the beginnings of it.

    Normally though silence makes me want to shout and make noise which can be problematic in exams :D

  23. Tiggy says:

    I went to a voice workshop at Bath Abbey this evening and the best bits were when we paused at the end of a line of singing to listen to the resonance tailing off into silence. Those really felt like very full silences that our singing had somehow created. I suppose it’s all the vibrations still in the air and in the stonework.

    As someone who talks a lot, I thought I’d find silence difficult when I went on a partially silent retreat, but I loved it. When the time of silence was up, we all wanted more.

  24. MissWright says:

    Conviction…when that time comes in service I usually have other “noises” running through my head (Did I turn the lights out before I left? What is everyone doing for lunch? I really like how that girl did her hair up. I can’t forget to tell the secretary blahblahblah…). Silence is such a discipline.

  25. bubbybird says:

    Meditation is not as easy as they say it is…..finding a silent place where you can shut your self down is hard to do when you have had a busy day. I’ve always had someone with me over the last 30 or so years for one thing or another. I can’t shower or go in the bathroom now without the cat following me and talking to me the whole time. Finding a place for silence is not easy!!

  26. bubbybird says:

    However, God still talks to me…..believe there is a verse that says “Be still and know that I am God”

  27. rebecca says:

    I’ve tracked down the quotation by Mike Riddell — it’s from his book God’s Home Page. An extract (it’s on page 148 of my copy of the book):

    “Children are very good at picking up the emotional atmosphere in an environment, and knowing when they are wanted. The best children’s programme in the world will not make much headway among a group who see young ones as a nuisance…

    “Children make noise. They cry out and run around and bang things loudly. Many adults find this a distraction, particularly when they are trying to listen to some pearls of wisdom from the front, or wanting to relate to God in quiet contemplation…

    “As a generalisation, I would say that church services err on the side of being too much oriented towards adults. They are highly verbal and cerebral, the sermons go on too long, and there is an unrealistic expectation of calm and quiet throughout the entire service.”

  28. rebecca says:

    Subo (#17): I worked on Iona in 1997, but after the first couple of weeks I couldn’t attend the silent service because a disruption occurred which meant I couldn’t take the silence seriously any longer. (I won’t elaborate because I don’t want you not to be able to take it seriously either). But that’s a long time ago — hopefully if I went back there now I wouldn’t see it in the same way.

  29. AnneDroid says:

    I’m incredibly easily distracted and not good even at sitting still, so I always sympathise with the wriggly noisy kids (four of whom are usually mine). There’s a wee lad with Tourette’s in our congregation too, and it would be wrong to put his mum under pressure to keep him quiet.

    But sometimes, when the kids are off elsewhere having fun and only grown ups have been present, I’ve been very blessed by silence in worship (on the rare occasions when I manage to fight being distracted).

    Duttyo #11 and Carole #13, I agree. Once in my student days, I was speaking to a congregation and comparing the change when someone becomes a Christian (a la “I am a new creation”) to a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, i.e. still the same creature technically but utterly transformed, when a beautiful and hitherto unobserved butterfly flew from one side of the church to the other and passed just in front of my face. Caused quite a stir!

  30. beatthedrum says:

    Rebecca #19 It was aimed at the parents not the kids. The parents need to keep their kids under control

  31. Chris says:

    Church could certainly do with more silence. Everything just to slow down, more silence between words, sentences, prayers. No hymns, just a short silence. Complete silence during and after Communion until the blessing. Can I add no electric lights as well?

  32. Chris says:

    Church could certainly do with more silence. More silence between words, sentences, paragraphs, prayers. Less hymns, more short silence. Silence after and during Communion until the final blessing. Can I also add no electric lights? Oh, it’s sounding positively beautiful.

  33. beatthedrum says:

    How can I stay Silent!

    Sorry i want to shout, sing, jump, laugh, shout and jump some more. Especially in church meetings, there is plenty of time for silence through the week in your own personal ‘quiet’ times for that. Lets come together and make a noise for Jesus, lets tell him how we feel, lets give Him the glory, lets shout His praise, lets applaud our King.

    I dont really like silence in church. Do we need silence to hear God, I think not.

    If God is who He says He is, and He is, then he does not need silence for us to hear him.

    However there is a time for silence…. on your own time!


  34. Chris says:

    #33 As long as parents don’t let their children make noise?

  35. rebecca says:

    Chris — that’s what I was thinking as well.

    It doesn’t surprise me that somebody who uses the nickname Beat the Drum likes to make noise.

    Beat the Drum — I request that you have some sympathy with parents who have difficulty keeping their children quiet — particularly in a situation where the children are likely to be bored (e.g. during a sermon?) It’s actually quite difficult.

    Another quote from Mike Riddell: “As a minister, I have listened over many years to the complaints of people on opposing sides of the divide: parents who get nothing from a service because they are intent on keeping their children distracted and quiet; and adults who get nothing from a service because they are distracted by the noise of children.” IMHO, the first of these problems is more serious than the second.

  36. beatthedrum says:

    I have three kids of my own Rebecca all under ten, it can be done with a bit of hard work when they are young.

    But then most parents dont want to put the hard work in, and would rather the church baby sat their kids so they can be blessed get something out of the service… which is of course all about putting something into it…

    I come from a charismatic back ground where we believe that God still talks to his people today through prophecy, so if someone is giving a prophecy it is important that we are abkle to listen to it without interuption. So quiet then is good. Or during a sermon when we are supposed to listen.

    But at other times… MAKE SOME NOISE!!!

  37. Chris says:

    #35 I agree Rebecca. To me, children are the heart of the church, no matter how much noise. I am at 3 churches, and only one of them has children. It makes a huge difference to everyone, especially when the only other people are all retirees. It is really good when parents at the end of the service say they really enjoyed it because they could relax, as no one cared that their kids were making a little noise. The church belongs as much to noisy kids as it does to quiet old people.

  38. jonbirch says:

    i find it quite amusing, the idea that children keep quiet so that the grown ups can hear what god’s saying. sounds like nonsense to me. i can almost hear god saying, ‘get over yourselves’. but those aren’t the kind of prophesies that make god popular.
    if you want everyone together, in the same room, put up with it. or else change what you do.

  39. beatthedrum says:

    I love the “Get over yuorselves” prophecies, but is it not rude to talk when someone else is?

    Isnt that in the bible…. oh yes so it is, lets throw that bit of the bible out as well….

  40. beatthedrum says:

    Children are not the heart of the bible how daft is that Jesus is!

    I am at three churches? how does that work, oh you attend three services then….

  41. beatthedrum says:

    ignore me chaps its my time of the month, no offence ment to anyone

  42. Chris says:

    #40 & 41.
    Yes, Jesus is the heart of the church, but a congregation loves children for who they are, and they make a congregation alive.
    And yes, I am at three churches. I am training to be a priest. That is how I can be at 3 different churches on a Sunday. It is busy! No offence taken.

  43. MMP says:

    “quiet old people…………?”

    in our place it’s about equals as to who makes the most racket!!

  44. Jonathan says:

    OK, here’s my top tip for encouraging a silent moment.

    You allow people to be noisy.

    Like REALLY noisy.

    But in a controlled – playful way.

    Here’s what you do – you tell folks that we’re going to play a game, and we’re going to enjoy both noise, and silence – and then you get folks first of all to do a mexican wave across the church, from one side to the other, then from front to back, then from the corner furthest away from the door, towards the door.

    Then you repeat the exercise, this time with noise, get people to be noisy, and make the noise move from side to side, front to back, then from the furthest corner away from the door all the way towards the door, then you have someone close the door, as if we’re shutting noise out for a moment. Hold the moment, let the noise back in.

    Do it again, only this time shut the noise out as long as you dare.

    There’s your moment.

    Kids love it, everyone gets it, it works. try it.

  45. jonbirch says:

    alternatively, go to football. :-)

  46. Robb says:

    This is one of the few situations I find silence easy. Lots of people around.

  47. Tiggy says:

    At my church the kids love the service. They love the music and they get to dance or wave coloured flags or banners – small versions of the large ones some of the adults wave. I spend a lot of the service watching them enjoying themselves. It’s not your regular sort of church service though.

    They go to their own groups half way through which are carefully aimed at different age groups from babies to younger teenagers. Volunteers run these on a rota.

  48. At my church kids are noisy (that’s a given and is expected), but so are some of the older people who have difficulty hearing (and for some reason do not use the deaf Loop)
    “What did he say dear?”

    Then we have a bunch of previously ‘unchurched’ homeless who come to the evening service because it is warm, and there is free tea, biscuits, and Christians trying to be ‘nice’ They can sometimes be drunk and disorderly. Once we even had a great big lovers tiff (‘so and so’ grassed ‘on ‘so and so’ to the police “You call yourself a Christian now!”

    Then there’s the ‘yuff’ (11 – 15) from nearby council estate who think it’s quite funny to make farty noises, walk up and down and the church and laugh loudly during the sermon. I say ‘throw them out’ until they learn some respect, but was told that my attitude was ‘not loving’. So does that we do not challenge bad behaviour? How loving is THAT?

    Then there’s that woman who sings out when everyone is silent. Her voice has this sharp piercing quality that is not easy on the ears.

    I think I’ve come to accept that my church will never be a quiet church.

  49. Robb says:

    Kim – The African

    It’s hard. We want people to come in as fully formed people. We want to see them behaving as we expect and then they are acceptable to come towards God and hopefully they will go on to believe. Then we will allow them to belong.

    Unfortunately people come through a different route. They need to belong before they can start believing. It is only then that they can start to behave.

    If you watched the ,a href=”http://www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/C/can_you_believe_it/debates/priest.html”>priest idol programme a few years ago they took a church with a congregation of 6 people and tried to connect with the local council estate. They invited the local yoof in to the church and they sat in a pew feeling awkward whilst they were in an unfamiliar place and doing unfamiliar things.

    Along came the church wardens (probably the 6 who were left) and told them off. Then they reacted bemused by the fact that they had been invited in to be told off. Then the church warden walked along the back of their row and pulled their hats off one by one.

    And they walked out. And told their friends… and what was the good news?

    Church tells you off for the clothes you wear and for being who you are and they tell you off for being young. And then they are rude and they tug your clothes and they pulled my hat off – why does God care about my hat? And they are dull and they are boring. And they’re old and they are weird.

    And they do it with a few more expletives. And they are believed. And one will tell another…

  50. rebecca says:

    The point I take from Kim and Robb’s stories is that it’s no good trying to get people to come into a church for whom it isn’t their natural environment (whatever that means). Anyone who wants to meet them, needs to do it outside the church.

    BTW, I carefully worded that last sentence to avoid saying “them” and “us”!

  51. Tiggy says:

    No you didn’t. You said ‘Anyone who wants to meet THEM…’

  52. rebecca says:

    Sorry, I put the quote marks in the wrong places. The point is that the sentence was entirely in the third person.

  53. Tiggy says:

    It’s not my natural environment either. I’d want to bring in some cushions and sit on the floor in a circle.

  54. I think it is a LOVING thing to challenge bad behaviour. It certainly never harmed me as a young person. What we Christians seem to do is roll over backwards because we want to be seen as ‘accepting’ of everyone.
    Everyone instinctively knows what’s right and what’s wrong. Those ‘yoof’ that come to my church started small and have been pushing the boundaries – and their behaviour has become even more daring and outrageous as it has remained unchallenged. And this is impacting on other members of the church.
    Okay, I admit that, throwing them out is a bit extreme. But not to challenge bad behaviour? Even Jesus challenged bad behaviour.

  55. jonbirch says:

    that’s an interesting one, ‘bad behaviour’. i was constantly in trouble at school for behaving badly. but i could argue that they started it my trying to make me be something i wasn’t. all those years spent learning things i can’t remember… bored to tears and desperately in need of stimulation. going to church can be a lot like going to school. not everyone will fit. perhaps trying to get people in to a church service is simply not the best way of going about things.
    suffer the children…

  56. Tiggy says:

    Don’t take this the wrong way, (says the Queen of Double Entendre)
    but what sort of stimulation did you want? I ask that as a former schoolteacher. And what were they trying to make you into that you weren’t?

  57. jonbirch says:

    i wasn’t the sort to sit there and listen to most teachers without getting thoroughly bored. just like many 14 year olds these days are forced to attend when they, us and those kids for whom school is useful would be better served by them taking up apprenticeships or working.
    university should be for academics, nobody else need apply.
    i was to attend an art school when i was secondary age. sadly, the school closed and the opportunity died, so i went to a comp. the best bit about the comp i went to was that it had a great music department which fitted me well and i had the chance to be with many different kinds of people from a range of backgrounds… that was also a great education for life.

  58. Tiggy says:

    Ugh, I would have hated to have been sent to work at 14. I wanted to learn about lots of different things, not become part of some big machine whose aim was to make people at the top rich. I wanted to expand my mind, not be put into some fixed channel for the rest of my life.

    I hated my school because it was full of people not interested in learning who disrupted the lessons. When I became a teacher, I hate school because the teachers were horrible to the pupils and it was so regimented and no one was allowed to be an individual.

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘university should be for academics’.

  59. Robb says:

    I’m guessing that it means that if you want to maintain a golf course you shouldn’t need a degree.

  60. Tiggy says:

    But there are lots of things that are practical and academic, like engineering or achitecture. The problem here is that we don’t have technical subjects for industry taught at a high enough level compared to places like Germany and India.

    There are some new subjects that are great to have at uni, like ones related to the music industry or film. Why should degree level learning be restricted to the same subjects as years ago? There are new subjects like nanotechnology and oceanography that need to be studied at degree level.

  61. kay says:

    I’ve stopped going to church altogether because I can’t find anyone else who loves to sit together in silent prayer and I feel alienated by the lonliness of that. I can see why it’s maybe too difficult to incorporate silence into church services that include kids, but I think it’s only fair to recognise that for some people silence is where we most easily/deeply find God and to share that with others is what we love above all else. Unfortunately, it seems impossible to find that in the church.

    After years of lobbying for an occasional contemplative communion service in the evening, which has fallen on totally stoney ground, I’ve given up and ditched church in favour of a Buddhist group because that’s the only place I can find others who value shared silence. It makes me really sad that I can’t go to communion any more and I do miss it, but for me the lack of silence following communion is so painful that I’d rather not bother.

  62. Tiggy Sagar says:

    Well you aren’t the only one who wants that. A couple of places I’ve lived in, we’ve set up a group for silent prayer that meets in the week. These groups have run for years so they have definitely proved popular and met a need. I even found the local Buddhist group was too noisy and talkative. We’d have quite heavy discussions and then it was hard to meditate. Have you ever tried the Quakers?

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