On Being Still

October 25, 2015
by Richard Worden

Psalm 46:10a – Be still, and know that I am God. (RSV)

There is an old preacher's story about the little girl who brought her friend to worship with her one Sunday. When her friend started to talk out loud, the girl said, "You have to be quiet or the hushers will come for you."

My weekly church bulletin has a banner at the top of the first page asking people to be quiet before the worship begins — to be still — a message from the hushers.

While I like my short, quiet time before worship, I also like to practice what I read about a psychologist's research. He discovered that when people are being seated in church, every time someone nearby acknowledges them, calls them by name, or inquires about them, their serotonin level goes away up. Serotonin is that brain chemical that makes us feel happy, loving, and I dare say, neighbourly. Serotonin may do a person more good than some sermons!

Until the outbreak of some germs a few years ago, it was a common practice to shake hands with the people seated nearby and to greet them in the name of Jesus, and often, after a few weeks, even by their own names. As one who at the time was in the pulpit, it often appeared that I had lost control of the congregation. The people of God really enjoyed greeting one another. My other observation is that after the greeting time, the congregation seemed to be more attentive, more alive, and more responsive — an observation based on the gusty singing, hugs, and handshakes at the door.

Recently, my minister introduced a time of dialogue into her sermons. She presents a question that arises from the Scriptures of the day, and in small groups, thoughts, information, and examples of how the Word speaks to people are shared. The serotonin level of the congregation soars to new heights, and I noticed that the coffee and fellowship time is friendlier, warmer, and lasts much longer.

There is another verse about being still. Moses was facing the crossing of the Red Sea and the people were afraid. Moses tells the people, "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still." (Exodus 14:14 RSV)

We have times when we are afraid. We have times when we face transformations in our lives. It is good that we are reminded at certain times to be still and to let God fight for us. We need to give up control and to allow God's serotonin to do its work!

Together, we pray: Gracious God, we give thanks for this day and in this day for Your love which You address to us personally and by our own names. Amen.

About the author:

Richard Worden <cliveworden@gmail.com>
Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for sharing those wonderful thoughts Richard. Quiet is needed but so is fellowship.

    Thank you. I was at a conference about worship service types, and this devotion goes right along with it, but presents and additional idea or two. Thanks.
    (ON Canada)

    Thank you for this morning’s contribution, Richard. Your words are needed more than ever now, with people tucked into their various technological devices. Yes, they’re still … so still that they don’t acknowledge the people around them … and their brains are being overloaded.
    May we hear more from you.

    Thanks for inspiring us so beautifully!

    So what you are saying is there is a time to speak to each other in church as well as a time to be still. Both can raise the serotonin level when used in the right manner.

    Dear Richard,
    “Be still and know that I am God” and “seratonin” resulting from friendliness are both needed in all of our churches.
    We need to know Jesus Christ well to enjoy fellowship in his church. I pray that church people will all take responsibility for each separately and all together to know Jesus Christ well.
    Keep living well and writing.

    I believe that you have struck on one of the most important lessons offered through medical science – the actual physical effects of positive human connection. It seems that we had almost lost sight of that truth, both in the health care system and the religious system. As Christians we can indeed meet this neurochemical need – 1) through tender fellowship with one another, and 2) through placing our priority on reconciliation with God through salvation. What God offers is far more effective than the measures so commonly used in our world – such as medication and addictions.
    God is amazingly scientific!

    Hi Richard,
    In our church we have recently started shaking hand and hugging routine at the begiing of the service, and I don’t like it for two reasons. I, and at least one other person have tissue valves in our hearts and we have to be really careful that we don’t get an infection of any kind, it can go to our hearts and be fatal. When I shake hads after the service, which as a leader of worship I do, I always wash my hands before I go home.
    The second reason is that some one told me one time that before the service we should talk to God, during the service listen to God and after the service talk to each other.
    I also don’t like all the talking before the service, the organists play sacred music or hymns, in obe church I go to they always sing a few well know hymns before the service and in this way peole prepare for worship.
    Just a few thoughts.
    Thank you for your good devotional. It gave me an oppertunity to express my thoughts.

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