silent classroom

Dec 23, 2023


We are not sure how long Zechariah was without speech but I guess the impediment provided hours of reflective time for him while his wife Elizabeth and Mary enjoyed each other’s company without interruption.

It seems a bit tough for the good and upright priest Zechariah to be silenced simply for struggling to understand the angel’s promise that he and his wife, both well on in years, would bear a son who would prepare the way for the Christ.

From today’s gospel reading I hear a call to not be afraid of silence, whether imposed or in the space created when I just don’t know what to say.

Those who are truly wise know that silence can provide a higher school of learning, a classroom of growth. In the words of the first reading a place of refining and purification – as gold and silver are tested.

A good life-coach will notice the student who shows potential and who challeges them even more than the rest. These are the students who, if they respond to the extra attention and encouragement, become the highest achievers.

God as life-coach for Zechariah, already one who served faithfully in the temple, gives his student an opportunity for silent reflection. Then Zechariah’s “mouth opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak praising God” in a way that was fresh and powerful so that all who heard his words pondered them and knew that the Lord was with him.

You might like to take time today for silence. This may seem impossible since the couple of days before Christmas are often the busiest days of the year. But try taking 30 seconds silence, whenever you think of it, and take a dozen of these thirty-second spots throughout the day, to breathe. and to know that the breaths that you take in these seconds are a gift from God who is embracing you with love.


Here is a grace you might like to use at your Christmas meal this year.

A Grace before Christmas Dinner

One of the more senior people
at the dinner begins saying:

Before we share this Christmas meal together,
Let us take a moment of silent prayer
to give God thanks
for all the blessings we have received this year
and the burdens we bear, shared and personal.

A moment of silent reflection follows
Then the leader continues

Let us remember those
we have shared Christmas with in past years,
those who have died,
and also those who are not able to be with us today
because of distance and illness and Covid restrictions.
Let us now share aloud
the names of those we especially wish to remember.

Those at table take a moment
to share the names of those
they wish to remember.

When the names have been shared
a candle is lit in the centre of the table
(perhaps by one of the children).
Then the leader prays

May the light of this candle
lead us to Christ
who overcomes every darkness.

And for what we receive in this meal,
the food, drink, and family and friendship,
let us be deeply grateful.




  1. Taking a silent 30 sec pause to consider God as my life coach is empowering enough. Tx for this contemporary descriptor. Also the handy grace before dinner now conveniently on my phone.

  2. Thank you for the reminder of how easily we can connect to Christ by consciously being silent and acknowledging the breath we have, comes from him. I find the season of busyness and endless tasks distract me and separate me from God with us. Thank you for reminding me of how to reconnect to our Creator from whom peace flows.

  3. Thank you for the beautiful Christmas grace.

  4. A welcome early Christmas gift – to employ, and enjoy, silence with God. Thank you John.

  5. Silence is golden, especially when we put God into our thoughts


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