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letting the SELAH develop
Topic Started: Jan 18 2007, 02:24 AM (2,132 Views)
HelenaZF
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"more is more"

Some have said that selah (pronounced SEE-luh), a word used primarily in the Psalms, was a musical notation meaning a stop or pause. But it is much more. Consider this:

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Selah, [celah], is from the primary Hebrew root word [calah] which means 'to hang,' and by implication to measure (weigh). This is readily understood because in Biblical history, money, food and other valuables were 'weighed' by hanging or suspending them on a type of balance (the equivalent of our measuring scale) to determine their value.

So seeing that this Hebrew word [calah] means to 'measure,' as in weighing something in the balances, we better understand how the word Selah [celah], which is derived from it, is illustrating that we should measure or value what has been said. In other words, just as we would say today, the diplomat should, "weigh what he says carefully."  And the word [celah] is used in this very same way. It is an illustration that we should 'measure' or value carefully what has just transpired.


Often there is a time at the end of a song, when we move into a free time of instrumental improvisation, singing in the spirit, or even silence. These are "selah" times. They give us opportunity to reflect on the message just brought in the song...the awesomeness of God and his works. If we are willing to allow it, many powerful and beautiful things can come out of a selah time. After a while, the musicians might settle into a chord progression that instruments can soar over. Prophetic song can come forth. Rhythmic prophecies on the drums, other instruments joining in to make underlayments for warfare, peace, compassion, intercession. And there might be silence. And then, after a while....a word, a scripture, a song of the Bridegroom...the response back to the Lord....a dance.....Or just silence. It can go on until the intimacy is so intense it is almost hard to breathe. Sweet, and dripping with the honey of the presence of the Lord.

Not all worship leaders are comfortable with extended times of selah, and part of it is not having been there before, and not knowing quite what to do, and I think part is being uncomfortable with the silence.

We seem to be so afraid of silence. It's like the radio disc jockeys who's worst nightmare is dead air. They are afraid that if they have too much dead air, they will be fired.

What are we afraid of when there is silence in worship? It's uncomfortable...we get self-conscious...worry about the time used.....wonder if we are the ones that are supposed to break the silence. What will happen next? When is it right to end the silence, the selah time?

And yet, it's worth all the risks, because by taking the time...we become pliable and receptive to the deep visitation of the Holy Spirit as we minister our worship to Him. But it doesn't happen in a 45 second time of post song-end progressions and then on to the next number. It takes time to ripen, to develope, to come to full expression--both from us and from the Lord as we finally open to Him.

In the early days of charismatic expression, singing in the spirit consisted of using up all of your prayer language in a rather static melody that was sung over one long, extended chord. It would tend to trail off fairly quickly, because there just wasn't all that much you could do musically with just one chord. But later, worship leaders began using logical chord progressions (I think Elim was one of the first places from which this disseminated) and a whole new world opened up. The selah could go on for long periods of time, ever interesting musically, swelling in and out of mood and emotion according to the tenor of the progressions chosen. And, as a body, we could soak in intimacy with our Lover/King.

It can be pretty cool...." hangin' " with the Lord. :) Selah.
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DeanZF
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Good post.

Yes, fear of silence. Silence is a place where the worship leader is not in control, another big fear. The big cheer of the 80's charismatics was "Let go and let God!" It's still the same large problem.

I have to smile. We SO want God to "show up" in our services, and yet we are SO uncomfortable in providing a space in time for Him to do so. :)

And of course, this is not just a problem for the WL. The folks in the congregation can sometimes see that empty air as something for THEM to fill. "Oh! I just had a thought pop into my mind, it must be GOD! I'll have to share. 'Thus saith the Lord...'"

Selah times are just like most every other aspect of worship and of life, it's about both revelation and teaching. Folks need to learn to be comfortable in quiet. They need to learn that not everything that pops into their head is God, and that some of what IS God, is for THEM, not for the congregation. Are those things taught out loud any more? Have not heard them for a while.

Had a friend who said that selah times were like showers, times to soak in, times to enjoy, times to be washed, special times just for "me and God", even in a public setting. Thought it was an interesting perspective.
Blessings!

Dean
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sonworshiper
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[ *  *  * ]
This is what I was asking about in one of my other posts! Never really heard it called "selah" though--although it's the perfect term to describe it.

I don't feel awkward with silence--but have been fighting mainly in my "self" to let God lead those times, and each week they are getting more and more life changing as we as a church family learn to soak in God's presence.

As a worship leader, did any of you just jump right into leading like that? Into leading spontaneous worship, times of selah? Or was it a long, painful process? Did singing in the Spirit come naturally to you??

Again. . .look forward to your replies.

Blessings!

Moe.
:crooner:
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Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 63:7

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HelenaZF
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"more is more"

It was something I had to learn, although, if you experience it somewhere, the learning curve is very fast. When I was first in a situation where there were these selah times, I immediately could see the potential for deep, personal connection and ministry to and from the Lord, so I plunged right in.

You just get better at discerning how it should go as you do it more and more.
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DeanZF
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For me, singing in the spirit did indeed come pretty easily. Actually, that's how I received my prayer language. Thought I was kind of "scat singing". You know, "nonsense syllables"? NOT!! Had never been exposed to it, but had read about it. Had no idea what it was until I suddenly realized, THAT WAS THAT!! :D Doing that publically was no biggie. I'm not inhibited about doing things publically, generally. I was schooled enough to know that doing that in a non-charismatic church would generate problems, though, so when in that situation, it was pretty quiet.

Selah is translated by some to mean, "think about that" referring back to or forward to something, usually something that's already been said or sung.

Did I/we jump right into it? As Helena has said, no, it was something that had to be learned. Then it had to be taught to those being led. That's WAY harder than learning it yourself. You've already come to a point of wanna, maybe even to the point of GOTTA, where many folks in the congregation really aren't there yet. It's an "okay activity", but they are not up to the "wanna" level yet.

On a personal level, it's really hard to shut our minds off enough to receive and not be throwing up our own noise to interfere with just listening. We don't want to go into a trance or become a blank slate for any ole spirit coming along, but we do want to be still enough to be able to hear that Voice. In the early days, we had a lot of voices swirling in our spirits and we wanted to know the Shepherd's voice above and beyond all others. Practice, practice, practice. We had some really good coaches.

Does that help any??
Blessings!

Dean
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psalmistc
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[ * ]
Now I know why I had to start checking in more!!! I have had this thing with always trying to "fill in the gap" while leading P & W. Not knowing the true meaning of Selah. WOW!! Yesterday during corporate worship, we experienced just that. I kept wanting to say something, but in the sprit, i saw a 'do not distrub' sign hangin. I looked around and saw people just weeping, and lifting their hands and just soaking in the prescence. His prescence. It was soooo amazing, God has delt with me on always "filling in" Partly b/c we don't have a musicain as of yet. So we use track music. But I saw something different. I'm experiencing Him in a whole different way. Thanks for that explanation. Something you see often, but I just had a lightbulb moment while reading....like duh!!! THat's what He's been trying to say to me. lol. :lol: :D
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DeanZF
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psalmistc
Jan 29 2007, 03:52 PM
I kept wanting to say something, but in the sprit, i saw a 'do not disturb' sign hangin. I looked around and saw people just weeping, and lifting their hands and just soaking in the prescence. His prescence.

What a great image! Makes me smile. Father often tweaks me with things like that that others might deem overly familiar, but He knows how to get my attention. And obviously, He got yours! :D

A lot of us, especially those in the worship arena where we have impatient pastors, champing at the bit to get up there and preach their hearts out, have to be careful in the realms of silence and soaking. It's kind of like driving down the interstates in Kansas City: if you leave enough room for safety, someone's going to come along and fill it up! I keep shouting, but they're not listening: "NO, IT'S NOT FOR YOU TO FILL UP!!!!!" Gets me too often, I must confess.

The same thing happens in our churches. I earnestly and honestly feel that it is primarily an issue of education. Sometimes a simple explanation of what has just happened is needed--maybe regularly, actually--and an oral confirmation that we want to anticipate more of the same and give the space to the Lord for HIS use, not ours.

We learned a word 20+ years ago that was life giving. It had to do with unrealistic expectations. Too many people have unrealistic expectations about what worship is or isn't, about what is happening and what should happen in our worship times.

How can we break those unrealistic expectations? By educating our congregations! If we tell them what realistic expectations are, they know what they should be expecting. And if theirs don't match up with those, that we need to converse and see if leadership is missing the boat or if those of the parishioner really are unrealistic!

It's not enough to say, "Wasn't worship great this morning?". It's vital that we reinforce those amazing moments by giving proper labels and explanations so that the great and meaningful experiences are confirmed and set as milestones along the congregation's life.

One man's opinion, obviously.
Blessings!

Dean
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