Solitude, Silence and Sabbath – Jul 22, 2018

Mark 6:30-34

Everyone needs a rest and we need to go to a secluded place once in a while.  As some of you know, we are planning a cross-country road trip during my vacation.  I hope this could be my “secluded place” that I need to go for a rest.  But, I am not sure…, because I have to drive many hours every day with 3 teenagers: Jonathan, Elizabeth and one of her best friends, Bryn.  They are very excited and counting down the days.

Many years ago, when Jonathan was about 5 or 6, we went camping in the Catskill mountain area.  There was a small pond and when I told him that I brought a fishing rod, he became so excited.  Even though we couldn’t catch any fish that night, it was very nice to be out there with the loved ones.  It was so calm…, so dark…, so quite… that I knew I would remember that night.  After all, it was our family’s first camping/fishing trip.

Early next morning, we all awoke because of the sound of rain-drops on our tent.  Believe me, it was pretty loud and the situation was getting lousy.  Besides, both Jonathan and Elizabeth wanted to go to the restroom in the heavy rain.  On the way back to our tent from the restroom, Jonathan asked to Rachel, “Mom, can we buy one of those cars?,” pointing at a RV.  Rachel explained, “That’s very expensive car, Jonathan,” to which Jonathan responded with a big smile and a genuine excitement, “You can use my money!  I have a couple of dollars.” 

This morning we see Jesus and the Disciples headed across the Sea of Galilee one more time.  The Disciples have just returned from their first missionary journey.  And they were excited.  Jesus wanted to get off by Himself with the Disciples to debrief and to spend some time in prayer with the Twelve. 

The passage which we read shows all the activity that took place around Jesus.  It shows how the crowds kept coming to him.  It shows how much need there was for his ministry.  But it also shows us a pattern of prayer that Jesus followed.  It shows us Jesus’ Cycle of Service.  That cycle included Solitude, Silence, Sabbath and then more Service. 

That’s what I want to look at this morning.  Let’s explore these three aspects of Jesus spiritual life. 

First, let’s look at SOLITUDE. 

Solitude is something we don’t get much of in our society.  It’s something we don’t take advantage of either.  Solitude is a good thing.  Solitude is a time of refreshment.  Solitude is a time of new birth and new focus.  But, a lot of people are afraid of solitude.  They think it means becoming a hermit.  It doesn’t.  No one is asking you to go off into the wilderness alone and become a hermit.  You can be alone and in solitude even in your own home.  Solitude is more of a mental state than a physical state but it is highly enhanced by being alone. 

In Solitude we meet God.  God enters into our solitude.  God enters, bringing fresh hope and insight into our lives and situations.  God honors and enters our solitude because God knows that in solitude, we have no distractions. 

For me, the solitude of early morning is the most precious time of day.  There is a quiet serenity that disappears a few hours later with the hustle and bustle of the multitude.  Early morning hours symbolize for me a rebirth; the anxieties, frustrations, and woes of the preceding day seem to have been washed away during the night.  God has granted another day of life, another chance to do something good.

Solitude is good for the soul, that’s why Jesus took the Disciples to a deserted place to rest.  It was both physical and spiritual rest.  Get away to a quite place.  Have a quality time with your Savior. 

Second, let’s look at SILENCE. 

Silence allows us to listen to God.  Silence allows us to reflect on life and faith and let God enter into our thoughts and hearts.  In Solitude we meet God.  In Silence we hear God. 

Just as we need solitude occasionally, we need silence and quiet time, too.  We need time when there is nothing but silence.  There is a disharmony of noise that surrounds us every day.  Life is loud and boisterous.  That’s why we need the occasional oasis of silence.  No music.  No TV.  No talking.  No texting.  No posting.  But, uninterrupted pure silence!

Now, I want all of us to take a moment to be simply in silence.  Close your eyes.  Take a deep and slow breath in… and out.  Pay attention to your breathing.  Put aside all your plans.  Quit going through the grocery list or planning what you’ll have for lunch.  Quit working on your to do list for the coming week.  Empty your mind and just try to listen to God in silence.  Listen to what God is saying to you. 

Being in Silence is the very beginning of the Centering Prayer.  I know, probably hundreds of thoughts keep coming up.  But don’t hold on to those thoughts.  Try to ignore them.  Try to erase them every time an unexpected thought come up to your brain.  Try to empty your head.  And try to listen to God.  Don’t say a prayer to God.  Just listen!  We will be in Silence for just 1 minute.  (Singing Bowl).

We need a dose of silence every day.  If you practice the Centering Prayer every day, I guarantee you that you will experience a new dimension – a deeper dimension – of the spiritual life.  In the fall, our Bible Study will focus on “Deepening Our Prayer.”  And I am praying about having a Contemplative Prayer Meeting after this Bible Study session.  So, join us when we offer Bible Study in the fall.

(OK) The last point is SABBATH. 

God said let there be six days for toil and let there be one day of rest.  A day set aside to rest physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.  It is a time when hope is reborn, dreams are rekindled, self-worth restored.  It is a day of rest and a day to glorify God through remembering the blessings of God and giving thanks for our relationship with God.  That’s what the Sabbath is all about. 

Jesus observed the Sabbath.  He took it seriously.  Time and time again in the New Testament you find a phrase that says, “as was His custom, Jesus went into the Synagogue to pray…,” or, something close to that.  As was his custom implies that Jesus was regular in worship attendance.  He didn’t just talk about going.  He went. 

Jesus observed the Sabbath because in doing so, he was fed, filled and restored.  In Solitude we meet God.  In Silence we hear God.  On the Sabbath we restore our souls.  That’s why the Sabbath is so important.  Honoring the Sabbath is one of the ways we show our love for God.  Friends, you and I need the Sabbath.  It’s the way we were created.  We need that time with God. 

Jesus took the Disciples across the Sea of Galilee to find a lonely place where they could spend time in Solitude, Silence and Sabbath.  That was his custom.  It was his way of staying in tune with God’s will for his life and ministry.  It was his way of building the reserves needed for being a Servant of the Living God.  Because of the many hours that Jesus and the Disciples had spent in Solitude, Silence and Sabbath, they were able to be in Service to those who were so desperately searching for answers. 

The point is, that Jesus spent time taking care of his soul.  And he taught the Disciples to follow the same spiritual exercise.  It begins with Solitude, Silence and Sabbath and it does not stop there.  It ends in Service for God and God’s people. 

Don’t forget to refuel.  Don’t forget to refresh your spirit.  Follow Jesus every day.  Follow Jesus into the wilderness of Solitude.  Spend time in Silence listening to God.  And keep the Sabbath.  When you practice Solitude, Silence and Sabbath, your spirit will be renewed and you’ll be a better servant and certainly a better person as well.  Amen.


Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

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