Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer Sermon Series - Spiritual Disciplines

writers note: this was an experiment in writing a spoken word sermon as 'speakers notes' instead of in the usual 'format' so again, the spoken word jumped off from these notes

The Sound of Silence


Opening Thought: How easy do you find it to be alone? Have you ever gone on vacation and come home feeling worse than when you left? Ever found yourself driving down the road when you realize that the sounds – radio, tires, wind, people, are driving you crazy?

The Counter Argument: I can also remember afternoons in a hammock. I remember nights around a campfire, I spent Friday afternoon up at the ocean on the hot sand. Each of you think about it... look back and remember some moment of quiet, when time seemed to stand still...

I will tell you my best one ever. Halfway through my first internship as a minister in North Bay Ontario; a tough summer, as I had never ever worked in a church before, I went on a Canoe trip with a couple of my friends from Ottawa. We followed the old voyageur canoe route back towards Ottawa and alone the way spent the night camping beside a waterfall, on the edge of a sheer rock cliff.

It was fabulous, hundreds of miles from the next person, starlight and water cascading; A cooler full of beer and fresh fish on the fire.... Curiously we returned a few weeks later to Ottawa and were in the National Art gallery when we came across a painting, you might even have seen it, I think it was a Frances Hopkins, of some voyageurs camping under the overturned canoes, in the exact same spot, hundreds of years earlier...

Transition: Today we'll look at two of the most overlooked spiritual disciples: silence and solitude.

Silence and solitude

• Our culture has become addicted to noise.
-Illustration: I cannot tell you how many times I have been in a house where the television has been turned on in the morning, and left on for the entire day... or perhaps the radio... sometimes with no one even consciously paying attention.

• Many people are afraid of being alone.
-Illustration: Sartre said, "If you are lonely when you're alone, you are in bad company."

• Many people use noise and company to drown out loneliness, doubt, fear, and pain.
-Illustration: When Keith Miller was a boy, he found himself alone in the house and, becoming terrified, sang a loud song and banged a spoon against a pot until his mother came home.

• Every great leader of the Bible was familiar with silence and solitude, including: Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, Paul, and John.
-Luke 5:16, Acts 20:13, Psalm 131:2

Transition: Today, I want to point out three areas in which we can learn to "still and quiet" our souls.

Find time to be alone

• Jesus knew this... the disciples were always being hounded by people who wanted to see Jesus – he knew the value of getting away, but it seems they hardly ever did, so he urged them to come away with him to a quiet place.

• We might think we don’t have the time, or what have you... but consider this...Even in the midst of a hectic lifestyle, we have to find time to be alone.
-Illustration: While in a Nazi concentration camp, Victor Frankl would sneak out to a tent in which corpses were kept in order to find privacy.

• We need to make the most of our time with God by stopping everything else and being still.
-Psalm 130:5

Make it as quiet as possible

• Make your external environment as quiet as possible so that you can be still in your internal environment.

Practice the art of silence

• Quiet refers to what you hear; silence refers to what you don't say.

• Our most powerful interactions with God come when we listen.
-Psalm 62:1

• The more we listen to God, the easier it is for us to listen to others.


• Big Idea: Silence and solitude supply fuel for the soul.

• As often as you can, get in God's presence; be as still as you can be, make it as quiet as can be, be as silent as you can be, and listen to the still, small voice of God.

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