Sermon Series: Seeking God
Message 3 of 5: Quiet Your Soul
Scripture: Psalm 131
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 1/26/2020 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of the entire worship service, including the message.
If your brain was an animal, what would it be?
There are times when my brain resembles an animal more than a human.
- A monkey brain- reacting rather than responding to the new or unexpected
- A hamster on a wheel brain in constant motion- thinking, planning, working and it won’t stop
- A squirrel brain- distracted, chasing this thought or feeling then chasing another one
- A dog brain- grabbing hold of an idea or feeling (like resentment) and it won’t let go
What do we long for? We long for peace of mind.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5)
We long peace of mind, for quietness.
Even something deeper than that, rest for our souls.
The good news is we can have it no matter the season or circumstance.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Let’s hear the testimony of Ruth Haley Barton on how she found rest for her soul. Ruth Haley Barton, author of Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence and the book Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation.
I didn’t have a jar of river water, but Pam was kind enough to loan me her snowglobe. This snowglobe settles in about 10 seconds. In practicing solitude and silence I don’t settle this quickly. It’s a new practice for me. I’m learning.
What I do know is that I need it. The idea that we can be all jumbled up inside and settle into a quietness of the soul is a promise and gift of God. These practices are ancient. They are not new nor new age. We’ve just forgotten them or never been taught them.
Rest for our souls- The Christian Practice of Solitude and Silence. Some refer to it as Christian Contemplation, Contemplative Prayer, or Christian Meditation. I like the word stillness. It sounds more approachable.
What is it? We stop. We stop making demands on God. We stop making demands on ourselves. We leave productivity and accomplishment behind for a time. It’s being rather than doing.
We stop and spend time with God. God is God. God is present and waiting. I belong to God.
Psalm 131- a song of quiet trust. A song of ascents used as folks made their way up the mountain range between Jericho and Jerusalem. They were heading to Jerusalem for worship at the Temple. A song of David, the shepherd king, the man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22)
Psalm 131, NRSV
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and forevermore.
The Psalm is directed to God, as is the Christian practice of Solitude, Silence, and Stillness. Notice how striving and achieving are left behind- my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not too high. I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
There is humility. There is dependence, as a child.
We had a preschool party recently. It was baby palooza, so many babies. One of the moms asked if I wanted to hold her baby and I said, “YES!” I had the joy of holding a three-month-old baby Elias, a nugget of love. He came to me and nestled in.
My soul is calmed and quieted like a weaned child with its mother.
The Christian practice of Solitude, Silence, and Stillness is very different than the practice of Eastern Meditation. In our practice, we are seeking God and stopping. In Eastern practice, I am doing. I am striving for self. All I need is within me. I can heal myself. I can attain a higher state of consciousness. I empty my mind. I control my breathing. I control my emotions. I control myself. (notice all the I’s)
How to Practice Stillness. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands palms up on your lap. This is a posture of openness and receiving. Set a timer for 5-20 minutes. Take a deep breath. Gaze on God and allow God to gaze on you. As your mind is distracted, center back on gazing at God.
Distracted, by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Sometimes you are distracted by your prayers,
your desires pulling so many ways
like chores, the must, the ought,
the please oh please,
the wouldn’t it be better if.
Forget your prayers
and pay attention to the Beloved,
sit without purpose,
and be without excuse
Sermon- Quiet Your Soul © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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