Summary: Time of silence alone with God: · deepens our relationship with him · restores us in our life for Him · focuses us in our work for Him

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Spiritual Discplines

Silence and Solitude

It is a well-known fact that the people of this Church are extremely well read! I know that you all have the great classics of literature in your well-stocked libraries. I know that your children will reach Chaucer and Dickens instead of the ‘Cat in the Hat’!I’d like to introduce to you some more great works of literature this morning.

You may not be familiar with the works of Jill Murphy, but she has written some very telling and fundamentally simple books about the harsh realities of family life. Even if you are not familiar with the books themselves, the titles will certainly strike a chord. The first of these books is entitled ’Five Minutes’ Peace’, and it’s about the difficulties that a parent has in trying to get even five minutes peace and quiet. In the end to she manages to get three minutes and 45 seconds of peace before the whole family descend upon her once again! The second book is entitled ’A Quiet Night In’, and shows how, when Mr and Mrs Large at last managed to programme a quiet night in to spend quality time with each other, they are so exhausted with the pressures of life and family that they simply fall asleep.

Over the past few weeks we have been looking at the spiritual disciplines — the methods by which we develop our spiritual lives. Discipline is not a popular word, but it is necessary if we want to live life, have a relationship with God, at a deeper level.

Today we will be considering the discipline of silence and solitude. Now, even on a very practical level, I guess most of us would identify very closely with Mr and Mrs Large as they try to get some kind of peace and quiet just for five minutes. We live in a world where five minutes peace seems impossible. ….where noise is everywhere. …. Where sometimes the radio is way too loud for me and it is the radio in the car behind me.

I looked at Roget’s Thesaurus -Silence = stillness, quiet, peace, calm, rest

still, ad. 1. remaining in place or at rest; motionless; stationary; to stand still. 2. free from sound or noise, as a place, persons, etc.: silent: to keep still about a matter 3. subdued or low in sound; hushed: a still small voice 4. free from turbulence or commotion; peaceful; tranquil; calm; the still air.

Well if this is discipline – count me in!

But why are stillness, silence and solitude important for the Christian.

The example of Elijah

Lets look at the example of Elijah from our first reading. You might like to look up 1 Kings 19: to refresh your memories. Just to put this into context, Elijah was alive around 850 BC. David had been king about 120 years before, followed by Solomon. You may not recall that Solomon, although he was remembered as a wise King and a generally good guy, went downhill towards the end of his life. The result of that was that after Solomon’s death the kingdom was divided and there were two parallel kingdoms of Judah and Israel. The King’s who followed Solomon weren’t a lot better and by the time we get to Elijah’s appearance on the scene the King of Israel was Ahab. 1 Kgs 16: 30. We read that Ahab did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all that were before him. Worse than that he took for a wife Jezebel she was a foreigner and then worshipped Baal who was a pagan god and erected altars for Baal in various places.

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