Silence and Solitude

This week, I have called our congregation to a weeklong fast from media, in some or all of its forms.  I have gone cold turkey—no social media, no internet browsing, no TV, movies, radio, etc.  I am only using email and a few other things for work purposes.  Some of you are participating by doing something similar.  Others have eliminated one form of media.  Whatever step you have taken, I pray that it is going well.  

During a time of fasting, it is important to pay attention to feelings, experiences, and frustrations.  Allow me to share a few of my own so far this week.  The first thing that surprised me is an increased awareness of how often I reach for some kind of media device for background noise throughout the day.  Making a commitment not to use media has revealed an unhealthy dependence upon these devices in my life; they have almost become a crutch to alleviate any moment of boredom, restlessness, or fatigue.  

The second thing that I noticed is the silence.  In the absence of the constant noise and interruptions, I simply notice the silence.  At first, it was a little unsettling.  After a day or two, it has become more precious to me.  The silence becomes a sort of mini-Sabbath—a reminder that I can function just fine with the world’s activity shut off to me and that I can rest in the confidence that the Trinity is working unhurriedly, often unobservedly, in the world around me.  As the song says, “Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light, nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might.”  The silence reminds me to rest in the fact that God is at work—always, everywhere.

My third and final observation is that media use generally focuses my attention somewhere else—international news, scandalous government intrigues, celebrity gossip, goings on in the lives of distant Facebook friends, and the endless pursuit of bits of information that are just one google search away.  Shutting off media for a week has helped me to focus on the arena in which I am most useful: the opportunities and relationships that are right in front of me.  My awareness of others is increased, as well as my awareness of God and how he might be calling me to act in these real relationships before me!

In the silence and solitude of the media fast, in all of its challenges and opportunities, the words of Psalm 46:10, ring over and over within me: “Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations.  I will be exalted in the earth.”  Be still and know that I am God.  Be still and know.  Be still.  Be. 

Opening Prayer (slowly, pausing as you need along the way):

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.  Amen. 
Come, let us bow down and bend the knee: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

Psalm and Gospel for the Day: (slowly read the Psalm, maybe 2 or 3 times, pausing if there is a word or phrase that stands out to you; then take that word or phrase and turn it into a prayer.  Then read the Gospel lesson.)

Mar. 12 | Psalm 89:14-18 | John 7:25-32

Mar. 13 | Psalm 97:1-6 | John 7:33-44

Mar. 14 | Psalm 109:1-4; 21-26 | John 8:1-11

Mar. 15 | Psalm 69:13-18 | John 8:12-20

Mar. 16 | Psalm 107:1-9 | John 8:31-47

Mar. 17 | Psalm 33:13-22 | John 8:48-59

Personal Prayers (If you have felt God speaking from his word, respond in prayer; ask him to work in your life in specific ways.)

This week I encourage you to spend some time with a journal, reflecting on the following questions: What things am I feeling angry about? What things am I feeling sad about?  What things am I feeling anxious about?  What things am I feeling glad about?  Then go through these lists and pray about the things that you have written.

Prayers for Others (especially pray for one person you would like to influence for Christ)

The Lord’s Prayer (pray it slowly and thoughtfully, thinking about ways each phrase may apply to your life today.)

Closing Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit.  We pray that your fruit would be in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go.