From the pulpit: Spiritual stillness allows guidance
&8220;Despite Jesus&8217; instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.&8221;
I was in a bookstore recently and came across a book with an interesting title- &8220;Don&8217;t Just Do Something, Sit There: A Mindfulness Retreat with Sylvia Boorstein.&8221; I don&8217;t know anything about the author, but the little book on the shelf caught my attention. The work sets forth for its reader a Buddhist-centered, meditation retreat – a model for taking time daily, amidst the busyness of life, to focus spirit and heart in order to gain inner clarity. As the back of the cover states, &8220;The truth is available in every moment… Being alone with no diversions sets up terrific conditions for beginning &8216;to see.&8217;&8221; Being STILL in order to receive guidance and wisdom from a higher power.
What&8217;s interesting to me is that Jesus knew the importance of &8220;being still.&8221; All throughout the Gospel writings we read of Jesus performing amazing works, caring for the lost and downtrodden, teaching and preaching God&8217;s Word… and then retreat into the wilderness to pray and focus upon God. What&8217;s powerful to me is that even Jesus needed moments to recharge his spiritual &8220;batteries,&8221; even Jesus needed time away from the crowds – away from the responsibilities and ministry at hand – in order to be still and listen. To be quiet in order to focus upon the ways God was leading him to live.
What I love about the liturgical season of Lent is that as disciples and followers we have opportunity to do just that… spiritually focus. If the truth be told, we have that opportunity each and every day of our lives, but Lent seems to be a powerful journey that calls for intentional inner reflection, that begs attention of our hearts. Repentance, forgiveness sought, souls centered towards a renewed experience – these are the elements asked and required of us as reflective travelers. Pausing – being still- in order that God might take measure of our lives.
I invite you to join me in this practice as we turn our hearts towards the cross. May we all &8220;withdraw&8221; in order to pray and focus upon Jesus&8217; cross … and so my encouragement to you?
Don&8217;t just do something, SIT THERE! Sit there and consider the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and its meaning for your life.
Bryan Sisson is pastor at Morningstar United Methodist Church in Chelsea