Solitude for the Sake of Others

Ephesians 4: 15-16: "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped,when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." 

Our sermon today centered on an article, "Solitude: In God for the World," by Ruth Haley Barton. She notes that so many of us are starving these days for real nourishment in our spiritual walk and yet, many of us don't even realize we hungry.

Barton writes:

There is something about the process of having our emptiness filled in solitude that eventually enables us to engage with those around us on the basis of fullness rather than need. If we relax and trust God’s initiative in the spiritual process, eventually something new begins to shimmer around the edges of our lives and relationships.

A different capacity for being present to others in love comes upon us, almost imperceptibly at first. Far beyond the familiar territory of “ought” and “should” we might notice a spontaneous and surprising desire to find a way to bring some of what we are experiencing in God’s presence to others. There is no fanfare to herald such profound inner changes, just the willingness to give ourselves to it.

She has much to say, but one important point is that our time alone with God is meant to strengthen us and equip us to be, in turn, in community with others. 

What are the implications of this message for each one of us? For us as the body of Christ?

A recurring theme in Sunday School, our sermons, and even our prayer meetings lately has been what was the early church like, how can we break free from our cultural norms and return to the essentials, what's the vision for our church. As we consider what Barton has to say about solitude, she has some excellent thoughts, too, about the next steps. What happens when we return to community?

Listen to her truly astounding thoughts about authentic, transformative community and the "choice to walk with others:"

And as we think about out next steps as a church, consider these thoughts -- she's talking about leaders, but her words apply to all of us: 

Trinity Church is unique. What is God doing here and how can we be involved? Take some time to consider these questions in silence and solitude. And then later, may our conversations be such that, like the one on the road to Emmaus, Jesus will want to come and be a part of it.