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St Giles and St George

A time to remember……….Stillness
Sermon date: November 19th 2017

 
Readings:
Psalm 46
1 Kings 19 v.12
Luke 5 v.15-16
Luke 10 v. 28-42
 
Thoughts:
Stillness, the absence of movement or sound, is always shown within the bible as a way for us to encounter God. (Ps 46:10) It is never easy and requires practice, as we need help, to enable us to do nothing! It is a challenge to quieten our minds from the cacophony of noise and distractions that inhabit our daily lives. Yet, time after time, Jesus models to us how he often withdrew to a quiet place to be with his Father, and focussed on God alone. (Luke 5 v.15-16)
 
Question:

  • How hard is it for you to ‘do’ nothing?
  • Why, do you feel our culture/society demands or expects it?
  • What are some of the subtle ways you feel that are communicated about not being ‘still?’

 
Read out loud together: Psalm 46
 
Questions:

  • What does it mean to ‘be still and know that I am God’?

 
Hint: The psalmist says: ‘Be still and know that I am God’, when we remain still, it helps us to know God.
The word ‘Still’ is a translation from the Hebrew word ‘rapa’ meaning to slacken, let down, cease.’
The phrase means to stop frantic activity, to let down, to be ‘still’.
This verse comes from a longer section of Scripture that speaks of the power and security of God.

 
Opening Questions:
 

  • Have you ever practiced being still?
  • If so, what was your experience like?
  • If not, what is keeping you from starting? 

Thoughts:
This single verse from Psalm 46 (Be still and know that I am God) has such a depth to it. In it we are asked to not only have stillness but also to have knowledge about who God is. There are also echoes from (1 Kings 19 v.12) of God being a ‘still, small voice’ or the ‘gentle breeze’ in the story of Elijah hiding in the desert. He eventually finds God in the stillness and silence rather than in the storm or drama. Elijah hears or experiences, an all-important question from God after the storm, fire and earthquake.

Question:

  • What are you doing here?

 
Something we could ask of ourselves, it’s good to review our Christian lives as we sit and listen to God’s
‘Still, small voice’ Spend 5 mins now being still and asking yourselves that question. Then share with each other what you feel, what you have sensed (both positive and negative) and finally how the question has made you respond?
 
Thoughts:
The key to the ‘Be Still’ verse is the way it links stillness with knowledge. Knowledge seems something that we need to pursue and acquire and then use. You won’t pass an exam by keeping your text book under your pillow! Study is an intentional activity, we ‘do’ something in order to get a result; this is conscious knowledge. In this sense knowledge is power. If we have more of it than others, then we are stronger.
Then there is unconscious knowledge, often ridiculed and suppressed, as it seems to those who ‘do’ as not as important or even relevant. This is knowledge that comes from unknowing. It is knowledge that rises quietly in pure stillness and comes precisely when we are not pursuing it, watching it or trying to justify it.
 
Poem by Ann Lewin
Prayer (Stillness) is like watching for the Kingfisher.
All you can do is ‘Be’ there, where he is likely to appear, and wait.
Often nothing much happens; there is space, silence and expectancy.
No visible signs, only the knowledge that he’s been there and may come again.
Seeing or not seeing cease to matter, you have been prepared.
But when you’ve almost stopped expecting it,
A flash of brightness gives encouragement, and he is there


Question:

  • Discuss the conscious and unconscious nature of knowledge, how do you see this in yourself and others? How do we ‘know’ God?

Thoughts:
Coming to this ‘stillness’ sounds easy but it’s not like taking a weekend away at a spa or having down time for an evening watching Netflix. It is certainly important to learn how to relax, especially as we suffer so much from the complications of stress. Relaxation is a good by-product of the work of ‘stillness’, for which the Greek word is hesychia. Rest, quiet and silence also describe it. But relaxation is not the first goal of ‘stillness’
The knowledge of God is not merely our knowledge of God, always limited by our egocentricity, but primarily God’s knowledge of us. God’s love and knowledge of us is perfect and only in ‘stillness’ can we glimpse him fully. He is ‘our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’ and so when we are still, we see our frailties, the masks we live behind and we are more fully able to recognize our need for God.  

Maybe this quote says it more fully…

Quote: We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… .We need silence to be able to touch souls.”                                                      Mother Teresa
 

Question:

  • Has anything else struck you from the bible study, which you would like to talk about?

Extra Questions:
 
Luke 10 v. 39 ‘Mary sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he said’
Question: As you read Luke 10 v. 38-42, why do you feel Jesus says Mary has chosen a better way?
 
 
Luke 5 v.15-16 ‘Jesus often withdrew to a lonely place and prayed’
Question:

  • In verse 15 Jesus leaves the people thronging to him to be healed, so not everyone was healed?

 Question:

  • How do you respond to this?
  • Why did he withdraw when people needed him?
  • What does this tell you about the importance of stillness and prayer?

 
Stilling exercise:
So how do we make ‘stillness’ part of our everyday? Here are some ideas that might enable you to start or keep on going.
As part of the house group evening, take 10-15 mins to do this. Maybe play a piece of quiet music or read a few verses from the bible, this will help the group to focus and then be still together. End by saying ‘Be still and know that I am God’
 

  1. Make time! If you don’t put this in your diary and have a daily rhythm, it will seem less important that ‘doing’. It takes practice and it’s easy to give up, but keep faithful and you will be transformed by daily listening to God’s still, small voice.
  2. Find a place that is still, where you won’t be interrupted.
  3. Set a time for 5-15 mins, as our perception of time passing varies and if we start with 5-15 mins we can increase this as we become more practiced.
  4. Relax, sit in a comfortable chair and focus on God, maybe start by looking at a verse from scripture and then close your eyes and simple ‘be still’ before God, listening. 
  5. Still your mind, random thoughts will come and go, let them pass, and return in your mind to the bible verse or on an image of God that you have, listen.
  6. Be present, let go of the past and don’t go forward into the future, offer all that you are to God, listen.
  7. Journal, it can be very helpful to have a book with a pen and to jot down anything that you have felt, sensed or want to pray about another time.
  8. Try not to struggle, let the stillness surround you and be open to all God has for you. 


Optional Question:

  • How do you feel about being ‘still’ and listening to God now?

 
Recommended Book: Quiet Moments by Tom Wright
 
Closing Prayer:
O gracious God, accept my offering, though it is incomplete. Accept my time, though it is often broken, my energy, though it is often frail. Lead me, guide me, hold me in your straight and simple ways and let me always shine with your love, knowing peace & stillness, always within. Amen
 


Sharon Seal, 13/11/2017


Article printed from www.sgsgashtead.com at 14:09 on 08 April 2020