Thursday, April 26, 2007

solitude sunday

Yesterday, I sent out an email to Oasis Madrid members concerning a special thing we're doing this Sunday. This morning I got to thinking: "Maybe there are some other folks out there that don't live in Madrid who would like to join us in this." So, I include here on t(r)oymarbles an invitation to join Oasis Madrid in what we call "Solitude Sunday."

If you are planning on doing this, let me know, 'cause I'd like to hear how it went.


"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

Dear Friends,

In the midst of already busy lives, we at Oasis Madrid are very much aware that churches can sometimes add more fuel to the fire of busyness. Sometimes churches keep people so busy we forget to simply "be still" and know that "God is God." We are convinced that God also wants His people to occasionally "slow down" and "take a Sabbath rest", a time when we cease striving to just be in His presence and hear His whisper in our hearts.

That's why you're receiving this message. This Sunday, April 29, the staff of Oasis Madrid will be united in pursuing solitude with God. And we would like to invite you to participate with us in this endeavor: to pursue this time of solitude together, as a church.

You can call it what you will: a "day off", a "Sabbath rest", a "time of peace and quiet". We are choosing to call it "Solitude Sunday". But, whatever label you choose to give to this day does not matter. What matters is the heart you bring to it.

Let me give, at this point, a humorous example: Often, Christians will think: "But, I really should be DOING something today. I really should be GOING TO CHURCH." In the past, folks have thought: "Oasis isn't DOING anything this weekend. Guess I'll go to another church then..."

But, what would happen, if, on Sunday April 29, you didn't have to DO anything, except spend time alone with God in simplicity and "quietness"? What if, as pastors, we gave you "permission" to just be still, to feel no compulsion to engage in "Christian activity", but rather to pursue the cessation of activity (of DOING) for the sake of BEING with God and simply BEING God's?

This is to encourage you: On Sunday, April 29 we would love it if you'd join with us in SOLITUDE. Don't feel you need to "go to church" on this "off week". Instead, try to join with the church in seeking God's face in solitude.

You could do this in one of several ways. Here are some ideas:

1. Spend half the day in a park, just listening to the wind blowing for 3 hours while you lay on your back, with your eyes closed or looking up at the sky.
2. Sit down and just listen to some piano music (with no words) for an hour or so. And really listen.
3. Sit for an hour "doing nothing". How often do you get to do that, really?
4. Write a nice long letter to God.
5. Pray. Just you and God.
6. Praise. Sing a song to God, a cappella. Maybe even an old hymn. For that matter, sing several songs, one right after the other, all your old favorites.
7. Go for a walk around your neighborhood in silence.
8. Read some poetry.
9. Meditate on the Psalms or a story from the Gospels.
10. Paint or draw. A tree, a hand, a cloud, a bird.
11. Go for a hike.
12. Take a long bath. (Preferably in that order!) :-)

If you like, here are a few guidelines you can go by to get the most out of this day of solitude. These are not "hard and fast" rules. Feel free to tweak them to suit. But, in general, if you can apply these things to this day, you will get more out of it:

1. Turn your mobile phone off and don't answer your land line, if you have one.

2. In general, resist the compulsion to "be around people" just "socializing" this day. It sounds strange to say, but "people" can become an "addiction" for some (myself included!). This is a day to disconnect from the world in order to connect with God. This is not to say you need to spend the whole day alone (although some of you may like to try this), but do try to at least spend a good portion of the day with just "you and God", if possible.

3. If you are with others during this time: try to use few words. Let your conversation be characterized by simplicity. Do lots of listening. And spend lots of the time in comfortable silence, even. In other words, give each other permission to just be quiet, to feel no compulsion whatsoever to talk.

4. Refrain from using the internet or from emailing.

5. Keep the TV off the whole day.

The main thing is: just be content to be with God. God rested, and so can we.

One final word: because this is not customary for most churches, we'll perhaps share with one another afterwards how it went, what struck us about this time.

I, for one, am looking forward to this Sunday of Solitude. Won't you join me (and the staff of Oasis Madrid) in stilling your soul so God can continue His quiet, yet penetrating work in our spirit?

Troy (for the Oasis Madrid team)

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