I'm always surprised which sermon topics resonate with people. This Sunday we examined the lively sin of solitude. As an introvert, I was hard on the extroverts that bug me on plane rides with their questions about what I do and if I have any kids. I was hard on the psychologist that told me that my personality type (INTP on the Myers-Briggs inventory) wasn't suited for work as a Pastor. And I was hard on all of us for holding up the extroverted, charismatic, affable, and gregarious type as our ideal leader. After a take down like that, I'm not surprised the extroverts kept quiet. I didn't hear from any of them afterwards and I won't be surprised if the congregation shrinks considerably this Sunday.
The introverts, though, sent balloons, flowers, emails, thank you cards, and a few of them even called. I appreciated the phone calls the most as unprompted phone calls from introverts are the highest form of flattery.
Once I came off my soap-box I realized that I'd neglected to offer any suggestions about what to do with all the solitude I'd encouraged. I've learned from experience that even solitude can use some structure. Post-modern protestants like us may find it's necessary to borrow from other traditions to meet the need for guided meditation and prayer. As I proposed in the sermon Sunday, our inclination as the church is to turn every solitary spiritual exercise into a group activity. Prayer, Bible reading, retreats, and acts of service, which can and do happen alone, get the most attention and resources in Church when they are transformed into group activities.
We've been small-grouping our churches into little hives of spirituality while neglecting the importance of solitude. Below are a few resources borrowed from other Christian traditions that can help if you're ready to buck the trend. [divider_flat] [threecol_one] [/threecol_one] [threecol_two_last]
Celtic Daily Prayer
This recommendation comes courtesy of Laura Belcher who attends Downtown Church. It's origins are in the Northumbria Community of northern England. If you haven't experienced the rugged, warm simplicity of Celtic spirituality and need an intentional break from self-imposed business, this might be for you. [/threecol_two_last] [divider_flat] [threecol_one] [/threecol_one] [threecol_two_last]
An Everyday Book of Hours
I use this guided worship devotional regularly. It provides morning and evening prayers for four weeks. I like this guided prayer book because of it's flexibility. The prayer services can be as long or as short as you need, you can jump in at any time during the year, and each service makes space for singing, silence, reading, and prayer. [/threecol_two_last] [hr]