The Inner Light (scripture: John 1:1-14)

What Friends call the “inner light” has been an integral part of Quaker Faith and Practice from the very beginning. Here are the words of George Fox from his journal as he describes his opening regarding it:

“Now the Lord opened to me by his invisible power “that every man was enlightened by the divine light of Christ”, and I saw it shine through all. And that they that believed in it came out of condemnation to the light of life, and became the children of it. But they that hated it and did not believe in it were condemned by it, though they made a profession of Christ.”

The “Light of Christ Within” is that central, divine principal which has been referred to by Quakers in a variety of terms: The Light Within, Christ Within, Inward Light, Inner Light, Spirit of God, Holy Spirit, Seed, Measure, and—also by George Fox himself –“That of God in Everyone.”

As we heard in our scripture this morning, the Light is a biblical term for the divine presence. It is found in John chapter 1 and in John 8:12 (Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.); and besides in John, we find it in 1 Thess. 5:5 (for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.) and Eph 5:8 (For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—.)

It is clear that Fox and other early Quakers understood the Light to be referring to Jesus Christ. Also crucial, is that for Fox, the Light was that which shows us evil and that which brings us into unity with God. Wilmer Cooper explains these two ideas well when he says “The first is an ethical emphasis on turning from evil to the good, whereas the second has to do with salvation, which is reconciliation with God and with one another in the community of faith.”

Howard Brinton, a modern day Quaker scholar defines the Light with these words: “the Light is the source of Truth, the source of Power to act on the knowledge of that truth, and the source of unity wherein as we are obedient to the Light we are brought into unity with God and one another. This is the redemptive process by which we are reconciled with God and all creation.”

To more clearly define the meaning of the light within, Cooper offers several distinguishing characteristics that I feel are important to name as we attempt to acquire a complete understanding about it.

First, the Light is experienced as the direct and immediate presence of God. It is God’s grace that allows us to receive this and enable a divine-human encounter. We Humans cannot work to acquire it on our own.

The Light is divine in origin and it stands apart from our finite existence. It is not just a part of human nature. “That of God” is OF GOD.

The Light is understood to be universal. This means that everyone has this ingredient within their being. Believers AND NON BELIEVERS. The Quaker founders held that it was possible to be “saved” by Christ whether or not one had heard of the historical Jesus through the work of the Light.

As inward teacher, the Light has the capacity to instruct and direct and should be obeyed. The personal connection between oneself and God that enables hearing, learning, and responding is the work of the inner Light.

“The Light Within is not to be identified with or confused with conscience and reason, but both can and need to be illuminated by the Light of Christ.” Robert Barclay used to explain this distinction by comparing conscience to a lantern and the Light to a candle that burns within the lantern.

Finally, response to the Light is to be discerned in the community of faith. Christ is not only the Inward Teacher for the individual, but also the one who can instruct and guide the group of believers.

There are problems and challenges that have resulted from the idea of Inner Light. One is how to relate the Light of Christ to the Jesus of History. According to Friends, these two separate realities are united. The leadings of the inward Christ are in agreement with Jesus’ teaching and character. Howard Brinton has maintained that although Jesus was completely human, he was also divine in that he possessed the Light without measure.

Additionally, Friends themselves throughout history have differed and divided on the role and authority of the inner Light. More evangelical Friends understand scripture to be the primary means of revelation of God’s will. More liberal Friends understand the inward Christ as being the focus of guidance that will enable living a good and faithful life. More evangelical Friends believe that humanity is so evil that the death of Christ is the only atonement that can save us; those on the liberal end of the spectrum emphasize the redemption of humankind that Jesus brings through his life and teachings. They argue that Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate act of love, a way of showing how God suffers for the evil humans do. Many evangelical Quakers understand the Holy Spirit as the divine presence that is active among believers today. The inward light Quakers—most generally are liberal Friends and are those who emphasize the Light motif.

While Friends have never been very precise about theological language or very orthodox in their view of the Trinity, all this juggling of terms and understandings can create confusion and obviously has led to conflict. The ideas about inner Light almost seem to me to add another dimension to what Christianity has long defined as the Trinity—God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. My practice is to try not to become preoccupied or overwhelmed with terminology; and as much as I would love to have an orderly, well-defined Divine presence—one that I can get a handle on, I seek to understand that there are many aspects of God beyond my knowing. I delight in using many of the terms: Light, Spirit, Christ, Jesus, God, and so on. I have experienced first hand the illumination, warmth, energy, and revealing nature of the Light. I have also delighted in the Holy Spirit’s instruction, comfort and enabling power. Does the Light convey power? Does the Holy Spirit teach? Yes, just as the Light can comfort and the presence of Christ can bring knowledge. The one thing I know for certain is that my encounters lead me to be in relationship with a Divine Presence that can and will do many things in order to reveal itself and become partners with humanity. Quakerism is a faith that allows for all sorts of experiences beyond doctrine and theology. The inner light is a distinctly Quaker term and understanding that can open the door to faith, and has become the way for many folks to experience God.

I want to close with the New York Yearly Meeting’s statement about the inner light. It is found in the section called seeking the spirit…notice as you listen to this reading the interplay of the terms we have utilized and begun to explore this morning.

This section begins with a quote from Early Quaker Lucretia Mott:

‘My faith is firm in the blessed, the eternal doctrine preached by Jesus and by every child of God since the creation of the world, especially the great truth that God is the teacher of his people himself; the doctrine that Jesus most emphatically taught, that the kingdom is with man, that there is his sacred and divine temple.’

Faith and Practice goes on to say: There is that of God in everyone. This principle of the Inward Light, the Christ Within, illumines for us every corner of religion, philosophy, ethics, morals, daily living, social relationships, and international relations. Before we can express this faith to others, whether in words or in deeds, we must first experience the reality of the Inward Light in our own souls. Then we are released to be faithful to this Spirit. The corporate and personal disciplines Friends have used are the means by which we have found and experienced the presence of God. Through these disciplines we have been able to remain faithful in our witness to the world. “Seek, and ye shall find,” said Jesus. From the beginning Friends have emphasized the search. We do not have the whole truth. But we can search diligently for understanding and use some of the guides that help us grow toward the Light.

And so, we go back once again to what Caroline Fox asks:

What canst thou say? Art thou a child of Light and hast walked in the Light, and what thou speakest is it inwardly from God?

May we all be blessed and taught and accompanied and empowered and supported as we seek our way in the Light and Love of God.

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Quakers and the Bible scripture: 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Let’s start by looking again at the passage from Second Timothy we read earlier. You can find it on the insert in your bulletin. First, notice the phrase that is in bold. “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” That’s actually the entire 16th verse of the section from 3:14 through 4:5. This verse is the one that is used often (and loudly in my experience) when some of my more evangelical or fundamental Christian sisters and brothers are trying to prove scriptural inerrancy—or the belief that the Bible is the ultimate written spiritual authority, and is the sole and complete truth for any issues of faith and practice. As one local congregation says in their articles of faith, “The Bible is the written will of God”; totally and completely. It was interesting to me to discover that this verse as it relates to the passage that contains it, reveals a different lesson about the role of Scripture.

2 Timothy is written as the apostle Paul’s farewell address to his most devoted assistant Timothy. It contains the wisdom and special insight Paul has that he thinks will equip Timothy to face the hardships and opponents of the Way—the movement that has formed after the death and resurrection of Christ – in the days ahead after Paul is gone. These are the core beliefs and practices of the new faith that must be promoted and shared in order to prosper and grow it. If you read carefully the passage from this morning, it is clear that scripture—according to Paul –IS NOT the ultimate source of divine presence and power. The goal of Timothy and all believers should be to utilize the scripture as INSTRUCTION in the way of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, which should be the goal of all believers. According to bible scholar Dirk Lange, “the descriptive words here are important: teaching, correcting, training. The scripture invites us into a pattern on gospel living. It does not provide “yes” and “no” answers to every situation, every question, every dilemma…The goal of scripture is not to elicit correct answers from us…The passage in this Sunday’s epistle points us elsewhere. The teaching, admonition, and training lead us somewhere beyond the use of scripture or tradition as merely identity markers, boundary keepers, and ultimately means for self justification. The proper use of scripture and tradition leads us to ‘every good work’.

It leads us to a life that is lived in remembrance of Jesus Christ, a life that embodies this remembrance.”

It has also always been of interest to me that when I hear verse 16 used as a proof that all scripture is inerrant, most folks are of course thinking of the new testament—specifically the gospels. Of course, when this is written, there is no “new testament”. Scripture refers here to the Hebrew bible. Thus, then, in the video, when Paul Buckley talks about the way Quakers read the Bible; under the immediate direction of the Holy Spirit, I believe he is talking about a perspective that is more clearly called for within the Bible itself.

Additionally, Paul speaks about the situation he’s encountered where a lot of Quakers DON’T read the Bible. I think he’s speaking about the reality that exists for many Christians. It is important to realize that In earlier times—say the 1650’s when the culture gave rise to so many movements that were unhappy with the established church tradition—including Quakers—that the Bible was the most pre-eminent book in the English-speaking world. For many people, it was the only readily accessible book and it profoundly influenced views of life, society, history, politics, and the world. Fast forward 350 years into a reality where we are inundated with all sorts of written communications; newspapers, email, texting, eBooks, as well as the tons of conventional books published each year, and we can see why the bible occupies a diminished role. As Friends, whose faith and practice does not proclaim the bible as the inerrant word of God, there is more likelihood that the Bible is NOT a major focus of a Quaker’s faith life. I would agree with Paul that the Bible is often a lost resource for Friends.

However, if we jump back in time again to the day of George Fox and early Quakers, we would encounter a group—a movement who knew and used the Bible as a key element in their understanding of God, and in their expressions of faith. According to Wilmer Cooper in his book on Quaker faith and practice, “Early Friends immersed themselves in the Bible, which was so much a part of their religious culture that its authority was taken for granted. It was said of George Fox that were the Scriptures lost he could reconstruct them from memory. Whether or not this was true, it is clear that he and other Friends were not only familiar with the Bible, but took it seriously as a religious guide for their lives.” A look at Michael Birkel’s book “Engaging Scripture; reading the Bible with early Friends” discloses that Friends used the scriptural texts to symbolize and describe the circumstances that they themselves were encountering as they sought to share and spread their form of “primitive Christianity revived”. Their writings and letters are rife with biblical phrases, and references to biblical themes and experiences. For example hear the opening lines of George Fox’s epistle 227: “Sing and rejoice you children of the Day and of the Light. For the Lord is at work in this thick night of darkness that may be felt. Truth does flourish as the rose, the lilies do grow among the thorns, the plants a-top the hills, and upon them the lambs do skip and play.” Besides sounding biblical, EVERY WORD of that quote refers or suggests a key concept or quote from the Bible.

YES; the Bible was important to friends and continues to have the potential to affect our faith and practice in these days.

But, for Friends, it has ALWAYS been about where the scriptures LEAD; under the direct and inward influence of the Holy Spirit—from the very first generation of Quakers. In a section of his journal George Fox wrote:

“I was to direct people to the Spirit, that gave forth the Scriptures, by which they might be led into all truth, and so up to Christ and God, as those had been who gave them forth. . . . These things I did not see by the help of man, nor by the letter, though they are written in the letter; but I saw them in the light of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by his immediate spirit and power, as did the holy men of God by whom the holy scriptures were written. Yet I had no slight esteem of the holy scriptures, they were very precious to me; for I was in that spirit by which they were given forth; and what the Lord opened in me, I afterwards found was agreeable to them.”

As Quaker scholar Stephen Angel says, “According to Fox’s mystical understanding, the openings from the Spirit came first, and the consultation of the book later.” This is the foundation of the Friends core belief in immediate and direct revelation by the Holy Spirit, THROUGH the scriptures. Our own New York Yearly Meeting’s faith and practice describes this reality very well.

“Because the Bible expresses the work of the Spirit, its authority is dependent on the Spirit itself. The same Light that inspired the prophets and apostles can illumine anyone who seeks to understand the truth. Such illumination is itself the highest authority. It unites us in the gospel of forgiveness, love, and community taught and lived by Jesus, and draws us into his struggle to realize the Kingdom of God, a world brought into unity with God’s will.”

There are differences across the spectrum of Friends belief today that reflect the path Quakers have taken through history; as they were affected by the religious world around them, and the specific leadings that folks have understood to be divine insight regarding how the bible is treated. There are even Friends who would agree with the statement that I read from a local congregation concern the role of scripture in faith. The differences can divide and have separated us in the past, but I choose to utilize them to engage in scripture personally in ways that allow me to experience the direct presence of God.

How exciting it can be to open oneself to the reality and power of the divine through the Holy Spirit illuminating the words of the Bible. My best hope is that we all start or continue to explore the scriptures for ourselves as individuals and as a faith community. As you might imagine, there are several practices developed and utilized by Friends that encourage the Bible to come alive in our faith journeys. I look forward to sharing those with you during our discussion time and continuing this conversation with you about scripture and it’s role in our lives as Quakers.

Let us take some time now to listen for God’s word to us about the Bible and our lives in our waiting worship.

Why God Cares About the Carpet Color message from 10-05-14, scripture Numbers 27:1-11

Quaker meeting. for worship. for business. The full name says it all…meeting for worship. For business. And, as Eden Grace so articulately reminds us in the video, we are in fact discerning and then working to be obedient to the will of God in ALL those things that affect our faith community; SPIRITUAL AND SECULAR; monumental and mundane, through the deliberate acts of corporate devotion and waiting and prayer together.

I have found that once a person realizes the power and legitimacy in this way of conducting the affairs of an organization, all other methods pale in comparison. Recently, in other meetings of community organizations I have longed for the periods of quiet, for the orderly conversation, for others who recognize God’s presence, like I find in Quaker business meetings.

The primary distinctive of a Quaker business meeting resides in what the goal is for our business gathering. We are not seeking to only make decisions based on the support of a particular action by the greatest number of attenders at the meeting. We are working to determine what God wants rather than collecting majority opinion… Many Quakers or Friends acknowledge this distinction by alluding to the fact that through a meeting for business, UNITY is achieved about any given issue or action. Unity is that condition in which all voices are joined harmoniously into one whole. All perspectives have been considered and a response has been melded together that reflects the input of every voice. This is NOT unanimity, where all the individual responses have been the same or made to become the same, thus resulting in a consensus decision. An example of unity could be found in the formation of a musical chord, which is the joining together of three or more distinct individual notes producing a whole new unique sound. This work takes effort, and the understanding that ultimately everyone is seeking to be aligned around what God’s perspective is on the topic or issue. Quaker Patricia Loring says that those who seek in this way find a “deep, interior unity which is a sign the members are consciously gathered in God and may therefore trust their corporate guidance.”

Integral to the good functioning of a business meeting is the ability of the clerk to competently fulfill their role. Although this position is roughly parallel to a chairperson or president, it does include a different focus. While a president or chairperson has hierarchical authority that allows that person to determine the agenda of the gathering, as well as control the flow and focus of business as the meeting unfolds, a clerk is primarily concerned with operating at two levels simultaneously, while maintaining group order in the proceedings. On one level, a clerk must be sensitive to the group—ensuring that all get opportunity to express their views, working to clarify and guide the discussion. Another level involves the ability to seek divine guidance regarding the business at hand. “Clerking requires considerable self-restraint; the clerk is to be obedient to the considered will of the meeting even when his or her personal judgment may be different. When the clerk senses unity is near, a minute may be proposed that embraces the sense of the meeting…and sometimes a clerk will frame a minute that is somewhat different from any view that has been expressed but incorporates all of them so well that all present unite with it.

Not all responsibility for productive business meetings lies on the clerk. EACH INDVIDUAL participant should work to contribute to a successful, productive gathering. Careful listening, respect and trust for one another are crucial. Decision-making can be time consuming, requiring those present to wait in silence occasionally, until a new direction emerges. Each individual speaking only once to each issue or topic is also a good discipline to follow. It is important for any and all meeting attenders to understand that every person has information, insight, and energy that is vital to the business process.

There are also a couple of other types of gatherings among friends that impact or contribute to decision making. These too are meetings for WORSHIP for whatever the issue at hand entails.

When a meeting encounters a decision that is complex or where they are likely to reveal major differences of feeling or understanding, preliminary meetings to air these differences and to hear from one another may be desirable and help the process of mutual understanding. Quakers designate such meetings as “threshing meetings or sessions”. The name is derived from the assumption that through them the chaff might be separated from the grain of truth, clearing the way for later action on the issue. However no corporate decisions are made at such meetings. My personal experience with threshing sessions includes a meeting at Wilmington Friends in Ohio, as the faith community struggled with the issue of having an American flag on the platform in the worship room. We sat together for between 2 and 3 hours one Sunday after our worship service in order to hear one another’s views and discern together in silence. This gathering did help the monthly meeting move through some emotional and hard places, creating the environment from which a proposal was created that was approved at a later meeting for business.

Meetings for clearness take place to help an individual member or attender of the meeting find clarity around a leading or concern in their life. Usually a clearness committee is formed from the monthly meeting to meet with the person desires guidance. These may be requested when an individual is considering a major life decision and would benefit from sitting in worship and answering discerning questions. This could include but would not be limited to when they are feeling called to some sort of ministry, or considering a job change, a move in location, or any significant transition or issue. Clearness committees are also part of the Quaker marriage process. I have asked for clearness committees in order to define what and where I might pursue a pastoral ministry position at a couple different times in my career. I have also been on clearness committees considering a person’s educational opportunities and options, as well as one that focused on how to arrange childcare and work so that all members of a family had their desires and needs taken care of.

At the core of each one of these decision-making processes among Quakers- meeting for worship for business, threshing sessions, and clearness commitees– is the truth and reality that we encountered in our scripture about the daughters of Zelophahad. Those 5 women challenged the assumptions of their culture that said that the Law was the ultimate answer for any of life’s issues. Their leader Moses, who had a relationship with the divine that included the ability to ask questions and seek responses, went to talk to God about this circumstance that would have led to the daughters losing their family’s land. When God responds to this inquiry, we can discern and understand that God desires this kind of connection with ALL humans. As Eden noted, God CARES: about anything and everything, and wants to communicate with us. While the issue at hand deeply concerns the daughters, their land is their life—in the same way that our concerns about carpet, and sound systems and the budget occupy and affect us and our faith communities—the bottom line is that God responds because ULTIMATELY, the transformation of the world is affected. Our actions, based on the response of a loving and gracious God promotes the spread of the reign of God, and shares the Good news in the places and people of our community and beyond. That is why God cares about the color of carpet in the meetinghouse.Our God is a God who desires and values relationship with humans that supports and nurtures and enables all facets of our lives, as well as the empowerment of the promotion and growth of the Kingdom of God. Our decision-making practices encourages and allows our relationship with God to prosper the whole world.

Come to business meeting and partner with God in creating a world based on love, peace, justice, equality. It really does start right here!

The Sound of Silence scripture: I Kings 19: 9b-13

To say that the prophet Elijah was having a rough time is an understatement. This flamboyant and strong person, who is unconditionally loyal to God no matter what or where, has had quite a run of events and activities that have exhibited the devotion to Yahweh that ALL Israelites SHOULD have. He has predicted a drought, brought an young man back to life, stood up to King Ahab, and overcome 450 priest of Baal. If you’re more interested in the details, see I Kings 17-20. But here in chapter 19, Elijah has reached the end of his rope, in spite of all his successes. He is physically tired, frightened, anxious, depressed, fleeing for his life and contemplating suicide. He DESPERATELY needs a word from God. He is told to go to the mountain and wait. Elijah shelters in a cave on that mountain, and there witnesses a wind, an earthquake, and a fire. None of these bring what Elijah needs or longs for. Finally, a silence envelops that place, and Elijah goes out in it to encounter God.

Now, I am not particularly prophetic and my life doesn’t seem to be as eventful as Elijah’s. I have, however, been exhausted mentally, physically and spiritually. I have LONGED to have some indication from God that communicates the certainty of and the presence of the Divine. I would anticipate that all of us here have found ourselves in similar circumstances. The Religious Society of Friends or Quakers offer to us humans a faith that is built on the reality that Elijah discovered; that God can be found in and communicated with through silence. Friends would be the first to tell one that a crisis is not needed to insure an encounter with God in silence; Quakers understand that that experience can happen in any time or place where someone might seek to embrace or connect with God. Quakers do though understand silence to be particularly meaningful and rich as they seek it together. This contemplative style of worship can answer any or all who want to work corporately to enable it to happen.

I offered the following quote last week to begin to name the value in this quite radical form of worship, and I think it is worthwhile to repeat it at the beginning of our exploration of silent worship this morning to describe both the individual’s and the gathered group’s role in enabling it to happen. Unprogrammed Quaker meeting for worship is “the only radical alternative form of Christian worship where each is personally responsible for one’s own spiritual journey and which can only be grown and nourished in corporate gathering.”

What do Friends think or hope, will happen in this type of gathering? One Friend stated simply that “Meeting for worship is a time I choose to spend in the presence of God. Silent worship is about becoming friends with God.” I think it is vital to remind us again that what we are after is NOT simply silence for silence’s sake, but rather like Elijah, we seek to encounter GOD in the stillness. This kind of worship doesn’t happen without effort; we should also come ready to be participants; mere physical attendance is not enough. And, there are ways in which we can prepare before the actual worship time begins. Expectancy, and attitudes of waiting and listening are vital attributes to carry into our worship. We will be exploring some practices that an individual might utilize to nurture the weekly meeting for worship and their own spiritual life throughout the week during the discussion time after worship.

Most folks understand that a state of deep worshipful silence is not instantly attainable as the meeting begins. There is an initial time of centering, when folks work to lay aside those things that connect them to the external world and preoccupy their efforts at communication and communion with God. The goal is to be as present and open as possible to what will come as we go deeper. There are ways to attend to the inner realities that bubble up inside; some folks will read scripture or other spiritual writings as they begin, others might note the issues and concerns that occupy their thoughts and deliberately lay each one aside to clear the space, some will give thanks for specific items, people or circumstances in their lives—using that to lead them into stillness. Closing one’s eyes seems to help many folks; opening your eyes may work as well. Even Elijah needed a process that enabled him to realize he was in the presence of the holy—he journeyed through the wind, earthquake and fire before he was ready for the silence.

Another detail in the Elijah scripture and the video that informs or reminds us about our attempts at silent worship, is to understand and rely on that the silence itself is NOT empty. It isn’t a void space to be filled. Other translations of verse 12 in our reading convey that the stillness is alive with Divine Presence…Where the translation we heard reads “sheer silence”, other versions use “gentle whisper”, “low murmuring sound”. The Common English Bible is my favorite; the 12th verse reads “After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet.” Brent Bill in his book, Holy Silence, says “The only thing I can compare (silent worship) to is the Catholic belief that in the ‘celebration of mass…Christ is really present through Holy Communion to the assembly gathered in his name.’ It is the same way with silence for Quakers. Friends believe that Christ is actually present…we believe that when our hearts, minds, and souls are still and we wait expectantly in holy silence, that the presence of Christ comes among us.”

Sometimes, there are verbal messages that one or several of those gathered may feel moved to offer as a response to the experience of being in communication and communion with God in the Silence; this is called giving vocal ministry. This sort of ministry can be seen as humans becoming instruments of the divine, where “one has the sense that the speaker has been spoken through or played through, rather than having spoken herself.” Another Friend states that “a spoken message in a Quaker meeting is clearly not a sermon or homily but something more modest and yet more wonderful. It consists of opening one’s soul to fellow worshipers and either humbly offering some insight that one finds helpful and hopes they also may value; or offering one’s spiritual need in the hope that others may be led, by dwelling on their own inner light to illumine some aspect of the matter.”

While this all may sound trepidating or difficult or worse, it is the experience of generations of Quakers that this type of worship is what gives vitality and energy and inspiration to their personal faith and their faith communities. It does take practice and persistence to be able to take full advantage of the opportunities that silence provides.

We here at Adirondack Meeting, while being a programmed meeting, do attempt to utilize silence in meaningful ways. Our gathering silence is a time for centering at the beginning of our worship, where we can work to focus on the time and space that are present. The silent meditation happens at a time just after the joys and concerns of our faith community have been offered…encouraging us to take these into our time with God and allowing them to be bathed in the light of our corporate concern. The silences out of which the pastoral message is given and then into which we return, is when worshippers might go more deeply into silence and encounter the divine presence—with or without the illumination of some piece of the message. This time perhaps occasionally gives rise to some vocal ministry among us. The other elements of worship—music, scripture, vocal prayer are also designed to enhance the experience of communion present in the silences. Additionally, there is opportunity on Wednesday evenings to gather in an unprogrammed worship where there are no spoken prompts—there is only quiet space.

Please hear me when I say that I offer these thoughts not as prescriptions for how things SHOULD happen, but rather as possibilities that may assist us most importantly in connecting with the Source of our faith and life. There are MANY varieties of experiences with silence. I think Friends should gather regularly to discuss and share and ask questions that help us all as we grow and develop and journey, offering to anyone who joins us a place where God might be known and heard as we worship.

As Brent Bill says “Quaker silence encourages us to relax into the love of God until we hear the Spirit’s voice whispering softly into our soul’s ear.”

It is my hope and prayer that we can continue to do this here, as we sit quietly together.