Many things swirling in my consciousness:

  • punishment
  • silent
  • waiting
  • disarm

Punishment:

Why have we not given this up years ago as Friends?  We could join the Mennonites as beacons in the world of restorative justice.  Today, as our President contemplates how to answer the unfathomable chemical weapons unleashed, he keeps using this concept.  Payback time.  That is what it amounts to.  Friends, at the time of 9/11/01,  were saying Justice Not revenge.  Where did our efforts go in the last 12 years?  Have we taken this to our hearts and do we live it in our lives?  I know I have been trying, and I know it is not easy.

Silent - and Waiting:

Having read Wess Daniels sweet piece about children and worship, I saw again the way we describe our quite still worship as 'silent'.  We all do this.  But describe our aspiration?  The word silent becomes its own goal, disconnected from spirit.   Do we fear people we do not know speaking?  Are we hoping for children who will 'behave'?  What can we do to change our descriptor so that it says more what we yearn for? 

From Wess's blog, I think he and I want the same thing: a place where we are entering the connection to the divine.. we are waiting.

Perhaps we can begin here to substitute waiting for silent when we talk about our worship. Some one or group began to do this a while back... If we all pick it up,  Over time it will change.  George Fox does not use 'silent' when he speaks of worship in his journal.  It was a word he used to stop people from speaking, and a word he describes people's responses to what he has said or what is happening.

SILENT is a place of nothingness.  But the divine is not nothing.

WAITING shows an action. We are waiting for divine connection.

Disarm:

As I sit here today in prayer, with the conviction that military action in Syria will do nothing good, I yearn for the president to consider a disarming act.  I pray that the focus will be on the people of Syria, not on punishing a nation for a horrific act.  I have heard from those who have suffered abuse from parents that when well-meaning grownups in the store have chided parents they see mistreating their children that the children get more abuse when they get home.   Whether or not we have gotten it right about the gas, there are ways our military responses have shaped the middle east in particular ways.  What might the U.S. begin to do that would be disarming?  

I am praying... and emailing from FCNL site my prayers to our President.

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Joan - 

Thanks for these thoughts and I completely agree. I prefer "waiting worship" as a description as well. It's often the language I have been trying to use more and more. In evangelical circles it seems like we say "open worship" but I don't really know the history behind that. 

Anyways - I have found that silent worship is more concrete and communicates more clearly to little children and visitors. And when I explain it I always am quick to say that if you feel led to speak during this time than please do so. 

I think it's okay to use different language in different settings and try and be as concrete as we can so that people know the why, how and what of what it is we're doing.

In our meeting we rarely have "waiting worship" that is completely silent - it happens, but the general trend is that there is that vocal ministry will arise during that time. 

And Thanks again. 

A couple of years ago my meeting started using the term "expectant waiting" to describe Quaker worship instead of "silent", for the very reasons you've expressed.

We have always had a good mix of all silent worships and worships with vocal ministry. But I've noticed that the deepness and quality of worship has significantly improved (whether all silent or sprinkled with vocal ministry) since we all now clearly understand that we are expectantly waiting for a gathered connection as a community with the Spirit.

I think consciously using the "expectant waiting" term has helped to make a difference.

I also prefer "waiting worship" or "expectant waiting" rather than silence or meditation.

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