Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
It's a spiritual sense you have to be in tune with. Personal feelings can get in the way so you have to stay until your spirit senses it's time to leave. Frustration with others is not a reason to leave. But sometimes God wants you to move on. There is a season for all things under heaven. If your spirit is at peace than you have to let the carnal man die and loving people who disagree with you is a great way to do that - turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, etc.
Offhand, I'd say the 'dust from sandals' situation is apropos if you've received a prophetic message to deliver someplace, and you've walked a long way through a hot dry climate to get there; and you've got the dust on your sandals to say, 'You tried.' So you leave that there as a form of "I told you so." It might make someone think...
If you've been sitting in Meeting, taking an opportunity to tune in to God in relative peace-- and you get a message to deliver there-- Sometimes you just take a little emotional flack. You don't get back an echo of having been understood. & if you can't get that from people who are supposed to be Friends, then where? It's good to have that echo, just as confirmation that yes, you're still tuned to the Human Sanity Channel... but then again, that's not exactly why we go to Meeting.
Not an easy position, but it sounds like the right way to live in it.
Paula, please use the language that allows you to speak your truth as you find it. I hear all sorts of Quakers saying they cannot speak their truth in their meeting, they are from all points between and beyond theism and nontheism. The issue here, as i see it, is when people presume to speak for others. Just speak from your own experience, not for others and if we all do that, we will be able to address the underlying tension that you identified in common in the struggle for lesbian and gay equality. That some people are more equal than others in our society. Some lifestyles and beliefs are privileged over others. People who believe in god, white people, heterosexuals, adults, university educated, people with clean white teeth! and so on. If we want to live out of a better set of values than this then in my view we all need to be willing to give up - betray the class privileges we have been given for no good reason than accident of birth.
From my experience, it is helpful, outside of meeting for worship, for the meeting community to clarify that the meeting vessel holds a rich diversity of -spiritual experiences, -cultural differences, and spiritual language. I think this would be the case in most meetings. When I first began attending meeting about 30 years ago, I was told by someone with a twinkle in her eye, "in worship, we Friends become good at listening to vocal ministry and reinterpreting within with other language if needed." If there is an absence of acceptance that a variety of spiritual language will likely be heard in worship, - seems to me that a crucial task of the Worship and Ministry Committee is to recognize this challenge and lead the way in supporting the meeting to coming to common ground around the deeply held value of Friends speaking messages from the heart with the language that comes to them from divine nudgings. This might mean having second hour worship-sharings to listen to short readings by Friends, such as G. Fox, Thomas Kelly, Bill Tabor, and others. Can we listen to where the words come from? It can take time for a meeting to do the work of becoming a beloved community. Friends traditionally do not wish to stifle the Spirit that comes through us. We do want to lovingly take the time to listen and support those with wounds. This is how the meeting and Friends grow in Love. Otherwise, for what purpose is the meeting there?
Hi again Paula,
That's wonderful that you are following your leading and being loyal to that.
I find that I am wondering what kind of messages you feel led to share (maybe sometimes it includes trying to share the Gospel or aspects of?)
am wondering if you have felt able and led to speak to exactly what you are experiencing, with vulnerability?
I do not know if this is helpful or not, but I was in a situation where I was soooo used to feeling knee-jerk reactions around me when God is named, but when I one day felt led to speak from a very nervous and vulnerable heart about how I am just in love with God and feeling pain about this dynamic, it seemed to speak to several in the group in ways that I didn't expect.
Since the key words of Christianity feel very different to different people (through the filters of their own experience), I wonder if simple vulnerable messages from your heart which are less about sharing Christian language and concepts but more about sharing your own pain, might speak in ways that others can hear better?
Again, I don't know if this applies at all, of course. Would be interested to hear.
I feel led to vocal ministry almost every Meeting, and I'm uncomfortable with that! I actually go into Meeting with the attitude of , "This week, I'm NOT speaking," but then in the silence . . . something comes to me that is a new insight I have not had before, and as hard as I fight it, I generally lose that battle and am impelled into speaking. And without fail at least one person will later thank me for my ministry. It's very weird.
We've been reading and discussing an article on Vocal Ministry in our First Hour group. It's an article that the Outreach Committee (on which I serve) has decided to include in our Newcomers' Packet.
What's interesting is that in our Meeting there's one person who is so "unpredictable" and even at times I would say inappropriate, or engages in projection as a form of defense in the things he has said in Meeting, if he stands to speak, looking around the room, I can see faces seem to "glaze over." I'm not the only person to notice this. It's as if to maintain tolerance, the others in the Meeting tune in to a different channel when this person speaks.
If a Meeting has a person who perhaps has Ausberger's Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury/Organic Brain Syndrome, a form of dementia, etc., I think the healthiest approach is to tune in on the tolerance channel as far as is humanly possible. I did not know the person but have heard tales of a weighty Quaker who was in our Meeting, and with advanced age, did suffer from dementia, and if she stood to speak, she could go on and on and . . . yeah. That's a difficult situation, because you don't want to hurt that person's feelings, but if their "communication" impairs the functioning of the Meeting, Ministry & Worship MUST find a constructive way to approach the problem.
I think most Quakers are tolerant of "semantics." I've even heard people during Vocal Ministry say, "I don't have a better word for this, so I use _____." That's OK! That's constructive.
There does appear to be some controversy over whether Vocal Ministry should include "I" focused messages, unless the message can apply to at least one other person in the Meeting. Vocal Ministry is not meant to be "True Confessions." The purpose of Vocal Ministry is to minister to the Meeting!
And it doesn't seem to be productive if the Vocal Ministry in a Meeting for Worship becomes a prairie dog colony. We need time between messages to "process." Also, eldering a person in public via Vocal Ministry is rude and unkind, at least that's my opinion.
peace & blessings,
I love God!
Amen, Ken! Hope you are well.
Kenneth Lawrence Schroeder said:
I love God!
Friends, I have taken great joy in this conversation. I have also taken joy in the conversations our meeting is having on our Facebook page. We are really examining "God talk," and talking about our journeys and feelings. I have to believe that this is very important for Friends to do, no matter how painful it might be for us.
I keep coming back to Isaac Penington:
For our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations against another, but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand.
This is such simple and loving guidance for us. Primitive Christianity Revived. By these means we fulfill the Spirit, whose fruits are "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law." (Gal. 5:22)
Yours in Faith and Love, Paula
Though I am not a Christian, I find it a curious thing when some Friends stress that Quakerism has always been "universalist," but apparently regard universalism as including any religion in the universe but Christianity. Thus, they object strenuously when someone gets up and speaks of Jesus.
Maybe what people react to is the privileging of one persons experience over another? Just a thought....
Over and over throughout my life I've had to recognize that there were some people who simply knew more than I did about some things.
This has never been pleasant; but why should anyone find it unacceptable?