Some reflections which have been on my mind following a recent conference I was at. It was very encouraging in some ways - lots of bright enthusiastic folks - but it seemed to me that maybe we need to massively step up our Quaker education processes to get Meetings functioning enough to support their members to answer God's call to act on this and other issues! Lots of people seemed to have a disappointment and a lack of hope and energy for the collective dimension of Quaker life. That concerns me as I think the collective stuff is essential. I am not conviced we can live christian lives on our own. I think we need to be part of that wider group in fellowship and discernment. It's the collective element of our discernment that's meant to help stop us going right off the rails like Ranters, mistaking our own will for God's. Are we ready to get the collective discipleship thing started up again?
It's not as if the issues or the challenges of this time of ecological and financial crisis are entirely new - after all our movement was birthed in enormous civil upheaval. I believe God can lead us to answer the challenge of our times if we are ready to help each other respond. We have this whole kitbag of tools from Quaker tradition from journalling, working together in prayer, in listening worship, bible study together, to travelling ministers, ways that have been found to be reliable to learn about God's leadings, and ways of recording and responding to the needs of the poorest Friends. It's all there for us to use if we want to look for it.
Are we willing to go deeper into the life of Christ? One of the bible passages that came up during the weekend in worship was Luke 10. Jesus is instructing his disciples to go out spreading the word and calling others to join in it. "The harvest is ready but the labourers are few". That's my sense of where we might be as a church at this time. I believe there is a clear instruction for all of those who are able to act, and more all the time are laying down their conventional businesses and plans to work more and more for this vision of a future of peace and justice, or at least the survival of the human race, to come about.
It is for all of us to hear what our place is in the work whereby God reconciles us with the nonhuman world through God's pure goodness and grace. We might be called to support others in doing what they are called to, or in helping others to hear and obey what God asks of us. Or we might be called to start up some project in our free time. We might even be called ourselves to get free of our "day jobs" and go out to do God's work full time. It's what a church is for: helping its members hear and obey God's will for them. There are people around the world already doing these things and if we are prepared to learn how to be a people of God together, there is the potential for amazing things to happen. We don't know what the future holds, but we can be confident that God is beckoning us into it and that the potential is always present for peace and justice to break out when we live under God's guidance.