Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
This morning I posted 2 status updates on my QuakerQuaker page, the 1st:
"Two years ago today, 23.04.2012, whilst at World Gathering of Friends in Kabarak, Kenya I realised I was a convergent Friend."
I am Friend through convincement, a Christian from the mystical tradition but I also love working ecumenically, and doing out-reach work.
In Kenya 2012, I met several flavours of Friends and saw how much I shared with Conservatives (without being one) and many social justice Evangelicals and Friends from the programmed worship tradition. It was the enjoyment and need of worshipping with my heart and mind being prepared for expectant waiting, but also the heart and soul for semi-programmed and occasionally programmed Friends that made me realise I didn't comfortably fit into the traditional liberal "silent/occassional popcorn ministry" style of the FWCC-EMES section.
Prior to going to Kabarak, I was invited by FWCC Friends in the European and Middle East section (EMES) to lead all those gathered into prayer.
One quiet Monday evening as I sat reflecting, the prayer flowed quickly and with almost no editing was finished and sent to FWCC-EMES for inclusion in the programme, so it could be translated into French, Spanish and Kiswahli. Some of the feedback I received from my fellow section members, was not as as I had expected, to a couple it appeared I was not being very representative of the (very liberal) EMES section. Now as I re-read this prayer 2 years later, I can see the language "could" put fFriends off, but I still find it inspirational and deeply Quakerly.
This time exactly two years ago, on second day (Monday) 23.04.2012 we in the FWCC EMES section led worship on the theme of the conference, here is my prayer.
Hamjambo Maarafiki, (hello Friends)
As we begin to gather ourselves for our traditional form of worship and settle , let us look inwardly to the centre, ….. and listen to our hearts as we wait expectantly for the Spirit to move us.
Let us pray, for our Friends here at this conference, our home communities and this world we live in.
Lord, you are our creator and the reason we are gathered here today, “Asante sana” (many thanks) for giving strength to all those that have made this conference possible. You are good all of the time, and all the time you are good!
We thank you for this opportunity to expectantly gather in your presence and in the silence to hear your quiet still voice.
Let us be uplifted in your spirit, and know that you are within us, and yet also amongst us, not just here in Kabarak, but also in our daily lives as we try to be your salt and light.
With the help of your grace,
Deliver us from the seduction of wealth and power
Through Jesus, the lamb,
Save us from the idolatry of control and the forces of fear
With the compassion of the living Christ,
Help us stand for what is true
With your abiding kindness,
Help us to love even our enemies
With the living Christ’s passionate love,
Help us tear down the walls between rich and poor,
With your overwhelming goodness,
Guide our feet as pilgrims of peace
With the living Christ’s fervent conviction,
We will work for truth and justice
With your infinite mercy,
Help us live in solidarity with all people
Through the power of love and your unending faithfulness,
Help us to transform the sins of hate, racism, war and oppression to build your beloved community of love, respect, peace and freedom.
Lord, you have given us three things that will last forever
Faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.
As we enter the silence, please hear our prayers and have mercy upon us.
We ask this in Jesus’s name,
Afterwards, so many people came up to me and thanked me for the prayer, it ended up showing the diversity of the EMES section, but it also reached out to touch the hearts of others, the power of prayer, at work.
This morning, as I spiritually prepared to leave for Aalsmeer, near Amsterdam in this worlds Netherlands, for our CPT in Europe 2014 convergence, CPT in Europe Website I realised the significance of this prayer with my work with CPT and my self-identification as a Convergent Friend. When I was last on team with CPT in Hebron (12/2013 - 01/2014) I led worship several times, and I now realise how similar this prayer is to the CPT "Litany of Resistance" prayer we use in some of our work. The spirit of Christ does indeed move in mysterious ways - praise be!
I like ecumenical work and my involvement with Christian Peacemakers Teams since 2007 is ecumenical, I like the form of Christianity practiced amongst us. We are (a) living church, with plenty of faith-grounded witness and regular worship which I have also enjoyed occasionally leading.
As we will be ecumenically working to transform with Gods love, the European Unions external borders and promote solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers, I thank God for the strength, guidance and the clarity I have received these last few years.
Whether it be in this worlds occupied Palestinian territories, being with CPT in Sweden in 2013 or talking about CPT at Kabarak University in 2012, I have felt the presence of Christ who has come to teach me himself.