“Fear not. When thee stops having temptations, the Enemy’s got thee.” — Kenneth Doudna
I’m hoping that a more organic, flexible functioning of Meeting work might lead to other openings as well. Among them:
- That each working group or “mini” might begin to function as a Monthly Meeting along the lines of the separate men’s and women’s business meetings of Quaker history. (For too long, the Monthly Meeting falls into becoming another committee second-guessing the one charged with a task. Shouldn’t we be able to trust others functioning on our behalf?)
- That one of the working group/mini’s functions would simply be to get its participants to know each other more fully in the life of the Spirit. What are our hidden talents and skills? What are our needs and desires? Where are our passions and dreams?
- That within each working group or mini there would be “vacation time” for members and resource people.
- That all of the working groups or minis meet at the same time and place, perhaps as a monthly community day and potluck that includes extended child care.
- That we might even move our Monthly Meeting itself to a time before worship on Sunday – and maybe even meet as a united body just three times a year: once to accept the nominating slate; another, the State of the Meeting Report; and finally, the annual budget.
- That our new slates of officers and working group/mini participants go into effect in January, rather than September, thus avoiding the over-the-summer slow start into the new year.
As much as I love Quaker tradition, there’s no reason we need to do something in a way simply because we’ve always done it that way. We are, after all, a people also known for innovation and progress.
My only additional advice? Keep it simple.
This originally appeared in Dover Friends Meeting’s newsletter as we consider new ways of addressing the needs of our faith community. Unlike many denominations, we Quakers are closely involved in the business of our congregations, or “meetings,” given that name by our recognition of church as the believers or people rather than any organization or building. (And so, the church meets.) The “monthly meeting,” or local congregation, is so named because we gather together to review our common business once a month even though we worship together at least once a week.
In sharing this dialogue, I’m hoping Friends and non-Quakers will perceive ways the discussion might benefit their own circles, religious or otherwise. I certainly welcome insights and suggestions. After all, we’re all in a time of upheaval and the challenges are many. Once again, the world’s being turned upside down.
Early Friends understood the Light to be the Spirit of Christ pouring into their hearts and minds. Just listen to Elizabeth Bathurst (1655?-1685):
- The High Priests and Rulers asked Peter and John, By what Power, or by what Name, they have made the impotent Man whole? For that Name of Christ which heals and saves, is his Power that maketh free from Sin.
- Then spake Jesus unto them, saying, I am the Light of the World, he that follows me shall not walk in Darkness, but shall have the Light of Life. And praised be the Lord, there is a Remnant who have experienced it, and can say with the Apostle, this Thing is true in them, viz. The Darkness is past, and the true Light now shineth, which Light is a Light of the Spirit of the Lord dwelling in his People, and therefore whatever the World may think concerning them, ’tis no Presumption in them to own they are made Possessors of the same, for saith the Apostle to the Corinthians, Know ye not, that ye are the Temples of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? For ye are the Temples of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them.
- And this Light of the unerring Spirit, by which the Lord leads his People in the Way everlasting, it shineth within, It shineth in the Darkness, though the Darkness comprehend it not, as saith the Apostle.
- It shines in the dark Heart of Man, though Man in his dark State cannot discern what it is, yet it is that sure Word of Prophecy, whereunto we do well to take heed, as unto a Light that shineth in a dark Place, until the Day dawn, and the Day-star arise in our Hearts, according to that in 2 Pet. i. 19. which is as much as if the Apostle had said, This is commendable, that you give diligent Heed to the least Measure or this Light, or Grace of God, which he hath dispensed to you, till he shall see sit to bestow a greater Measure upon you.
- For ’tis still but one Thing that I am describing, although rendred by divers Names: Inasmuch as the sure Word of Prophecy, and the Day-star here spoken of, differ only in Degrees, not in Nature and Kind; both which Expressions denote to us, that one Gift of Light and Grace through Christ Jesus, freely bestowed on all Men, and according to the Improvement that they make of their Measures, so an Increase thereof is administred to them.
Note that she equates the Name of Christ with the Power of Christ, rather than the word “Jesus.” To that I would add Divine Love as he has revealed it.