Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do … I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
How amazing, and even frightening, that to the extent that we allow Christ to be in us, we may together do greater works than Jesus did!
The tension has grown in recent years, as governments and Native American tribes have engaged in lotteries and casinos. Even causes we support commonly turn to raffles as fundraisers.
We witness to the fact that a lottery is an inefficient way to raise money for education or other socially valued causes. If you want something, you should be willing to pay for it directly, rather than expect someone else to foot the bill. As for gaming, the odds are vastly against winning, and I find myself working far too hard to enjoy throwing hundreds of dollars down the drain. Even a weekly Megabucks ticket adds up. As one of my coworkers insisted, “Lotteries are a tax on stupidity.” He might add, “a tax on despair,” as well, especially for lower- and middle-class Americans whose purchasing power keeps shrinking. If anything, the glamour of gaming masks this reality. Maybe, just maybe, the hope goes, I’ll escape my condition.
Friends have warned against the inclination to expect something for nothing or at someone else’s expense.
Yes, it’s tempting. As in “temptation.” Need I say more?
Representatives from neighboring Quaker congregations get together four times a year to check in on each other and events in their home meetings. The practice, called Quarterly Meeting, has its own clerks, treasurer, and other officers, as needed.
In the past, it was a big event. The smaller meetings, in fact, would not have their own worship that Sunday — everyone would be off to wherever the Quarter was gathering. I suspect much of it was a family reunion, one filled with a holiday spirit.
Nowadays is a different matter, especially as we struggle with finding a better fit between our Monthly Meetings (the local groups that worship each week but conduct business once a month) and our much larger Yearly Meetings — in our case, New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.
These photos are from a session of Dover Quarterly Meeting that took place in the newly renovated West Epping meetinghouse.
At the time, my faith was somewhere between agnostic and logical positivist – and vehemently anti-Vietnam war and anti-Christian. Yet when someone asked, “Where do you think you’ll wind up, as far as religion goes?” I blurted, “Probably something like Zen-Quaker” – this, when I had little idea of either practice or, for that matter, the way that becoming a yogi a few years later would lead me to join Friends first and ultimately Dover.
Those who open themselves and admit this infusion subsequently become the object of This Love. A lover gives to the beloved, regardless of response. Building on the ancient Quaker metaphor, the Light transforms the Seed as the object of This Love. Awakened, the beloved completes the circle.
I see this awareness suggested in 1 John 4:
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. … If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby, know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. … God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect.
In the course of John’s epistle, we can substitute “light” or “give light” for “love” without losing of meaning – although “love” does direct action more fully than “light” initially does.
When I graduated from college, I hardly expected to survive past my mid-thirties, and the way things were going, maybe I wasn’t far off the mark. On the other hand, I never anticipated the turns this journey has taken.
I had envisioned myself either returning to my hometown and writing for a newspaper that no longer exists, or else working in the heart of a large metropolis with its range of concerts, galleries, lectures, and theater, possibly after going back for a law degree. Of course, neither way opened, but the ashram route did. I, who started out somewhere between agnostic and logical positivist, was now on a spiritual pathway that would lead me to our meetinghouse.
Traditional Quaker worship holds the expectation that the Light, or Christ, in our presence, will reveal something. (A fitting description, light revealing.) Perhaps, too, this Light will open something, much as seeds in the springtime react to sunlight. This Light may even erupt in prophetic utterance as vocal ministry. This Light is to energize us and make us fruitful, much as sunlight does to plant life.
Suppose I had gone to law school, after all, or married my college sweetheart, for instance? Or stayed in the Midwest all along, and how would that have shaped my spiritual growth or writing? The truth is that I never would have ventured into yoga or from there into Quakers.