I realized yesterday that I have been failing to do something I said I would do: I was (for a brief period of time)putting up BEFORE Sunday the bible text we would be looking at in worship, and asking for your reflections as a way to have others shape and give input and help me discern the voice of the Spirit in preparing what I share in gathered worship. I want to get back to that in a few weeks, when I next bring the message.
Here is what I shared yesterday about Micah chapter 4. In a book which gathers together many difficult words of judgment with words of hope, this first beautiful picture of hope is like an oasis in the desert. In the last few years, I have been deeply moved by the opening that God is not one to “throw out and start over”. Infinitely creative, God seems to enjoy finding ways to re-make and renew and redeem our wrong choices. This characteristic of God goes against what we long for, what we often desire…but I’ve grown to think of it as God’s most awe-inspiring characteristic.
I continue to wrestle with whether my clear call to share messages from scripture fits with how Quakers understand worship. Maybe better stated, I’ve wrestled with whether being the one to most often speak words about scripture in itself is detrimental to others seeking the voice of God themselves. A post recently from Peggy Parsons on catching a message has been helpful to think through the issues; I find many correlations to her experience in my own experience. I spend a lot of time working on my own receptivity, my own sense of being open to hear from God. I understand (perhaps more intuitively than in ways that are easily delineated) the difference between “bringing a message” and “preaching”, and like Peggy, I think there is room in the world for both. I recognize more and more how foreign our expression of worship must seem to unprogrammed Friends…perhaps my senses are heightened as I look forward to Robin and family’s visit in a few weeks. But in the wide range of expressions of worship which Christ’s followers exhibit, our openness to God’s Spirit, our practice of silence, our desire for all to participate in the teaching element of worship seems foreign as well to other evangelicals. We really are in a world in-between, a sort of uncomfortable netherworld of existence…yet it does seem to be how God has led us to follow Christ in the world.
Ok, enough naval-gazing for now. Sorry. Just some things I’ve been thinking about, due in part as well to AJ’s post and some comments, especially Starla’s. I want my first priority to be completely attentive and obedient to God’s opening and leading within me, and when I’m honest, I can be distracted from that. I think I’m at my worst when I’m worried too much about being “Quaker enough” or “relevant enough” or “post-modern enough.” But God is up to something in my connections with other Quakers and other churches here in Newberg. God is opening new facets of God’s self to me, and I look forward to how these facets bring out new sparkles and reflections as I continue to seek Christ.