Better than new?

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.

3 thoughts on “Better than new?

  1. Hey – don’t do something different on our account. We’re coming to see you as you are. I am really looking forward to experiencing worship among Friends in Newberg – according to the way God leads you. I’ve read such interesting things on several Newberg Friends blogs – it will be wonderful to be there in person and see what new sparkles and reflections appear in us as we seek Christ with you.

    We just received our letter of introduction from our Meeting’s clerk so we’ll bring that.


  2. Great! I’m glad you’ll bring a minute. We won’t do things differently because you are there…I just meant I’m more aware of our differences as I think about worship as you might experience it. I think it’s a great honor that you are giving us the gift of your presence with us.


  3. I really liked being reminded that God can make us “better than new”. I frequently find myself wishing I were more like my former self- say in high school or early college when I was purer, more introspective, and more in a daily relationship with God. It’s not like I want to go back to that time and miss out on all the good (and bad) stuff that has happened to me, but it feels like I was better back then. “Better than new” sounds great right now. It also sounds impossible. That reminds me that I keep seeing a poster of Muhommad Ali in random places, bearing the quote “Impossible is Nothing”. I like it for it’s play on words, but mostly because it made me think, and that’s something. I was thinking about it yesterday morning and I got this flashback from my station at Outdoor School at the beginning of this month. I was leading the activity called the Spider’s Web where kids have to get everyone in the group through the holes in a net withought anybody touching it. Kids kept saying “this is impossible”, and I kept saying “remember that you said that in 15 minutes”. It was powerful for kids to see that something they thought would never happen was actually only 15 (sometimes 40) minutes away. It was pretty great stuff, but it mostly tells me that things I think couldn’t happen are no big deal for God, and that is a great thought. Thanks for getting an actual thought kick started in me.


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