Virtual Meeting Archive
Readings for this week: 22nd March 2020
From Anne Wood
Advices and Queries 8
Worship is our response to an awareness of God. We can worship alone, but when we join with others in expectant waiting we may discover a deeper sense of God's presence.
We seek a gathered stillness in our meetings for worship so that all may feel the power of God's love drawing us together and leading us.
Quaker Faith and Practice 2.11
True worship may be experienced at any time; in any place- alone on the hills or in busy daily life- we may find God, in whom we live and move and have our being. But this individual experience is not sufficient, and in a meeting held in the Spirit there is giving and receiving between its members, one helping another with or without words. So there may come a wider vision and a deeper experience.
Today was the first time I sat at home for an hour, knowing that my Quaker F/friends were all doing the same. It was a very moving experience. I opened my Directory and, one by one, held my Friends in the Light and thought about the ways that knowing them all has enriched my life. It is such a strange time we are living in and I don’t think there has been a parallel in recent history. We are all scared, but it occurred to me that we needn’t be any more frightened now than usual. Yes, the pressure of serious illness on our NHS is very concerning but beyond that, do any of us get to choose the time or manner of our passing? No. So, we are no worse off than normal. What counts now is how we live and how we love. What sort of heart do we bring to the Light? We are blessed at this time to live in an age where we can reach out and interact through phones, wi-fi, instant email and the like. We should make the most of that and make the most of this time of slowing down, this time to think and to be
Human Beings instead of Human Doings.
Readings for this week: 29th March 2020
From David Taylor
Advices and Queries 21:
Do you cherish your friendships, so that they grow in depth and understanding and mutual respect? In close relationships we may risk pain as well as finding joy. When experiencing great happiness or great hurt we may be more open to the working of the Spirit.
Quaker Faith and Practice 22.10:
In friendship we are beyond law and obedience, beyond rules and commandments, beyond all constraint, in a world of freedom. But did not Jesus say, ‘Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you’? Yes, he did. We, on our side, are apt to miss the quiet humour of his paradoxes. ‘These are my commandments,’ he goes on, ‘that ye love one another’.
In other words, the friendship of Christ is realised in our friendships with one another. His command is that we rise above commandments, and therefore his obedience is perfect freedom. Make service your centre, with its laws and duties and self-sacrifice, and life is a bondage. Make friendship the centre and life is freedom.
John MacMurray, 1942
Readings for this week: 5th April 2020
From Anne Bennett
BYM Advices and Queries 9
In worship we enter with reverence into communion with God and respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Come to meeting for worship with your heart and mind prepared. Yield yourself and all your outward concerns to God’s guidance so that you may find ‘the evil weakening in you and the good raised up’.
Quaker Life and Practice Ireland Yearly Meeting 2.4
Friends meet together for worship on the basis of silence. Indeed, does not the idea of communion imply quietness and meditation? There is a desire to listen and wait, seeking for the love of God in our hearts. This may well be more important than to hear words spoken by man. As the meeting continues some may follow a suitable meditation; some dwell on the deeper joys and sorrows of life; some recall an incident from the Scriptures; some lead the meeting in prayer. Gradually, those who have met together may be led to let go of personal concerns and to experience a growing sympathy with the feeling of the meeting as a whole. Imperceptibly, all are drawn into deeper unity.
Thoughts after the Meeting:
During the time of today’s Virtual Meeting I found an idea that helped me to centre and I wanted to share it, just in case it helps others.
Last week I had a terrible time settling to the Meeting. I felt separated and distant from Friends and very restless.
This week, as I went through the Directory listing for each of us, I held each person in their accustomed place in the Meeting House and it suddenly felt as though we were all there, together in the Light. The Meeting House was full! Full of people, full of life and full of love.
We will get through this time and be together in more than thoughts once again.
Readings for this week: 12 April 2020 Easter
From Barbara Miller
Advices and Queries 3
Do you set aside times of quiet for openness to the Holy Spirit? All of us need to find a way into silence which allows us to deepen our awareness of the divine and to find the inward source of our strength, Seek to know an inward stillness, even amid the activities of daily life. Do you encourage in yourself and in others a habit of dependence on God's guidance for each day? Hold yourself and others in the Light, knowing that all are cherished by God.
QF&P Chapter 29, 01
How can we walk with a smile into the dark? We must learn to put our trust in God and the leadings of the Spirit. How many of us are truly led by the Spirit throughout our daily lives? I have turned to God when I have a difficult decision to make or when I have sought strength to endure the pain in dark times. But I am only slowly learning to dwell in the place where leadings come from. That is a place of love and joy and peace, even in the midst of pain. The more I dwell in that place, the easier it is to smile, because I am no longer afraid.
If we dwell in the presence of God, we shall be led by the spirit. We do well to be remember that being led by the spirit depends not so much upon God, who is always there to lead us, as upon our willingness to be led. We need to be willing to be led into the dark as well as through green pastures and by still waters. We do not need to be afraid of the dark, because God is there. The future of this earth need not be in the hands of the world's 'leaders'. The world is in God's hands if we are led by God. Let us be led by the Spirit. Let us walk with a smile into the dark.
Readings for this week: 19th April 2020
From: John Gwatkin
Matthew Chapter 6, V 25-34
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Advices and Queries 10
Come regularly to meeting for worship even when you are angry, depressed, tired or spiritually cold. In the silence ask for and accept the prayerful support of others joined with you in worship. Try to find a spiritual wholeness which encompasses suffering as well as thankfulness and joy. Prayer, springing from a deep place in the heart, may bring healing and unity as nothing else can. Let meeting for worship nourish your whole life.
Reading for this week: 26th April 2020
From: Lindsey Townhill
Advices and Queries 7
Be aware of the spirit of God at work in the ordinary activities and experience of your daily life. Spiritual learning continues throughout life, and often in unexpected ways. There is inspiration to be found all around us, in the natural world, in the sciences and arts, in our work and friendships, in our sorrows as well as in our joys. Are you open to new light, from whatever source it may come? Do you approach new ideas with discernment?
Reading for this week: 3rd May 2020
From: Anne Wood
Quaker Faith and Practice 2.12 (first paragraph) and 2.13
2.12. In Silence which is active, the Inner light begins to glow- a tiny spark. For the flame to be kindled and to grow, subtle argument and the clamour of our emotions must be stilled. It is by attention full of love that we enable the inner light to blaze and illuminate our dwelling and to make of our whole being a source from which this light might shine out.
2.13 True silence...is to the spirit what sleep is to the body,nourishment and refreshment.
William Penn 1699
Reading for this week: 10th May 2020
From: John Andrews
Quaker Faith and Practice
We seem to be at a turning point in human history.
We can choose life or watch the planet become uninhabitable for our species.
Somehow, I believe that we will pass through this dark night of our planetary soul to a new period of harmony with the God that is to be found within each of us, and that S/he will inspire renewed confidence in people everywhere, empowering us all to co-operate to use our skills, our wisdom, our creativity, our love, our faith – even our doubts and fears – to make peace with the planet. Strengthened by this fragile faith, empowered by the Spirit within, I dare to hope.
Pat Saunders, 1987
Reading for this week: 17th May 2020
From George Thompson
Advices & Queries 9
In worship we enter with reverence into communion with God and respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Come to meeting for worship with heart and mind prepared. Yield yourself and all your outward concerns to God’s guidance so that you may find ‘the evil weakening in you and the good raised up’.
2.15 Silent Waiting
I know of no other way, in these deeper depths, of trusting in the name of the Lord, and staying upon God, than sinking into silence and nothingness before Him… So long as the enemy can keep us reasoning he can buffet us to and fro; but into the true solemn silence of the soul before God he cannot follow us. John Bellows, 1895
Readings for this week: 24th May 2020
From Anne Bennett
Advices and Queries 1
Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life.
Quaker Faith and Practice 20.20
For a Quaker, religion is not an external activity, concerning a special ‘holy’ part of the self. It is an openness to the world in the here and now with the whole of the self. If this is not simply a pious commonplace it must take into account the whole of our humanity: our attitudes to other human beings in our most intimate as well as social and political relationships. It must also take account of our life in the world around us, the way we live, the way we treat animals and the environment. In short, to put it in traditional language, there is no part of ourselves and of our relationships where God is not present. Harvey Gillman 1988
Readings for this week: 31st May 2020
From Wendy Gwatkin
Quaker Faith & Practice 2.06
The pleasure I had found in Meeting for Worship seemed startlingly simple, and I held this treasure quietly to myself, exploring its significance, feeling it almost too good to be true. Part of its simplicity was that I and others were to start just where we were at the moment and proceed at our own pace from there. How blessed that there were no restraints of belief. The promptings of love and truth were the starting places and we could move at our own pace to recognise them as the leadings of God - the beyond which drew me and others on from our limitations and despairs and smallnesses.
(Ruth Fawell 1987)
Readings for this week: 7th June 2020
From: Ruth and Peter Allen-Williams
Advices and Queries 29
"Approach old age with courage and hope. As far as possible, make arrangements for your care in good time, so that an undue burden does not fall on others. Although old age may bring increasing disability and loneliness, it can also bring serenity, detachment and wisdom. Pray that in your final years you may be enabled to find new ways of receiving and reflecting God’s love."
From Quaker Faith and Practice 21.46
"Those of you who are kept by age or sickness from more active work, who are living retired lives, may in your very separation have the opportunity of liberating power for others. Your prayers and thoughts go out further than you think, and as you wait in patience and in communion with God, you may be made ministers of peace and healing and be kept young in soul.
London Yearly Meeting, 1923"
From "Twelve Quakers and Death" by Quaker Quest, No 8 (p27)
"I have no idea what happens after death beyond a certain undefined feeling that there is something.....
No one can know. It seems pointless to speculate. It makes a lot more sense to live this life as though it is the only one we have and to make the most of it - to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves, to use what talents we have been given and to make every effort to enjoy the life that we have."
Readings for this week: 14th June 2020
From: Sue Harris
Both readings from Quaker Faith and Practice:
The produce of the earth is a gift from our gracious creator to the inhabitants, and to impoverish the earth now to support outward greatness appears to be an injury to the succeeding age.
John Woolman, 1772
Our planet is seriously ill and we can feel the pain. We have been reminded of the many ways in which the future health of the earth is under threat as a result of our selfishness, ignorance and greed. Our earth needs attention, respect, love, care and prayer. In comfortable Britain we are largely insulated from the effects of the environmental crisis. It is the poor of the world who suffer first. As a Religious Society of Friends we see the stewardship of God’s creation as a major concern. The environmental crisis is at root a spiritual and religious crisis; we are called to look again at the real purpose of being on this earth, which is to till it and keep it so as to reveal the glory of God for generations to come.
It is a stony road ahead but our faith will uphold us; the power to act is God’s power which is mediated through each of us as we give and receive support one from another. We can all listen if we will to the sounds of the earth, tuning into it with joy. London Yearly Meeting, 1988
Readings for this week: 21th June 2020
From Cilla Eisner
A sudden concentration of attention on a rainy August morning. Clusters of bright red berries, some wrinkled, some blemished, others perfect, hanging among green leaves. The experience could not have lasted more than a few seconds, but that was a moment out of time. I was caught up in what I saw: I became part of it: the berries, the leaves, the raindrops and I, we were all of a piece. A moment of beauty and harmony and meaning. A moment of understanding. (Ralph Hetherington 1975 QFP 21.27)
Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy. (Rabbi Abraham Heschel)
I call heaven and earth to record this day to your account, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed shall live. (Deut. 30:19)
Reading for this week: 28th June 2020
From Cynthia Fleming
Advices and Queries 6
Do you work gladly with other religious groups in the pursuit of common goals? While remaining faithful to Quaker insights, try to enter imaginatively into the life and witness of other communities of faith, creating together the bonds of friendship.
Luke 6:31 records Jesus saying, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” which some say he superseded with this:
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; As I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." [Gospel of John, King James Bible version].
Here are similar messages from other religions:
Commonsensism: A version of the golden rule put into modern, non-religious terms that some people live by is, "Treat people the way you'd like to be treated".
Buddhism: 560 BC, From the Udanavarga 5:18- "Hurt not others with that which pains yourself."
Judaism: 1300 BC, from the Old Testament, Leviticus 19:18- "Thou shalt Love thy neighbour as thyself."
Hinduism: 3200 BC, From the Hitopadesa- "One should always treat others as they themselves wish to be treated."
Zoroastrianism: 600 BC, From the Shast-na-shayast 13:29- "Whatever is disagreeable to yourself, do not do unto others."
Confucianism: 557 BC, From the Analects 15:23- "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others."
I am praying for the world to find common ground to stand on in the coming days, months and years.
Reading for this week: 5th July 2020
From David Thorpe
Listening Spirituality, vol. 2, Patricia Loring. P 11, para. 2.
Some people who join us view the silence from the standpoint of what is not there: the absence of some objectionable element that forced them from another congregation.
In the absence of liturgy, creed, preaching or instruction, many people come to their own understandings of the meeting for worship. These are often moulded by their experience in other settings that may look similar but, in fact, are grounded in totally different intentions or assumptions.
A & Q 10
Come regularly to meeting for worship even when you are angry, depressed, tired or spiritually cold. In the silence ask for and accept the prayerful support of others joined with you in worship. Try to find a spiritual wholeness which encompasses suffering as well as thankfulness and joy. Prayer springing from a deep place in the heart, may bring healing and unity as nothing else can. Let meeting for worship nourish your whole life.
Reading for this week: 12th July 2020
From Lindsey Townhill
Quaker Faith & Practice 23:33
Guided by the Light of God within us and recognising that of God in others, we can all learn to value our differences in age, sex, physique, race and culture.
This enables mutual respect and self-respect to develop, and it becomes possible for everyone to love one another as God loves us.
Throughout our lives, we see ourselves reflected in the facial expressions, verbal comments and body-language of others. We have a responsibility to protect each other’s self-respect.
Personality, sex, race, culture and experience are God’s gifts.
We need one another and differences shared become enrichments, not reasons to be afraid, to dominate or condemn.
The media have increased our knowledge of the world, but we need greater self-awareness if our actions are to be changed in relation to the information we receive.
We need to consider our behaviour carefully, heeding the command of Jesus that we should love our neighbours as we love ourselves.
Meg Maslin, 1990
Readings for this week: 19th July 2020
From Wendy Gwatkin
Faith & Practice: 28.2
When you come to your meetings … what do you do? Do you then gather together bodily only, and kindle a fire, compassing yourselves with the sparks of your own kindling, and so please yourself … ? Or rather do you sit down in the true silence, resting from your own will and workings, and waiting upon the Lord, with your minds fixed in that Light wherewith Christ has enlightened you … and prepares you, and your spirits and souls,
to make you fit for his service?
William Penn, 1677
Advices & Queries: Postscript
Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.
George Fox, 1656
Readings for this week: 26th July 2020
From Margaret Burkett
Faith & Practice: 10.27
Are there not different states, different degrees, different growths, different places? …
Therefore, watch every one to feel and know his own place and service in the body, and to be sensible of the gifts, places, and services of others, that the Lord may be honoured in all, and every one owned and honoured in the Lord, and no otherwise.
Isaac Penington, 1667
Advices & Queries: 27
When choices arise, do you take the way that offers the fullest opportunity for the use of your gifts in the service of God and the community?
Let your life speak.
When decisions have to be made, are you ready to join with others in seeking clearness, asking for God’s guidance and offering counsel to one another?
Reading for this week: 2nd August 2020
From John & Jacqui Andrews
Advices and Queries 21. 41
It is in the workshop and at the bench that an insight into the soul of wood craftsmanship can be truly gained.
There are tools, there is the wood – rude planks, ungarnished, their surface scored with the saw. Between them, and without which each is useless, must come the soul and spirit of the designer and craftsman; the deft hands prompted by an alert mind; the knowledge attained only through years of study and service; the creative instinct and ability that will, by the correct use of the tools, transform the mere plank into a thing of usefulness and beauty – possibly a joy for ever… It was at the lathe, when a youth, that I first realised the charm of line, the contour that flows continuously on, diminishing and enlarging, though separated by ornamental members… Those who have studied woodcraft for half a century find themselves still learning and quite unable to pack all their knowledge into a nutshell for the convenience of a beginner.
The training is not that of the university; it is, however, quite as exacting in its own way and so merits equal recognition and respect, and it is encouraging to note that this idea is slowly gaining ground. The woodworkers of a century ago added to their carpentry the dignity of craft; this is why the examples of their handiwork that remain are treasured.
Let it not be assumed that it is merely because such work is old that it is appreciated so highly.
Even a slight study will reveal the artist mind that prompted the hands, the perception that had grasped the principles of design, the certain knowledge in its decisive finish. There is the secret of its permanent inspiration, its power to soothe and charm.
Walter Rose, 1938
Readings for this week: 08th August 2020
From Mary Hartshorne
Quaker Faith & Practice 23.32
I have never lost the enjoyment of sitting in silence at the beginning of meeting, knowing that everything can happen, knowing the joy of utmost surprise; feeling that nothing is pre-ordained, nothing is set, all is open.
The light can come from all sides. The joy of experiencing the Light in a completely different way than one has thought it would come is one of the greatest gifts that Friends’ meeting for worship has brought me.
I believe that meeting for worship has the same awareness to all who have seen and understood the message that everyone is equal in the sight of God, that everybody has the capacity to be the vessel of God’s word.
There is nothing that age, experience and status can do to prejudge where and how the Light will appear.
This awareness – the religious equality of each and every one – is central to Friends.
Ursula Franklin, 1979
‘Don’t judge each day by the Harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant’
Robert Louis Stevenson
Readings for this week: 16th August 2020
From David Taylor
A&Q 33: Are you alert to practices here and throughout the world which discriminate against people on the basis of who or what they are or because of their beliefs?
Bear witness to the humanity of all people, including those who break society’s conventions or its laws.
Try to discern new growing points in social and economic life.
Seek to understand the causes of injustice, social unrest, and fear.
Are you working to bring about a just and compassionate society which allows everyone to develop their capacities and fosters the desire to serve?
Quaker Faith and Practice 23.04
The duty of the Society of Friends is to be the voice of the oppressed but [also] to be conscious that we ourselves are part of that oppression.
Uncomfortably we stand with one foot in the kingdom of this world and with the other in the Eternal Kingdom.
Seldom can we keep the inward and outward working of love in balance, let alone the consciousness of living both in time and in eternity, in timelessness.
Let us not be beguiled into thinking that political action is all that is asked of us, nor that our personal relationship with God excuses us from actively confronting the evil in this world.
The political and social struggles must be waged, but a person is more and needs more than politics, else we are in danger of gaining the whole world but losing our souls.
Eva I Pinthus, 1987
Readings for this week: 23rd August 2020
From Anne & George Thompson
Advices & Queries 28
Every stage of our lives offers fresh opportunities. Responding to divine guidance, try to discern the right time to undertake or relinquish responsibilities without undue pride or guilt. Attend to what love requires of you, which may not be great busyness.
Readings for this week: 30th August 2020
From Anne & George Thompson
Faith &Practice 20:25
Incomparably the most important thing is that each one of us should be sensitive to the call of God to ourselves and not spend time in passing judgment on the lives of others. To some the call will be to adopt the witness of great simplicity, perhaps to live in an Indian village or in a London slum. To others the most important thing will be to maintain our ancient testimony against ‘fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatever’. But perhaps most will be called to the humdrum tasks of serving an employer supremely well, or running a house, bringing up a family, keeping the peace with difficult neighbours, serving the community in little things – the tasks which, because they are simple, are in fact most difficult to do with dedication… Our duty is to be sensitive to what God is asking us to do, and not to dissipate our energies trying to be absolutists in several directions at once.
Industry and the Social Order Conference, 1958
Readings for this week: 6th September 2020
From Anne Bennett
The first Friends had an apocalyptic vision of the world transformed by Christ and they set about to make it come true. The present generation of Quakers shares this conviction of the power of the spirit, but it is doubtful whether it will transform the world in our lifetime, or in that of our children or children’s children. For us it is not so important when the perfect world will be achieved or what it will be like. What matters is living our lives in the power of love and not worrying too much about the results. In doing this, the means become part of the end. Hence we lose the sense of helplessness and futility in the face of the world’s crushing problems. We also lose the craving for success, always focusing on the goal to the exclusion of the way of getting there. We must literally not take too much thought for the morrow but throw ourselves whole-heartedly into the present. That is the beauty of the way of love, it cannot be planned and its end cannot be foretold.
Wolf Mendl 1974 - Quaker Faith and Practice 24.60 Britain Yearly Meeting
Reading for this week: 13th September 2020
From Anne Bennett
Ever since I first came among Friends, I was attracted to the testimonies as an ideal. I wanted to belong to a church which made the rejection of warfare a collective commitment and not just a personal option. I admired simplicity, a devotion to equality, and a respect for others which reflected what I already knew of Christ. In a deceitful world I warmed to those who did not swear oaths and strove to tell the truth in all circumstances. But this was a beginning in the spiritual life. The seed that was sown in my mind and my politics struck root in my soul and my faith.
The choice of the word ‘testimony’ is instructive. The testimonies are ways of behaving, but are not ethical rules. They are matters of practice but imply doctrines. They refer to human society but are about God. Though often talked about they lack an authoritative formulation …..
A ‘testimony’ is a declaration of truth or fact …… It is not an ejaculation, a way of letting off steam or baring one’s soul. It has a purpose and that is to get other people to change, to turn to God. Such an enterprise, be it in words or by conduct and example, is in essence prophetic and evangelical.
John Punshon, 1987
Reading for this week: 20th September 2020
from David Taylor
Advices and queries 41
Try to live simply. A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength. Do not be persuaded into buying what you do not need or cannot afford.
Do you keep yourself informed about the effects your style of living is having on the global economy and environment?
The reading for this week: 04th October
From Lindsey Townhill
Quaker Faith & Practice 10.20
One of the unexpected things I have learnt in my life as a Quaker is that religion is basically about relationships between people. This was an unexpected discovery, because I had been brought up to believe that religion was essentially about our relationship with God.
If we are sensitive, we find that everything that happens to us, good or bad, can help us to build a vision of the meaning of life. We can be helped to be sensitive by reading the Bible and being open to experience of nature, music, books, painting, sport or whatever our particular interest may be. It is in and through all things that we hear God speaking to us. But I do not think I am alone in my certainty that it’s in my relationships with people that the deepest religious truths are most vividly disclosed.
George Gorman, 1982
The reading for this week: 11th October
From Anne Wood:
Quaker Faith and Practice
21.43 If we are getting older it will be harder to acknowledge that we have not been called to spectacular service, that we are unlikely now to make a stir in the world,
that our former dreams of doing some great healing work had a great deal of personal ambition in them.
A great number of men and women have had to learn this unpalatable lesson- then discovered that magnificent opportunities lay all around them. We need not go to the ends of the earth to find them; we need not be young, clever, fit, beautiful, talented, trained, eloquent or very wise. We shall find them among our neighbours as well as among strangers, in our own families as well as in unfamiliar circles- magnificent opportunities to be kind and patient and understanding.
Clifford Haigh, 1962
The reading for this week: 18th October
From Anne Wood:
Faith & Practice 21.38
The Holy Spirit can indeed restore us to health (or stimulate us to work well) through the medium of music as well as prayer or antibiotics! And why indeed should I be surprised that this is so? Creativity is the gift that we were given on the eighth day of creation. In naming and remaking the world we are co-workers with God, and whether we are making a garden or a meal, a painting or a piece of furniture or a computer programme, we are sharing in an ongoing act of creation through which the world is constantly remade.
Jo Farrow, 1994
The reading for this week: 25th October
From Anne Wood
Quaker Faith & Practice 20.16
Our testimonies arise from our way of worship.
Our way of worship evokes from deep within us at once an affirmation and a celebration, an affirmation of the reality of that Light which illumines the spiritual longing of humanity, and a celebration of the continual resurrection within us of the springs of hope and love: a sense that each of us is , if we will, a channel for power that is both within and beyond us.
Lorna Marsden, 1986
The reading for this week: 1st November
From Anne Bennett
“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people's expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn't care if you are a white person who likes black people; it's still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don't look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on.
"So, while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we're immediately born into. It's like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It's not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It's a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it's hard work, but it's the price you pay for owning everything."
From a blog by Scott Woods 2014
The reading for this week: 8th November
From Anne Bennett
An excerpt from ‘God is Silence’ which was a favourite book of Jennifer Herridge and one that I, too, have found a great source of inspiration.
‘In silence which is active, the Inner Light begins to glow – a tiny spark. Here the flame to be kindled and to grow, subtle argument and the clamour of our emotions must be stilled. It is by an attention full of love that we enable the Inner light to blaze and illuminate our dwelling and to make of our whole being a source from which this light may shine out.
By this active silence the soul is prepared for passive silence. Then God brings the soul into silence. A spontaneous attention but not in its inferior and degrading form. The soul which is thus compelled and mystically possessed is liberated and not restricted; in this way the soul realises its deepest desire. It is an enlarging of the soul, a widening of the horizon. Psychologists tell us that attention is an active waiting animated by reason. Silence is an active waiting animated by faith and love. There comes an answer; and then it is that the soul is filled by the Presence.’
Pierre Lacout 1970
The reading for this week: 15th November
From Anne Wood
Quaker Faith and Practice 20.19
It is not necessary that we should know all the mysteries before we begin to follow Christ.
To some of us much that is taught of his person and his work may not be clear, but so it was with the early disciples.
They did not understand at first the mystic union with their master to which they were called, but they followed him, and as they followed, there was gradually unfolded to them the fullness of his love and life.
If we begin where they began, and follow as they followed, we shall end where they ended, in adoring love.
London Yearly Meeting 1909
The reading for this week: 22nd November
From Barbara Miller
To apply the term ‘God’ (in the Christian sense) is to say that we perceive intuitively a connection between the marvels of the natural world, the moral law, the life of Jesus, the depths of the human personality, our intimations about time, death and eternity, our experience of human forgiveness and love, and the finest insights of the Christian tradition.
To deny the existence of ‘God’ is to say that we cannot (yet) see such connections. But even the word ‘God’ is not an essential tool for grasping them.
John Lampen, 1985
The reading for this week: 29th November
From Lindsey Townhill
Quaker Faith and Practice 2.11
True worship may be experienced at any time; in any place – alone on the hills or in the busy daily life – we may find God, in whom we live and move and have our being.
But this individual experience is not sufficient, and in a meeting held in the Spirit there is a giving and receiving between its members, one helping another with or without words.
So there may come a wider vision and a deeper experience.
The reading for this week: 06th December
From Mary Hartshorne:
Quaker Faith and Practice 22.30
The amount of solitude which is attainable or would be wholesome in the case of any individual life is a matter which each of us must judge for himself… A due proportion of solitude is one of the most important conditions of mental health. Therefore if it be our lot to stand apart from those close natural ties by which life is for most people shaped and filled, let us not be in haste to fill the gap; let us not carelessly or rashly throw away the opportunity of entering into that deeper and more continual acquaintance with the unseen and eternal things which is the natural and great compensation for the loss of easier joys. The loneliness which we rightly dread is not the absence of human faces and voices – it is the absence of love… Our wisdom therefore must lie in learning not to shrink from anything that may be in store for us, but so to grasp the master key of life as to be able to turn everything to good and fruitful account.
Caroline E Stephen, 1908
The reading for this week: 13th December
From David Taylor:
Advises & Queries 26:
Do you recognise the needs and gifts of each member of your family and household, not forgetting your own?
Try to make your home a place of loving friendship and enjoyment, where all who live or visit may find the peace and refreshment of God’s presence.
The reading for this week: 20th December
From John & Jacquie Andrews
Waiting in the simplicity of stillness is to wait in reverence.
This is the heart of simplicity as it is of all the Quaker
testimonies. Our first reverence is to Truth, the divine Cause and its irradiation throughout the entire creation. If all beings are sacred then we are impelled to revere all human life, neither killing in war nor neglecting in need, treating everyone with equal dignity. In terms of animal life, our generation is being called to re-evaluate our determination to eat meat. Today’s threat of catastrophic climate change reawakens our need for reverence for planet earth itself: foul our habitat and we destroy humanity. On our one world, all living beings are one interconnected family. The call for a simpler lifestyle is now urgent; the tipping point has happened. Those who experienced the Second World War will remember that under rationing came a fair distribution, better health and no obesity. We now have the basic needs of the world’s entire population to take into account. A war on pollution is a spiritual war on the selfishness, greed and unawareness that lie behind it: our cause may be sustainability, but our watch-cry is reverence – the essence of simplicity.
Twelve Quakers and Simplicity
The reading for this week: 2nd January
From: George and Anne Thomson
21st Century King James Version
25 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight.
27 “All things are delivered unto Me by My Father, and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.
28 “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
The reading for this week: 10th January
From: George and Anne Thomson
Matthew 7: 1-6
“Judge not, that you be not judged.
For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
The reading for this week: 17th January
I have never lost the enjoyment of sitting in silence at the beginning of meeting, knowing that everything can happen, knowing the joy of utmost surprise; feeling that nothing is pre-ordained, nothing is set, all is open. The light can come from all sides. The joy of experiencing the Light in a completely different way than one has thought it would come is one of the greatest gifts that Friends’ meeting for worship has brought me.
I believe that meeting for worship has brought the same awareness to all who have seen and understood the message that everyone is equal in the sight of God, that everybody has the capacity to be the vessel of God’s word. There is nothing that age, experience and status can do to prejudge where and how the Light will appear. This awareness – the religious equality of each and every one – is central to Friends. Early Friends understood this and at the same time they fully accepted the inseparable unity of life, and spoke against the setting apart of the secular and the sacred. It was thus inevitable that religious equality would be translated into the equality of everyday social behaviour. Friends’ testimony to plain speech and plain dress was both a testimony of religious equality and a testimony of the unacceptability of all other forms of inequality.
Ursula Franklin, 1979