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.

Cynthia Fleming

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

"Silent Waiting"

 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

 

29.03

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:

25.01

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

25.02

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

Live adventurously.

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

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