29 August 2013

Quaker worship ... "Sometimes we get it right"

This article is republished by permission from The Encourager, the newsletter of Deep Creek Friends Meeting, Yadkinville, North Carolina, USA (North Carolina Yearly Meeting, Friends United Meeting). The article is by Shelby Shore, editor.

Quaker Worship – A time of intimate communion with God and one another as His spirit leads.

So we are taught. Sometimes we get it right; sometimes we humans just try to take charge. This last Sunday morning at Deep Creek Friends Meeting, we came close to getting it right.

You see our pastor, Georgianne, is a deeply spiritual individual who takes her responsibilities to the church very seriously. She is also a very gifted speaker and we, the church, are somewhat spoiled by that. Her mother was admitted to the hospital through the emergency room on Saturday. Georgianne showed up Sunday morning to lead the service; she is also an only child who takes her family responsibilities seriously like her church. Wisely, Ministry and Council recognized where she should be and sent her to her family just before worship began and promised we would go on with the service. Some would say, we’ll just “wing it”, but they chose to let God lead and it seems that He did.

Think about it – The music began as usual. Brian Ray, clerk of Ministry and Council, opened the service as Ministry and Council members often do. He shared with the congregation the concern with Georgianne’s family, which lay heavy on the hearts of everyone. Immediately, there was a concern for prayer and the congregation spent a few moments lifting the family to God for his care and covering with peace.

There were the usual announcements, recognition of birthdays, anniversaries, congregation hymns, choir anthem, offering, prayer requests and praise notes. There were some things the pastor usually does that people just voluntarily did and you could have thought had been planned that way for a while.

Then, there was Open Worship that didn’t end . . . Several friends shared concerns and experiences about the Prayer Partner Ministry with all our students now in school. Others shared blessings, experiences of healing, and some scripture. Sometimes we burst into laughter as we remembered silly and foolish mistakes in trying to do good, like a text message “Hello (without the o), I’m your prayer partner”; sometimes we shed tears. Even some of our Baptist visitors felt free to share.

From the pulpit, Brian spoke an observation from his heart “What a wonderful place we have to live in this country – where we can worship as we please without concern for our lives, especially as we look at what is happening in the rest of the world.” He called everyone to join him at the front for prayer, again holding our pastor, her mom and dad and family up to God. The service closed with the hymn, There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place, And I know that it’s the spirit of the Lord. Truly the Spirit was there!

O God, you are my God, and I long for you.
My whole being desires you; 
Like a dry, worn-out, and waterless land, my soul is thirsty for you.
Let me see you in the sanctuary; let me see how mighty and glorious you are.
Your constant love is better than life itself, and so I will praise you.
Psalm 63:1-3

After the final Amen, the clerk, Brian, leaned over and said “What time is it?” As he looked at my watch – straight up 12:00 – he said “The Lord took care of it.”

Georgianne had chosen Psalm 63 for her sermon. It is known as a Psalm expressing the intimate relationship between God and the worshiper. In her absence, it was preached by the people. Read the entire chapter from your favorite version.

-- Shelby Shore

Members of Deep Creek Friends have often prayed for Judy and me. It seems right to invite you to pray for Georgianne Satterfield's mother Jean and for Deep Creek Friends Meeting.

Ordinary citizens in both the USA and the UK seem refreshingly skeptical about the rightness of "punishing" Syria militarily. Meanwhile, no official seems to claim that the kinds of attacks that seem to be contemplated (apparently dictated almost solely by a sort of doctrine of convenience) would do anything more than make the point that using chemical weapons against civilians isn't to be tolerated.

That the world shouldn't tolerate this kind of crime is absolutely right. But cruise missiles can only do two things: destroy targets (from which Syria would soon recover, and which any criminal regime could simply count as a cost of doing business), and kill people. Why do our politicians believe that blowing things up and killing people are objectively sensible responses to awful crimes? Here's Ian Hurd in the New York Times, "Bomb Syria, Even If It Is Illegal" and Eric Posner in Slate, "The U.S. has no legal basis for its action in Syria, but that won't stop us from going in anyhow."

And then this: "Christians in the Middle East unanimously oppose potential raid on Syria." Jim Wallis adds, "... a moral compass must guide our moral outrage."

On BBC's Global News podcast of August 28 (a.m. edition), available at this site for 30 days, Bernice King is interviewed about her father's "I have a dream" speech on its 50th anniversary. The interview begins at 13:43. Bernice King mentions that the speech's global reach actually dawned on her during a visit to Moscow. But my favorite exchange in the podcast is this:
Julian Keane: When I or anyone listens to that speech I hear the civil rights leader. When you do, you're listening to your father. Are you listening to your father, or are you also hearing the civil rights leader?
Bernice King: Well, for me, I'm hearing a prophet. A lot of people don't talk that way consistently, and ... the resonance the tones, the ability to paint pictures, to connect our Constitution to people's real experiences, to connect it to biblical themes, I mean he was just brilliant! And so, he is my father, but I don't hear Daddy. 
I agree, people don't talk consistently about the prophetic dimension of Martin King's speech. It's safer to keep him on a secular/political level, to avoid the implication that something bigger was going on than a speech, however eloquent and timely, something having to do with God's justice and the heavy cost of avoiding its demands. As destroyers head toward the eastern Mediterranean with cruise missiles, another King speech ought to haunt us again with its prophetic message:
... Don't let anyone make you think God chose America as his divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, "You're too arrogant. If you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I will place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name. Be still and know that I am God."
Nancy Thomas on "Dysfunctional families in mission."

Marc H. Ellis, "Will we survive the revival of religiosity?"

Wess Daniels, "Suicide and The Things We Carry."

E-mail's vulnerability leads Pamela Jones to shut down her Groklaw blog.

Yesterday I made my first visit to Cafe Blues near the Kantemirovskaya metro station in Moscow for their weekly "Best Blues Jam." (Previously I've enjoyed these sessions through bassist Sergei Spitsyn's Youtube channel.) It never fails to amaze me how far and wide this most American of genres has spread ... and how musicians from all over the world have made this music their own. Here's a wonderful example, Australia's Fiona Boyes, in a delightfully raw sample of Chicago blues recorded in Switzerland! ...

Fiona Boyes Trio..."Smoke Stack Lightning" from Franco Limido on Vimeo.

No comments: