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Friends gathered Monday, August 9, 2010, at 9:15 a.m. to consider the state of our Society, to hear and to answer God’s call. Friends welcomed visitor Theresa Kirby of the American Friends Service Committee. The clerk offered the following queries as we settled into worship:
What is the state of our religious society?
What is our spiritual condition?
What is God calling us to?
Arise, shine, we are bathed in the light, seeking, waiting for revelation. Friends give thanks to God for being with us for 350 years and bringing us to this place where we meet together. We too have been faithful. Young Friends have often shown the way. God has been with us. God was with us in George Fox’s time when thousands of Friends gathered in Newport and felt such love that they took two days to part with each other. God was with us when John Woolman brought his witness against slavery to New England Friends; and God was with the slave owning Friends who sat beside him in worship. God was with us through the schism in 1845, during the First and Second World Wars, and when the Wilburite and Gurneyite yearly meetings reunited. We give thanks for those generations who came before us, in their faithfulness and unfaithfulness. God is with us now as we continue their rhythm, in faithfulness and unfaithfulness, in our openings and closings, and we are confident that there is a love great enough to hold us all. If we are faithful God will be with us in continuing revelation.
We seek our right balance as individuals with leadings and as a corporate community which supports its members’ callings, and embraces and bears witness to our discerned conviction of what God calls us to do. How do we live that balance? That balance and tension is exhilarating, challenging and filled with love. We are, in this Jubilee year, engaged in a process that for some is not easy. Living afresh and anew our faith, we ask for God’s help and the connection among us that is the vital strength of our community.
Before we come to the place of grace, we may not be able to let go of our fear, but we may need to let go of those ways we hide ourselves from recognizing our fears: the illusion of financial security, false security of self-righteousness, or the addiction to being liked and loved that keeps us from speaking truth. There is no safety but accepting God and releasing our substitutes. Then we might be free to be faithful. God calls, though our hearts be filled with our own concerns, God calls.
Among many things we may be called to do, we may stand up and work in our own ways to foster justice in the world. Grieving for the conflicts around the world, where is our corporate witness for peace? May we add in our yearly gatherings a simple meal? In this week are we called to convene a public witness in Washington, inviting all Yearly meetings in the U.S. to a public demonstration against this war in Afghanistan and all wars? In our struggles to reach across differences, how shall we bring our truth to a world in fear? Have we asked forgiveness for the harms we have done, and have we forgiven those who have harmed us? Are we afraid to be washed free through God’s mercy and forgiveness? Are we being patient in discernment or are we just afraid to act? What are the ways that we, individually and corporately, may be hiding from our fears? If we can let go, forgive and be forgiven, then we will be prepared to be faithful.