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Call to Worship
Gospel Order, Child of Jubilee: How do we get there?
From Linda Jenkins, NEYM presiding clerk
The God of the Hebrew Prophets and of early Friends needs our love. The First and Second Testaments, composed of cycles of stories of how we have repeatedly abandoned God, tell how, in those times of separation, we do harm to ourselves and to creation.
The teachings in the early books of the First Testament culminate in the description of Jubilee, in Leviticus 25. Jubilee is a process of re-ordering lives and possessions, in accord with God’s wishes.
Early Friends expected and experienced the inbreaking of this new ordering by God. They received that power. It transformed, re-ordered, their lives as well as the societies in which they lived. They called it Gospel Order.
We too want to receive this re-ordering power. “Though it tarries: wait for it…” (Habakkuk 2:3). The “it” is the vision of creation consciously in harmony with God. We will wait for this vision this year. Though the vision is already written on our hearts, in our cells, we are not seeing or living it. We need to open to the searching, healing Light that will reveal the ways we have turned from God, giving rise to the disorder of injustice, greed, pride, and fear. And then we need to act.
Can we let go of the surface long enough
to let the Light get to the bottom of the matter?
Instead of our usual Meetings for Worship to Conduct Business, we will have Meetings to Hear God’s Call. (With grace, we may also have Meetings to Answer God’s Call.) This is the business that is properly before us. Foregoing our usual compilation approach to collecting reflections on the State of our Religious Society, we will gather in expectant waiting worship to receive divine guidance and revelation and, like early Friends, to obey.
Therefore, all of our usual items of business will be on the Unity Agenda, which we used last year. The use of the Unity Agenda will, God willing, allow us to gather in many plenary sessions without a pre-set agenda.
Several of our plenary sessions will be co-clerked by the Presiding Clerk and the Clerks of Young Friends (YFs), and Young Adult Friends (YAFs), and attended by those groups, thanks to the minute approved by YFs at their mid-winter retreat. There YF’s requested joint and segmented business sessions, to facilitate our community doing business together. This initiative by Young Friends is a gift arising from our letting go of business as usual, making room for new ways of being.
Several years ago, YFs also minuted, and testified at Sessions, their frustration with the lack of discipline of older adults during meetings for worship of all kinds. They gave voice to on-going concerns of many.
Continued development of the ministry of microphone-carrying will be one way we allow more space between vocal messages; there may be no more than 6 to 8 or so messages per session as a result. We will also bring a way to provide spiritual accompaniment to those who give vocal ministry.
Indeed, my prayer, for carrying forward this time of observing Jubilee, is that we seek and find specific, concrete ways to accompany each other in following the Spirit in our everyday acts of speech and resource allocation (of time, money, attention).
“To restore the lost dimension of Gospel Order to our lives, it is necessary to have a community, to embody a new pattern of living. A single person cannot live a new social pattern alone. Under ordinary circumstances, a person alone will follow the structures of the surrounding society when engaging in any interaction. These are the only structures that exist.” —Sandra Cronk, Gospel Order: A Quaker Understanding of Faithful Church Community, Pendle Hill Pamphlet 297
Come in August so we can listen and act together to begin to create new structures. Please read this pamphlet. Please pray for us all: those who are planning for our time together, those who will come and those who will not come. Especially pray that we become more faithful, and that others may be drawn to the Light as it appears through us. It is sure to be an exciting time.
Viv Hawkins on Individual Witness
Keith Harvey on Corporate Witness
Annie & Peter Blood-Patterson