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Theme Chosen for Sessions 2019
The theme for the 2019 Annual Sessions has been discerned: “Provoke one another to Love.” The phrase comes from a 1656 epistle from Margaret Fell, and was quoted in the Yearly Meeting 2018 Epistle:
Friends have prophesied boldly. Early Friends were intimately aware of the discomfort of God working in us. A print of Margaret Fell’s words appeared on our podium Tuesday: “Friends, let the eternal light search you, and try you, it will rip you up, lay you open. Provoke one another to Love.
The original, in Margaret Fell’s “Epistle to Convinced but not yet Crucified Friends” (1656) follows:
Now, Friends, deal plainly with yourselves, and let the eternal Light search you, and try you, for the good of your souls … It will rip you up, and lay you open, and make all manifest which lodges in you; … Therefore all to this come, and by this be searched, and judged, and led and guided. For to this you must stand or fall.
... Therefore, dear Friends, abide in the cross, and keep your minds to that which is pure; … Consider one another, and provoke one another to Love and to good works, not forsaking the Assembling of yourselves, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, ... Dwell in love and unity, in the pure eternal Light; there is your fellowship, there is your cleansing and washing.
I hear much in this theme to challenge us: a call to community with the responsibility to provoke each other to Love, and to be accountable to bring each other into that fellowship of love and unity; an invitation to explore what early Friends experienced when they spoke of abiding in the cross and to explore how we, in our experiences, share the same sense of transformation and new life; and an opportunity to remember what we mean when we speak of Love. The revolutionary spirit that gives us courage when “confronted by the fierce urgency of now” that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of at the Riverside Church in April 1967:
… an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by … the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response ... I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life.
The theme of the coming Annual Sessions will inform my prayers throughout the year. I invite you to also pray on this and see what rises.
Fritz Weiss, presiding clerk