“For a number of years, the thought of attending a Quaker meeting crossed my mind from time to time … yet, I hesitated, imagining how uncomfortable I could end up being, sitting quietly for an hour in a group of quiet people. …I walked into the presence of God in a way I could never have imagined. I sat there stunned by the realisation that, in Quaker meetings, silence is worship and worship is silent. I found myself in the silence of people for whom feeling the need to worship is their common ground, who know that God is present and that there is nothing that could possibly have to be said by anyone else but him. This silence felt like the most honest and right worship I had ever experienced–no liturgy to get between me and God, no distractions, no words trying to describe a reality beyond the limits of language and imagination. …[Quakers] honour ‘that of God’ within themselves and in everyone else. …There is no ‘method’ setting out what the experience should be like for everyone. Quaker silence feels neither like silence for the sake of silence, nor like a discipline to bend the Self into. This silence is a place beyond our Selves. My whole being is in tune with God who I listen to, and with everyone who listens with me. God is here, and has calmed the storm in my mind. God is here, and creates order and clarity and peace. God becomes so spacious in this silence that I know again how small I am–and that I do not have to pretend to be anything else but small. …I am welcome to speak, as a woman, as a lay person, as a visitor. This is a place as free of judgment or prejudice as it can get between people…. We all left our egos at the door for an hour, and I was glad to get a break from mine. …When I left after the meeting, I knew that everything I needed had been given to me. I had experienced Communion, in the most direct and uncomplicated way. This kind of silence is hard to describe and, I find, hard to forget.” Anyuska
“Listen in silence before me.” Isaiah 41:1
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Could you sit quietly for an hour?
- Can you imagine worship with no need for human speech? …no liturgy between you and God? …no words trying to explain the inexplicable?
- When was the last time you left church feeling that “everything you needed” was given to you?
Abba, envelop me in deep silence.
For More: Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton
If you benefited in some way from this, please share it with others! – Bill
“No one, however, can be content at this point to be a mere ‘layman,’ to be indolent, to be no more than a passive spectator or reader. No one is excused the task of asking questions or the more difficult task of providing and assessing answers. Preaching in the congregation, and the theology which serves its preparation, can be faithful to its theme and therefore relevant and adapted to the circumstances and edifying to the community, only if it is surrounded, sustained and constantly stimulated and fructified by the questions and answers of the community. With his own questions and answers in matters of right understanding
and doctrine, each individual Christian thus participates in what the community is commanded to do. If he holds aloof, or slackens, or allows himself to sleep, or wanders into speculation and error, he must not be surprised if sooner or later the same will have to be said about the community as such and particularly about its more responsible members. How many complaints about the ‘Church’ would never be made if only those who make them were to realise that we ourselves are the Church, so that what it has or has not to say stands or falls with us. There can be no doubt that all the great errors which have overtaken the preaching and theology of the community in the course of its history have had their true origin, not so much in the studies of the well-known errorists and heretics who have merely blabbed them out, but rather in the secret inattention and neglect, the private drowsing and wandering and erring, of innumerable nameless Christians who were not prepared to regard the listening of the community to the Word as their own concern, who wanted privacy in their thinking, and who thus created the atmosphere in which heresy and error became possible and even inevitable in the community.” Karl Barth
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Have you thought about your responsibility to be a skillful and critical thinker in the congregation? …are you simply going with the flow?
- Does your church encourage not only community but individuality? …not only conformity to Biblical norms, but sensitivity to violation of those norms?
- Do you know the great Christian tradition well enough to know when it’s being ignored or perverted?
Abba, may we love you with our minds as well as our hearts.
For More: Church Dogmatics: A Selection … by Helmut Gollwitzer
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)