from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel
Discernment about When to Speak in Meeting for Worship
Reflections from worship sharing sessions held in October 2013 by the Committee on Ministry and Counsel: Nine small sessions were held, each led by a member of Ministry and Counsel. We wish to share some of the comments and reflections that arose during those sessions, hoping to stimulate personal reflections for each reader.
~ I experience silence as communion. I am deeply fed by silence; it is ministry too.
~ What’s important is to magnify love; we come to Meeting to feed ourselves.
~ When an idea arises again and again, I feel I should speak in Meeting.
~ Messages are an offering – and an asking.
~ “Speak only when you cannot not speak” may be setting the bar too high for
some people. It’s a hard balance between speaking from your heart and
having a set of rules to follow.
~ Negative, judgmental thoughts towards others’ ministry can lead to overly
harsh judgment and criticism of one’s own leadings.
~ One Friend spoke of being critical and discounting of one’s leading, and felt a
need to make a complete outline in one’s head before rising to speak.
Speaking extemporaneously might be a gift of the spirit.
~ How can we work with our own irritation with others’ ministry that does not
speak to our condition or seems not to be “spirit led”? Maybe sometimes we
could check in with ourselves to try and discover what needs of ours are not
being met by someone else’s ministry. After giving ourselves some empathy,
we could try to understand the needs of the person speaking and hold them in
~ Ministry sometimes comes from unexpected sources, from people whom one
has discounted or been critical of. We can suddenly be open to listen and
receive others’ ministry.
~ The urge to speak has been different at different stages of my life. When I was
younger, I sought out Meetings that were small and quiet. Lots of silence was
very important. When I first came to AAFM, I was somewhat disturbed by the
messages. That’s changed for at least three reasons: there is now less
speaking during worship; I’m older and it’s easier to become internally quiet;
and I’m more able to listen in a way that hears beyond the surface of a
message to the love that is meant underneath.
~ One Friend spoke about how important it was to have a “mentor” when she
first came to Quakerism. She suggested that each new person might have
or be assigned a mentor to help them learn what’s going on.
~ Is the message I wish to share coming from my heart? Or my head?
~ Meeting begins for me when I leave home to come to Meeting.
~ We expressed an appreciation for being in a Meeting that has rich vocal
ministry, while also acknowledging that silent meetings can be very moving.