Ann Arbor Friends Meeting
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Readings for Reflection: February 2013
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

Friends as “Good Plumbers”
This passage by Roger Wilson appealed to me because I often pray that I might be a channel to carry love, healing, and hope to others. And I’ve wished that my cohorts would channel those qualities back to me. The thought that our channels might be cracked and broken wasn’t part of the scheme! But anyone who has lived in any kind of building knows that the plumbing can go disastrously wrong at the most inconvenient moments. Roger is exhorting us to be “good plumbers” and prevent the Living Water from running away into the sand. Perhaps we can all work toward a Spiritual Journey Plumber License in the coming year.   

                                                     Nancy Taylor, member of Ministry and Counsel

from Quaker Faith and Practice of Britain Yearly Meeting   23.08

Roger Wilson,   1976

“Two sins have my people committed;  they have forsaken me, a spring of living water, and they have hewn themselves cisterns, cracked cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). I know of no better description of the world we live in than that. We have forgotten that we need the life-giving water of the holy spirit if the material element of the world in which we live is not, sooner or later, to turn into dust and ashes; and we have developed social institutions which cannot hold or channel the life-giving water anyway …

As Christians we need to see ourselves as God’s plumbers, working on tanks and channels for the living water that can quicken the daily life of men, women, and children … Jesus taught us about patterns of living that make for wholeness as we and our neighbours care for one another and build one another up. And all the patterns that Jesus showed us of cisterns and channels of caring and service challenge the patterns of mammon that offer quicker and more showy results, but that end in the debris of a possessive society that allows the living water to run away into the sand. Good plumbers build to last; they don’t fall for fashions that rust and fade and crack.

Seventeenth-century Friends were good plumbers. In and out of season, in and out of jail, in and out of court, counting house, and farmstead, our Quaker forebears challenged the conventions of the day – in politics, in commerce, in the law, in the established church, in social etiquette, in education, in attitudes to war, poverty, and crime. In face of the sterile institutions of their day they found living answers about the ways in which men and women might go about their business of living together.

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