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Readings for Reflection: January 2014
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
    the Light.
~ 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.


All Readings for Reflection
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