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Readings for Reflection: January 2015
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

Annual LEYM Query

Friends will have the opportunity to consider this year’s query from Lake Erie Yearly Meeting’s Ministry & Nurture Committee on Saturday, January 17 at 4:00 in the Fellowship Room (see announcement for more details). The query appears below as presented by LEYM’s Ministry & Nurture Committee, with an introductory quotation preceding and several relevant passages following.

Friends find their essential unity in their profound and exhilarating belief in the pervasive presence of God and in the continuing responsibility of each person and worshipping group to seek the leading of the Spirit in all things.
                                             ~ Faith & Practice of New England Yearly Meeting, 1986

The Query
How has our practice of expectant waiting in worship invited the Divine to guide our meeting’s actions? In what ways do our actions in the world as a meeting enrich and transform the spiritual life of the body?

Helpful Passages

Worshiping together strengthens the members of the worshiping community and deepens the act of worship itself. Such communal worship is like a living organism whose individual but interdependent members are essential to one another and to the life of the greater whole. It is like the luminous unity and individual fulfillment that arise when musicians, responding to the music before them, offer up their separate gifts in concert. …The gifts and participation of each member are important in maintaining and enriching the spiritual life of the meeting for worship.
                                        ~ Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Faith & Practice, 2002, p. 19

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. …27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.                                    ~ 1st Corinthians 12:12-13, 27

Our gracious Creator cares and provides for all his creatures. His tender mercies are over all his works; and, so far as his love influences our minds, so far we become interested in his workmanship and feel a desire to take hold of every opportunity to lessen the distresses of the afflicted and increase the happiness of the creation. Here we have a prospect of one common interest from which our own is inseparable, that to turn all the treasures we possess into the channel of universal love becomes the business of our lives.           ~ John Woolman, 1763

A true Friends’ Meeting for Worship drawing [together] individuals with varieties of temperament, talent, and background always managed to engender a climate of belonging, of community which is infectious and creative.
                                                                                     ~ Ranjit M Chetsingh, 1967

We are not sent into this world to walk it in solitude. We are born to love, as we are born to breathe and eat and drink. The babe is hardly separated from his mother's womb before he stretches out a tiny clasping hand, and from that time forth he will constantly stretch out to touch the world that lies about him and the folk that dwell therein. The purpose of our growth in life is to bring us into unity with the universe into which we are born, to make us aware that we are not lonely individual meteors hurtling blindly through an abysmal dark, but living parts of a living whole.
     ~ Kenneth Boulding, William Penn Lecture 1942, “The Practice of The Love of God”

There is that near you which will guide you. O wait for it and be sure you keep
to it.                                                                                 ~ Isaac Penington, 1678

True godliness does not turn men out of the world, but enables them better to live in it and excites their endeavors to mend it; not hide their candle under a bushel, but set it upon a table in a candlestick.                    ~ William Penn, 1668

We know ourselves as individuals but only because we live in community. Love, trust, fellowship, selflessness are all mediated to us through our interdependence. Just as we could not live physically without each other, we cannot live spiritually in isolation. We are individually free but also communally bound. We cannot act without affecting others and others cannot act without affecting us. We know ourselves as we are reflected in the faces, action, and attitudes of each other.                                                    ~ Janet Scott, 1980

Oppression in the extreme appears terrible: but oppression in more refined appearances remains to be oppression; and where the smallest degree of it is cherished it grows stronger and more extensive. To labour for a perfect redemption from this spirit of oppression is the great business of the whole family of Christ Jesus in this world.                                         ~ John Woolman, 1763

Seeking to heal the wounds of criminal actions, Friends are called to many different kinds of service in the criminal justice system. Prison visiting, victim support services, conflict resolution training for staff of correctional institutions and offenders, and work to abolish the penalty of death are typical of these services. Such service is undertaken in order to restore the victim, the offender, and the community to the greatest extent possible. The healing love, and the trust in divine leading that such disciplined service requires, can greatly assist the rebuilding of broken lives.
                   ~ Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Faith & Practice, p. 76: Living in the World

All Readings for Reflection
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