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Readings for Reflection: February 2006
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

This month’s reading comes from Preparatory Materials booklet about Quakerism for the World Gathering of Young Friends at Lancaster, August 2005, p. 13:

First Time in Meeting for Worship

In 1890 Caroline Stephen remembered her first time in meeting for worship:

On one never-to-be-forgotten Sunday morning, I found myself one of a small company of silent worshippers who were content to sit down together without words, that each one might feel after and draw near to the Divine Presence, unhindered at least, if not helped, by any human utterance.

Utterance I know was free, should the words be given; and, before the meeting was over, a sentence or two were uttered in great simplicity by an old and apparently untaught man, rising in his place amongst the rest of us.  I did not pay much attention to the words he spoke, and I have no recollection of their purport.  My whole soul was filled with the unutterable peace of the undisturbed opportunity for communion with God, with the sense that at last I had found a place where I might, without the faintest suspicion of insincerity, join with others in simply seeking His presence.

To sit down in silence could at the least pledge me to nothing; it might open to me (as it did that morning) the very gate of heaven. And, since that day, now more than seventeen years ago, Friends' meetings have indeed been to me the greatest of outward helps to a fuller and fuller entrance into the spirit from which they have sprung; the place of the most soul-subduing, faith-restoring, strengthening, and peaceful communion, in feeding upon the bread of life, that I have ever known.

"Copyleft 2005 World Gathering of Young Friends Charitable Committee – you are free to copy any part of this book for non-profit purposes so long as you include this copyleft notice and attribute authors in any extract quoted."

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