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

One of the primary responsibilities of the Committee on Ministry and Counsel is care of the meeting for worship. With this in mind the Committee occasionally offers passages of Friends’ vision on what happens there – how we listen faithfully for the Spirit and how we share. T his month’s selection comes from two basic sources for Ann Arbor Friends, our Meeting Handbook (available on the lobby table) and the Advices and Queries of Lake Erie Yearly Meeting (at leym.org, search for “Advices”).
                                                                                                           ~ Jeff Cooper

Meeting for Worship

Meetings for worship are the central experience of the Religious Society of Friends as a corporate body, and all of the life and testimonies of a Friends meeting spring out of this experience. Meeting for worship involves the gathering together of Friends in quiet anticipation for the purpose of waiting upon God. As the mind and the body become still, individuals are able to join in a communal attunement to the Inner Light. These public meetings are grounded in silence and without program or the mediation of an individual between the worshiper and God.

Sometimes the Spirit brings us – any of us – a message that seems clearly to speak to the condition of others gathered here; when we are convinced that such a message is within us, we may rise to give that message as “vocal ministry.” Such ministry may take many forms, such as prayer, praise, song, witnessing, or sharing a meaningful experience. Preplanned messages or meditations are usually out of place in meeting for worship, as are argumentative statements or critical responses to other messages. It is appropriate to leave time for silent worship between spoken messages. A deep, shared stillness in the meeting for worship may continue without spoken messages from the arrival of the first worshiper until meeting closes.

                                                       Handbook of the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting, p. 7

Prayer springs from a deep place in the heart. Vocal prayer, though it may be expressed in imperfect words, can draw those present into communion with God and with one another. What helps me find that inner place of prayer?

Do I attend worship clear of any predetermination to speak or not to speak, and expecting that worship will be a source of strength and guidance? Do I allow a sense of unworthiness or fear of not finding the right words turn me away from a true leading to speak? Am I apt to speak too often, too predictably, or too soon after someone else has spoken? Do I receive the spoken ministry of others in a tender and understanding spirit, recognizing that what may not be helpful to one listener may speak to the condition of another? Do I listen for the deep meaning in the spoken ministry of others?

                                           Lake Erie Yearly Meeting, Advices & Queries, nos. 7 & 8

All Readings for Reflection
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