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

Queries and Quotations on Discernment

Every year the Ministry & Nurture Committee of Lake Erie Yearly Meeting presents queries for monthly meetings to consider. This year the topic is discernment. The queries are accompanied by related quotations. Friends will have the opportunity to respond to these queries the evening of Friday, December 15, at the Meetinghouse. Come at 6:30 to share fellowship and a supper in the Fireplace Room. Pizza will be provided; Friends are asked to bring a salad, dessert, or beverage, and to let Kri Burkander know what they plan to bring (487-1323 or kri_noel@yahoo.com).

Lake Erie Yearly Meeting
2006 Annual Queries: On Discernment

1. What do I understand “divine guidance” and “discernment” to mean?

2. How do I experience divine guidance and discernment in my life and in our life as a Meeting?

3. What are we, as Friends, being called to do or to be in the world at this time?

The following advices and quotations are offered to the Monthly Meetings to assist with their reflection on the queries. Please use them, as led, through individual reflection and worship sharing.

1. As Friends we commit ourselves to a way of worship which allows God to teach and transform us. We have found corporately that the Spirit, if rightly followed, will lead us into truth, unity and love: all our testimonies grow from this leading.
– Britain Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice (BYM), 1.01

2. Friends make group decisions in the faith that the divine Spirit, which is accessible to all persons, is one, and that therefore, if Friends will wait upon and heed the light of Truth within, we can find unity in what we do.
– Pacific Yearly Meeting (PYM) Faith and Practice, p. 32

3. Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life.  – BYM, 1.02

4. Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.  – George Fox, 1656, in BYM 1.02

5. Please be patient, those of you who have found a rock to stand on, with those of us who haven’t and with those of us who are not even looking for one. We live on the wave’s edge, where sea, sand and sky are all mixed up together: we are tossed head over heels in the surf, catching only occasional glimpses of any fixed horizon. Some of us stay there from choice because it is exciting and it feels like the right place to be.   – Philip Rack, 1979, in BYM 20.06

6. Quakers took a stand against slavery early in American history partly because one man, John Woolman, was willing to hold the tension between reality and possibility. But it is important to note that the entire Quaker community was also willing to hold that tension until they were opened to a more integral way of being in the world. They refused to succumb to the impulse to resolve the tension prematurely, either by throwing Woolman out or by voting to allow the slavery-approving majority to have its way. Instead, they let the tension between reality and possibility break their collective heart open to justice, truth, and love.
– Parker Palmer in A Hidden Wholeness, p. 181

7. Membership is, or ought to be, about transformation. The transformation of individuals who have experienced the divine spirit at work in their lives. The transformation of a community which has sensed, and tries to live out, its particular role in bringing about the transformation of the world which can be seen as God’s purpose.   – Helen Rowlands, 1996, in Pendle Hill Pamphlet, Members One of Another, p. 18.

8. I wish I might emphasize how a life becomes simplified when dominated by faithfulness to a few concerns. Too many of us have too many irons in the fire. We get distracted by the intellectual claim to our interest in a thousand and one good things…. we learn to say No as well as Yes by attending to the guidance of inner responsibility.  – Thomas R. Kelly, 1941

9. Does anything make us distinctively Quaker? I say yes. Wherever we are seeking God’s will rather than human wisdom, especially when conflict might arise, we are being faithful Quakers. … Wherever there is no division between our words and our actions, we are being faithful.   – Val Ferguson, 1991, in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PhYM) Faith & Practice, p. 95

10. …the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.   – Deuteronomy 30:14 (RSV)

11. The first gleam of light, “the first cold light of morning” which gave promise of day with its noontide glories, dawned on me one day at meeting, when I had been meditating on my state in great depression. I seemed to hear the words articulated in my spirit, “Live up to the light thou hast, and more will be granted thee.”   – Caroline Fox, 1841, in PhYM p. 131

12. Membership is costly…. It is not just about belonging, feeling accepted, feeling at home (although these may be the things we talk about most often.) It has also to do with being stretched, being challenged, being discomforted…. We can never be entirely sure of where the venture will lead us…[but] the one thing we can be sure of is that the process, taken seriously, will call us to change.
– Helen Rowlands, 1996, in Members One of Another, p. 28.

13. Decision is a risk rooted in the courage of being free.   – Paul Tillich

14. Lo, I am with you always means when you look for God,
God is in the look of your eyes,
In the thought of looking,
nearer to you than your self,
or things that have happened to you.
– Rumi, 13th C Sufi master, in “Be Melting Snow”
(trans. by Coleman Barks)

15. Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
- Prayer of St. Francis

All Readings for Reflection
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