MEETING FOR WORSHIP
Saturday, June 20, 2020, 3:30 p.m. & Tuesday, June 23, 2020, 11:30 a.m. (via Zoom).
This set of ‘Reading & Discussion’ examines “what is so important about meeting for worship”. Patricia Barber was quoted under the heading “Experiences of Worship and the ‘Gathered Meeting’ 2012”:
“My husband asked me once why, if Quakers are so concerned about the environment, we don’t just all stay home and sit quietly in worship by ourselves. What is so important about meeting for worship?
As we gather, we become the receptacles and channels of the Spirit of God. God’s Spirit flows over and among us, picking up what is in our hearts. Each person present is important, a part of the spiritual community in the room. George Fox said, “Christ has come to teach His people Himself.” Christ’s teaching comes through many forms – in silence, in vocal ministry, in eldering – and each person needs to find how he or she is led.
When I first began to speak during meeting for worship, I just felt compelled to stand and share. I did not realize that I was experiencing a leading from God. The simple feeling that it was important to share what I was thinking bore the hallmarks of an immature seeker. It took me a while to realize what it is to give vocal ministry. I realized that if I was to stand to speak, I was doing something special, that I was to articulate a part of God’s Spirit that was flowing through the meeting.
I then realized that I had to sort out what was me and what was of the Spirit. Ego has a loud, insistent voice and wants to speak. It is a struggle to empty oneself of ego, which supports you to stand up and speak but which can lead you so far astray. There was no one present in my meeting to elder me, but only a lot of pleasant, well-meaning people.
I remember a number of mistakes I made in speaking from what was important to me rather than from the immediate moving of God’s Spirit. Once I stood up and shared about the difficulties I was experiencing in preparing my income tax report. Too late I realized that God has not given me those words to speak. Later I began to memorize poetry, but I had no audience with which to share the poems that meant a lot to me. Although some people enjoyed the poetry that I spoke in meeting for worship, I came to realize that the motivation for reciting those poems was coming from me, not from God.
God led me to see that what God would have me share were the fruits of faithfulness, watchfulness, loving conduct with other people, and listening to the Spirit within me. I was becoming more mature in ministry. As I was speaking during worship rather frequently, someone in my meeting suggested that I be recorded as a minister. I was appalled, but for all the wrong reasons. I feared it would place too much pressure on me to speak at a time when I was still struggling to discern which ministry was Spirit-led and which was not. I realize now that that fear in itself was ego-driven. There was no one to elder me, no one to remind me that the gifts we have for vocal ministry and for eldering are for the service of the meeting and are not our own to use or withhold as we please. God uses the tools that we have, but we are to sharpen them and keep them ready for His service.
I don’t speak during worship as often now. I have learned that I need to lead a life of intentionality and deep seriousness, knowing that I am imperfect and will still make mistakes. I spend a lot of time during meeting for worship trying to step into that stream of God’s Spirit as it flows around me and all of us. If something washes up on the banks near me, I sit with it and ask God, “Is this for me or is it for me to share aloud with everyone here?” If I speak too soon, I may prevent someone else from speaking a true message. Breaking the silence is serious business. One can be personal, but speaking as if in therapy is not fine, nor is articulation of one’s own enthusiasm or political rage. Those topics and others arising from oneself are better left to discussion on other occasions.”
Zoom connection information for this event is as follows: Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/92398341668 (Meeting ID: 994 4553 2926).
Please see the Meeting’s Reading and Discussion page for more information about the context, practice, and goals of ‘Reading and Discussion’.
Please see the Meeting’s Changes page for a comprehensive list of changes to worship, events, and Zoom connection information.