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INSPIRATION: Meeting for Worship

(part 1)

(The information on this page does not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of all Friends of Humboldt Friends Meeting.  All resources are taken from Quaker). Volumes have been written about the unique form of Quaker Worship. This is the first group of insprations in words, video, music, and art collected on the topic for this project. The selection is random -- restricted to the works I have on hand and ones that I believe speak to the heart of the topic.   One of the unique aspects of Quaker Worship is its corporate nature.   Lloyd  Lee Wilson writes:   "Corporate worship is not merely individual worship or meditation at the same place and time as others are worshiping or meditating, but a truly corporate experience where we enter into a communion with other worshipping souls that enables all of us to enter into the divine presence more fully . . . "  Additional pages on Meeting for Worship and subtopics including the "What to do with Thy Wandering Thoughts" and "Vocal Ministry" will follow this collection of Inspirations.   Others are welcome to join this project.   this project.  Abbreviations  are a abbreviations of the sources title.  mtk  

Mid Thames Area Meeting  by Quaker artist John Perkin 2012.   https://midthamesquakers.org.uk/meetings/meeting-for-worship-painted-by-quaker-john-perkin/

Biblical and Classical Writing

 

Where  two or three come together in my name, there am I with them:  Matthew 8:20

 

Be Still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

 

Stand still in the Light." George Fox Ep.  10,  1652.

 

All Friends mind that which is Eternal which gathers your Hearts together up to the Lord and lets you see that ye are written in one another's Heart. George Fox. Ep. 24, 1653. 

 

 

 

MUSIC: "All People That on Earth Do Dwell". from Worship in Song:  A Friends Hymnal  #3.    Texts and

simple score.    https://hymnary.org/hymn/WinS1996/3#media. (This may not be a Quaker hymn per se but one that Quakers enjoy.)  

"Mind That Which is Eternal". by Paulette Meyer https://paulettemeier.bandcamp.com/track/mind-that-which-is-eternal

from quotation by George Fox "All Friends mind that which is Eternal which gathers your Hearts together up to the Lord and lets you see that ye are written in one another's Heart. George Fox. Ep. 24,"

Selected Videos on Meeting for Worship

For other videos on Quaker topics see Quaker Speak.  

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Poetry 

"Draw Breath"

a poem by Geoffrey Weeden, (a member of Kingston upon Thames Meeting, Great Britain)

 

Breathe in the quiet purpose of this place;

Through outward stillness, seek a calm within.

Here we can find forgiveness and forgive;

Here feel the healing miracle begin.

Breathe out the busy world, the teeming mind,

The follies, fears and failures of the week;

Breathe out contention, pettiness and pride,

And wait in trust for that of God to speak.

Breathe in communion, friend with quiet friend,

Each drawing closer in this timeless hour;

As all our different needs and gifts are drawn

To the one source of comfort, love and power.

Breathe out at last, to God, the heart's full thanks

That we have seen this vision, known this grace;

Renewed through love, let us that love extend

Through all our daily life beyond this place.

https://www.facebook.com/pei.quakers/posts/1846199142167428/?paipv=0&eav=Afb179Y6MvYJ7pZ8OjW-Y7r82Te8qInlFiTP_izGV9s9iJCAW_coPbvWLDcNsypKS70&_rdr

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Selected Quaker Writing on Meeting for Worship

KELLY: What is the ground and foundation of the gathered meeting? In the last analysis, it is, I am convinced, the Real Presence of God . . . Worship, and preparation for worship, begin before one has left one's home. They begin when one wakes up Sunday morning, before one has gotten out of bed. Worship in a meetinghouse with one's friends should be only a special period of a life of worship that underlies all one's daily affairs. "The Gathered Meeting". Thomas R. Kelly 1940

PacYM: Our corporate search for God's word is the heart of the Quaker Meeting for Worship. We believe that God, the Light, the Truth, is part of our being. We say, "there is that of God in everyone." Truth is continually revealed to us, often through a gathered mystical experience. We learn to recognize the truth by experience. (1). Faith and Practice PacYM

WILSON: Calling our practice waiting worship rather than silent worship or unprogrammed worship emphasizes the nature of the divine-human relationship central to Conservative Friends' understanding of worship; but other than this clue of nomenclature and a few quotations . . . there is little written to instruct newcomers in the Conservative understanding and expression of worship". QVGO (31) Waiting worship is an act of corporate listening to God. . . As practiced by Conservative Friends, worship is a simple opening of one's entire self to God in the midst of the faith community, acknowledging the awesome and wonderful reality of who one is and who God is; it is giving one's entire self to God and waiting to receive whatever God may offer. QVGO (32) A commonly evoked metaphor for meeting for worship is that of many individual candles brought together to give a stronger light, but this overemphasizes what we bring to worship as individuals and slights the action of the Holy Spirit . . . A more appropriate image is that each worshiper brings that amount of silence which (s)he has been able to nurture through daily practices and disciplines , and together the assembly creates a large silence in which the eternally present divine Word may be more clearly heard. QVGO (35) Corporate worship is not merely individual worship or meditation at the same place and time as others are worshiping or meditating, but a truly corporate experience where we enter into a communion with other worshipping souls that enables all of us to enter into the divine presence more fully, and hear the divine Word more clearly, than we could alone. . . The practice of corporate waiting worship, therefore, requires individual preparation on the part of each worshiper. QVGO (36) Quaker Vision of Gospel Order by Lloyd Lee Wilson

PhlYM: Meeting for worship is the primary setting for the fundamental experience of the Divine Presence. [Early Friends] understood that the Light Within could be experienced without the help of trained clergy and liturgy by all who seek it. God spoke to them and through them in the silence. Any -- and all - of them were ministers of the Word of God, spoken and unspoken." (website). https://www.pym.org/faith-and-practice/experience-and-faith/meeting-worship/

BRINTON: Worship, and preparation for worship, begin before one has left one's home. They begin when one wakes up Sunday morning, before one has gotten out of bed. Worship in a meetinghouse with one's friends should be only a special period of a life of worship that underlies all one's daily affairs. Friends for 300 Years by Howard Brinton. There is an updated version: Friends for 350 Years.

PENN: Worship, and preparation for worship, begin before one has left one's home. They begin when one wakes up Sunday morning, before one has gotten out of bed. Worship in a meetinghouse with one's friends should be only a special period of a life of worship that underlies all one's daily affairs. In the vast sum of Quaker literature there is very little which can be used as a guide in silent worship . . .The true Guide is the Spirit which, like the wind, bloweth where it listeth. quoted in Friends for 300 Year. (72).

JOHNSON: The traditional Quaker path pursues solely the contemplative practice, disposing of all devised cultural practices and rituals, to attain a pure attentiveness to God. SIS (2) The Quaker method and path. both in personal prayer and in communal worship, is to learn to pay attention to the Inward Light and to follow the Light. SIS (3) First Friends left no specific manual though many advices related to prayer are in their writing. One specific advice, upon noticing thoughts, is to look at the Light that illuminates them. Lift the inner gaze towards the Light and its joy, not to the intrusive thoughts. The next advice is to 'mind the Light', that is to pay attention to it and the final advice is to 'love the light' welcoming its message since it is illuminating a matter to make us purer in heart. SIS ( 3) Surrendering into the Silence by David Johnson

BILL: The only thing I can compare it [Silent Worship] to is the Catholic belief that in the celebration of Mass, Christ is really present through Holy Communion to the assembly gathered in his name. Silence works the same way for Quakers. Friends believe that Christ is actually present -- except we have no host to elevate or priest to preside. Rather we believe that when our hearts, minds and souls are still, and we wait expectantly in holy silence, the presence of Christ comes among us. HS (3) Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality. (Chapter 5 is devoted to Communal Silence).

SNELL: As [silent meeting] goes on, we may all be lifted together above our ordinary lives into a wonderful sense of unity and peace. . .Our small separate lives, that before seemed like small boats, drifting along sluggishly or carried into the backwater of wrongdoing and isolated there, are swept into the main current of God's purpose. We know that we have a place in God's purpose. Spoken by Beatrice Saxton Snell quoted in "A Joint and Visible Fellowship" Pendle Hill Pamphlet # 140.

LONDON YEARLY MEETING: With diligence meet together, and with diligence wait to feel the Lord God to arise, to scatter and expel all that which is the cause of leanness and barrenness upon any soul; for it is the Lord must do it, and he will be waited upon in sincerity and fervency of spirit; (236). quote by Stephen Crisp, 1663 The first that enters into the place of your meeting . . . turn in thy mind to the light, and wait upon God singly, as if none were present but the Lord; and here thou art strong. Then the next that comes in, let them in simplicity of heart sit down and turn in to the same light, and wait in the spirit; and so all the rest coming in, in the fear of the Lord, sit down in pure stillness and silence of all flesh , and wait in the light . . . (262) quote by Alexander Parker Quotes from Christian Faith and Practice London Yearly Meeting

GORMAN: . . our intention must be that it [corporate worship] should be a corporate exercise. -- a lending of our minds to one another. AFQW (95) The silence of religious experience is never a silence in which the soul shuts itself up in isolation. It is a silence which opens out on the infinite in a true community of minds and hearts, in a real unit founded on respect for diversity . . a soul gathered in silent worship is never alone with God. It is always in communion with the soul of all other worshippers: its silence plunges it into that inward light which lightens everyman; by Pierre Lacout AFQW (96) quoted in The Amazing Fact of Quaker Worship by George Gorman. The entire text is devoted to Quaker Worship

DURHAM: When a Meeting for Worship comes to an end, we must hope that those who have attended it have found meaning. As they leave the meeting house, that meaning can turn to purpose. And so, with meaning and purpose in their lives, Quakers find themselves not just willing, not just able, but impelled to work for change in the world. For them, through the Meeting for Worship, meaning has become purpose and purpose has become meaning. . . . SQ (40). The Spirit of the Quakers by Geoffrey Durham An entire chapter is devoted to Quaker Meeting for Worship.

The material on this page was gathered from Quaker sources by Margaret Thomas Kelso, a member of Humboldt Friends Meeting.   It does not necessarily represent the views of the Meeting.  

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