Do you take part as often as you can in meetings for church affairs? Are you familiar enough with our church government to contribute to its disciplined processes? Do you consider difficult questions with an informed mind as well as a generous and loving spirit? Are you prepared to let your insights and personal wishes take their place alongside those of others or be set aside as the meeting seeks the right way forward? If you cannot attend, uphold the meeting prayerfully.
During bridging time we gave thoughts of holding an absent attender in the light as he was understandably absent from the meeting as he was at the side of his Mother who is terminally ill. We wish them love, strength and fortitude.
We moved on to PM (Preparative Meeting) where we discussed the recent AM Poverty In Britain Event, the current state of finances, the 2014 triennial report and the continuing use and development of our revamped website.
Discussion too on how best to green our meeting and meeting house in terms of saving energy and making users of the facilities aware of that too (common sense stuff really but we can all easily forget).
We vexed on how best we can reach out to the wider community and reminded ourselves to take time to be aware of things in the wider Luton community we can possibly contribute to as a group.
Plans to make some short audio and video were put in place which we’d like as many members and attenders to contribute to as possible.
We also set a provisional date for a social get together music evening choosing two favourite pieces of music each.
The date for the next PM is Sunday 5th January 2014
We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government, nor are we for this party nor against the other … but we are for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom, that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness, righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with God, and with one another, that these things may abound.
A blustery autumn morning with strong ‘1987-esque’ winds forecast for later in the day and into tomorrow (even poor Michael Fish has been dragged out of retirement to front warnings in the media of the possible weather battering coming our way. What a cultural icon he has become. Still he made it into the Olympic opening ceremony so he must be a (if not the) solid British cultural reference for impending bad weather. Correctly forecast or not).
The above passage on corporate responsibility was read out during meeting for worship. When the hour had come to and end notices were read and after bridging time tea and coffee and chat followed along with slices of nut roast available in return for a small donation to funds. Much talk of potential future food offerings between us. Our bee-keeping Friend mused the potential for mead offerings even.
It’s good to talk, share and care for one another.
An intermittently showery day interupted by brief sunny intervals was the backdop to our meeting for worship. The silence shared gave way to bridging time and tea. Cake made an appearance. Those of us on healthy eating may have temporarily indulged in the same of contributing small change for a good cause.
After meeting we discussed our feeling around possible changes and revisions to Quaker Faith and Practice. Changes are currently implemented only once per generation so it was interesting to hear views from long term and birthright Quakers rough to those that are recent attenders.
If you’d like to meet a friendly face for an informal one to one get together over tea or coffee then Carol or Colin are more than happy to meet up with you sometime and answer any questions you may have so you can decide whether you’d like to become more involved or not for yourself.
In which we welcomed a new attender for the second time and learned that one Friend would be moving out of Luton in January for both work and personal reasons. We were so pleased for them as a new chapter in their life journey was soon to begin but sad that we would soon lose a good Friend at meeting.
A reading from Quaker Faith & Practice (26.12) which the reader related to the silence of unprogrammed worship.
“So one approaches, by efforts which call for the deepest resources of one’s being, to the condition of true silence; not just of sitting still, not just of not speaking, but of a wide awake, fully aware non-thinking. It is in this condition, found and held for a brief instant only, that I have experienced the existence of something other than ‘myself’. The thinking me has vanished, and with it vanishes the sense of separation, of unique identity. One is not left naked and defenceless, as one is, for example, by the operations of the mind in self-analysis. One becomes instead aware, one is conscious of being a participant in the whole of existence, not limited to the body or the moment… It is in this condition that one understands the nature of the divine power, its essential identity with love, in the widest sense of that much misused word.”
Our local Quaker study group took the opportunity to watch a video aimed at new and potentially new Quakers and made in co-operation with Yorkshire Quakers which prompted much discussion about what each of us gets from silent worship and how different in tone many regional meetings can be (because we're all different). This also prompted much discussion on being comfortable sharing your own point of view, how comfortable or uncomfortable some members are with 'God language', being accepting of others, welcoming enquirers, the issue of true diversity and speaking and ministry within the meeting vs speaking during afterword (or bridging time as it's called at our local meeting).
“We do not own the world, and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will. Show a loving consideration for all creatures, and seek to maintain the beauty and variety of the world. Work to ensure that our increasing power over nature is used responsibly, with reverence for life. Rejoice in the splendour of God’s continuing creation.”
This passage was read out at meeting today. A Friend appreciated greatly the reading and wondered if we could have more plants within the meeting house. They also thought it was always good to share access to nature.
Another Friend commented on the gentle light changes from nature outside the window during silent worship and how the insects caught the autumn sun.
Tea and Coffee was shared with much eager conversation. A cake was shared and used to accept ‘what you can afford’ payments towards a donation we made to help Harpenden Meeting House refurbishment. We discussed arrangements for those of us attending next week’s poverty in Britain event at Watford Meeting House.