A mostly silent Meeting until a Friend spoke of prayer…
They said that over that past few weeks they had been thinking about the power of prayer. They said it was either very full on or it would appear that we get no answer.
They told of when their daughter was nineteen, she announced she was to have a baby. At the time the daughter lived in a one bedroom flat with her partner. They said that they felt the property was totally unsuitable.
Our Friend told how they had prayed on the situation. Within month the house had burned down and the daughter was placed in temporary accommodation when she was but a month off giving birth. Our Friend questioned if this was the answer to their prayers or was this just something that happened.
Our Friend then told of the birth of the child and soon after their daughter was offered a council flat in a very nice area that was a protected place with security. Their daughter remained there for eight years. And so this outcome became seen as a very positive answer to prayer.
They then spoke of how they were reading a magazine only last night and in it was an article called ‘Brothel sues church’.The article told of an expanding brothel in America.The nearby church decided to prayer morning, noon and night (literally) for divine intervention. The brothel’s expansion work was completed but within a week the property was struck by lightening and burned to the ground.
The article said that the brothel moved to sue the Church for their prayer and divine intervention. In court the judge said it was a very interesting case where the owner of a brothel believes in divine intervention but the church and congregation denied all knowledge of it.
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More about the outdoor Meeting for worship team later…
A very autumnal day brought winds, rolling rey skies and showers though another mini heatwave (heatwave by Brit standards that is) is due in the week ahead.
Meeting was well attended and we welcomed our two Friends from Milton Keynes who also contributed a short harmonica piece during Meeting.
Another friend read Quaker Faith & Practice 29.01
How can we walk with a smile into the dark? We must learn to put our trust in God and the leadings of the Spirit. How many of us are truly led by the Spirit throughout our daily lives? I have turned to God when I have had a difficult decision to make or when I have sought strength to endure the pain in dark times. But I am only slowly learning to dwell in the place where leadings come from. That is a place of love and joy and peace, even in the midst of pain. The more I dwell in that place, the easier it is to smile, because I am no longer afraid.
If we dwell in the presence of God, we shall be led by the spirit. We do well to remember that being led by the spirit depends not so much upon God, who is always there to lead us, as upon our willingness to be led. We need to be willing to be led into the dark as well as through green pastures and by still waters. We do not need to be afraid of the dark, because God is there. The future of this earth need not be in the hands of the world’s ‘leaders’. The world is in God’s hands if we are led by God. Let us be led by the Spirit. Let us walk with a smile into the dark.
Gordon Matthews, 1987
After Meeting we shared drinks and biscuits.
It’s here that we rally must express our thanks and appreciation to our Milton Keynes Friends who join us when they can. They have magically added music and more to our small Meeting and of their own accord have formed the so-called ‘Outdoor Meeting for Worship’ where they pick up any litter around the Meeting House. It’s hard not to smile and appreciate their uniqueness and very welcome contribution to the life of the Meeting.
A summer’s day. Doors open at Meeting including an open door to the wild meadow area out the back. the white noise of wind through the trees, distant voices and sounds of the urban town.
We were well attended today. Welcome faces.
A Friend read from the end of the introduction Quaker Faith & Practice. They said this passage looked at the whole of QF&P really and that they felt it placed an emphasis on the richness of Quaker heritage as well as elsewhere in other traditions and other ways of understanding, It also emphasised that we need to rediscover the truth in every generation and that there is perhaps no final truth. That we are all seekers.
“We are seekers but we are also the holders of a precious heritage of discoveries. We, like every generation, must find the Light and Life again for ourselves. Only what we have valued and truly made our own, not by assertion but by lives of faithful commitment, can we hand on to the future. Even then, we must humbly acknowledge that our vision of the truth will, again and again, be amended.
In the Religious Society of Friends we commit ourselves not to words but to a way”.
Later during Meeting our Milton Keynes Friend contributed a short musical offering introduced as a “Greeting from Bedford Hospital Quakers”.
After Meeting we had a wonderful shared lunch with as much food sourced ethically, locally and conscientiously.
We also provided items for donation to LAMP a local charity helping young homeless people.
Meeting took plave in a not overly warm summer morning. Occaisionally the reshness of oncoming autumn air could perhaps be felt. Butterflies weved aroundthe wild grass and flowers in the area that has been left to go wild out the back of the meeting house.
We sat in our usual circle for Meeting.
A while into sitting a Friend spoke, saying that it was difficult looking out at the graveyard and not remember that 100 years ago many young men died. Walking around the graveyard they could see many young men who had died at the battle of the Somme in 1916. They said that one of the unique features or consequences of such horror was that men who had previously refused to serve in combat were allowed to form ambulance services in battle at the time.
They then read a passage by a Quaker who served at the time:
“There is hardly a moment when my thoughts are not with the men in France, eager to help the wounded by immediate human touch with their sufferings. This I was privileged to do during nineteen months spent at the Front with the Friends Ambulance Unit from October 1914 to May 1916, when it was still possible to give voluntary service. At times the impulse to return to this work becomes almost irresistible. May God steady me, and keep me faithful to a call I have heard above the roar of the guns. By the feverish activity of my hands, I might help to save a fraction of the present human wreckage. That would be for me no sacrifice. It costs far more to spend mind and spirit, if need be, in the silence of a prison cell, in passionate witness for the great truths of Peace. That is the call I hear. I believe that only spiritual influence will avail to free the world at last from war, to free the soldiers’ little ones and confused struggling humanity itself from all that men and women are suffering now. I honour those who, in loyalty to conscience, have gone out to fight. In a crisis like the present it would be unbecoming to elaborate the reasons which have led me to a course so different. Today a man must act. I believe, with the strength of my whole being, that standing here I am enlisted in active service as a soldier of Jesus Christ, who bids every man be true to the sense of duty that is laid upon his soul.”
Quaker Faith & Practice 24.13 Corder Catchpool (1883–1952)