This week has featured hot, humid temperatures and some amazing sleep-disturbing night displays of lightning and rolling thunder. Certainly Meeting today took place in ongoing humidity and a lack of air movement despite having the door open in the main room. This meant that external noise was even more noticeable in terms of passing aircraft and the faint musical offerings from our evangelical friends over the road.
Sharing A Dream
A Harpenden Friend spoke of the different musical accompaniment was in the air this week and that perhaps some might say a more acceptable accompaniment though that depended on your taste. The Friend wondered if this was why early Friends did not have music in Meeting because they could not agree on a style acceptable to everyone.
They also reflected on whether the choice of grey clothing came from the same aesthetic and also how times have moved on in that Quakers were much more accepting of a whole spectrum of diversity and they then shared part of a piece written by David Boulton in the most recent edition of the Quaker Voices publication.
icon-quote-left I have a dream. I envision a society of Friends where committed Christians, universalists, Jews, Buddhists, theists, post-theists, non-theists, and religious humanists joyfully accept their theological and ideological differences, sharing their truths , listening to and respecting each other and finding heresy only in any form of dogmatic assertion. Such a society will not be held together by a common theology or even a common interpretation of Quaker tradition. These things matter but they are not the essentials. The ties that bind us together will be our Quaker values and the practices by which we express those values .icon-quote-right
All About Inclusivity
Later another Harpenden Friend stood to speak and said that they were struck by the omission of Muslims from the David Boulton extract read out earlier and that Muslims made up a greater number than some of those the others mentioned so they felt it a glaring oversight especially as the Islamic faith shared many traditions with other religions of the world and that they have known and continue to know much oppression. They said they felt it important for us all to hold out our collective hand to them and other religions as Quakerism, for them was all about inclusivity.
Inclusivity And Our Neighbours
A Luton Friend spoke to say that the previous ministry completely spoke their mind in terms of their relationship with Islam and the Islamic faith. They pointed out that one of the huge joys of living in Luton was the ease with which you could come into contact with those of Islamic faith. Their neighbours of a few doors down were Muslim and that they found that many of the Muslims they met were kindly, gentle, friendly and very open. That they showed deep care and compassion for others and for the world. They also felt that Islamophobia was a terrible curse and hoped it had not unintentionally crept into the list of philosophies and religions spoken of earlier. They also thanked the Friend for pointing this omission out. They said they felt it was so important that we had justice and equality in this way and that we recognised the huge gifts our Muslim friends could bring to us.
During bridging time another Friend shared something from Among Friends , a magazine by Europe & middle eastern section of the Friends World committee for consultation who held their annual meeting recently (the extract features on page 7 of this PDF version of the summer edition of Among Friends):
icon-quote-left At a time of escalating violence and suffering in many parts of the world and increasing tensions along the Ukrainian border two Friends, Mikhail Roshchin from Moscow Meeting and Roland Rand from Tallin Workshop Group in Estonia told us of their wish to travel under concern to Eastern Ukraine to meet and talk with individuals and organisations to hear their views of the situation and explore what is needed at this time. During a moving Meeting to consider this, the Annual Meeting tested their concern and from the prayerful gatheredness of the business meeting, agreed to support Friends to travel with the support of two or three Friends experienced in peace work. Funding for this can be channelled through the Eastern and Middle Eastern Section (EMES). icon-quote-right
Of Equal Concern…
A Luton Friend again spoke later that a lot of the world’s attention had been focussed on the tragedy of the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner over Eastern Ukraine and it was right that it should be so. They hoped that the tragedy in Israel and Palestine was not overshadowed by this as the loss of life was of equal number and concern.
After Meeting we shared Fairtrade dates made in the occupied territories of Palestine that had been purchased by Luton Meeting. As usual there was much chat while we had tea and coffee.
Next Week- Shared Lunch
Next week will be another shared lunch prefaced by an informal ‘What’s on your mind’ type discussion.