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It's Not So Bad ... We're Used to Standing in the Snow

Posted on Wednesday, September 13, 2006 at 09:00PM by Registered CommenterMarshall Massey in | CommentsPost a Comment

Many are the reasons why corvids, and other folks, are drawn to Quaker meetings. Peering down from my branch to watch people arriving through the meetinghouse door, I see:

Some folks drawn by a hunger for convincement, which I touched on in my previous posting: a hunger for the experience of facing the Voice in one’s own conscience squarely, and hearing what it has to say; of feeling oneself convicted by that Voice of the things one has done wrong — and yielding (at last) to that Voice’s pleadings, and being thereby transformed.

But others drawn simply because they find the Quaker world congenial, find that their own pre-existing tastes and opinions are shared and validated by one another, enjoy the hour of silence and the free Sunday morning child care, and look forward to their conversations over potluck.

And then, some drawn because they like some particular thing that Friends are doing — usually our peace witness, but sometimes something else.

And some drawn because they need the chance to unburden themselves of ministry, and because Friends willingly lend themselves as an audience for the occasion.

(For a long time, the reason why I myself came every week, and sometimes twice a week, to meeting was None of the Above — but I’ll go into that in a later posting.)

To some extent, every Friends meeting needs people of each of these four sorts. It needs the ones drawn to the community and the silence because they are the ones who will wind up with the greatest commitment to caring for the community and keeping it welcoming. It needs the ones drawn to the causes because they’re the ones who will have the greatest commitment to keeping those causes alive. It needs the called ministers because they’re the ones who will keep the preaching happening. It needs the ones who are convinced in the old-fashioned sense, because they’re the ones who will watch and guard the meeting’s integrity.

There is need for them to be miscible, like congenial metals.

Just as the Gospel itself is a multidimensional thing, so must the life of the church be multidimensional. One-dimensional existence is no life at all!

But every Friends meeting still needs an overwhelming preponderance of its members to be convinced in the traditional sense of the term. And if they’re not, that is unfinished business that somehow needs attending to.

For unless folks are convinced, they will not be fully ready to reject what is wrong in themselves.

And unless they are full ready to reject what is wrong in themselves, they will not be fully ready to become what God has always called His flock to be: a community of passers-by.

God wants us to be passers-by who are ready, at the slightest prompting, to drop everything and take wing out of Egypt — to leave the place or the situation where wrongdoing has gone too far — or, conversely, to come down off the safe perch of the status quo, put everything at risk, and look the enthroned powers straight in their beady eyes.

Most magpies are unready to do that. That is why we magpies do not migrate.


Jesus said: “Be passers-by.”

The Gospel of Thomas (ca. 55 - 140 A.D.), saying 42

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