The Quaker Journal of George Amoss Jr.
New Entries, beginning in December, 2007

© 2007, 2008, 2009, George Amoss Jr.


CONTENTS

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  1. 12/23/07: A Christmas Message
  2. 12/30/07: A New Year Message
  3. 01/06/08: The Heart of Worship
  4. 02/24/08: To Be "Well-pleasing"
  5. 04/06/08: The Heart of Quakerism
  6. 05/04/08: A Message on Sharing
  7. 08/10/08: The Spiritual Ear
  8. 08/17/08: The Truth of the New Testament
  9. 11/09/08: Giving Birth to Christ: Spiritual Worship
  10. 03/01/09: "For the Scripture Kills"
  11. 03/29/09: "No Spiritual Life to Speak Of"
  12. 06/14/09: Unity in Worship

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December 23, 2007 -- A Christmas Message

The holiday time leads me to think about the myth -- I mean that word in the most positive way -- of Jesus the Logos, and what it means to me as a Quaker. In terms borrowed from John D. Caputo,  whose work I recently discovered, I spoke of some aspects of those reflections during meetings for worship at Homewood Meeting  and Little Falls Meeting  in December of 2007. The following developed from those messages.

* * *

I see the Logos, the divine-human meaning of the world, as an infant; powerless; defenseless; marginalized because human beings don't want to acknowledge that ultimately we're all powerless; pushed off among farm animals as defenseless as he is, as if he is less than human because he has no power.

I see the Logos as the still marginalized man Jesus, having no place to lay his head, a wandering preacher of a God whose perfection, which Jesus bids us emulate, is seen in his caring for the good and evil alike; a God whose kingdom, present but hidden and always under attack by the powerful, is likened to a tiny, fragile seed that may or may not grow into a shrub (notwithstanding writers' attempts to make it a tree), a mustard plant, which, in addition to producing more tiny seeds, gives shelter to other creatures as defenseless as itself, the birds of the air; a God who blesses the poor, the meek, the grieving, the suffering, the peacemakers -- those whose only defense is defenselessness.

I see the Logos as anointed servant-lord and teacher, whose disciples, according to the earliest gospel, don't understand his nature -- and when they get glimpses of the truth, deny it or don't know what to do. When he is crushed by the inhuman human powers of the world, by religion and politics, they remain in denial: they look for his coming "in power" from the skies, and they're still looking. But others, like the first Quakers, realize that he is already come in the power of powerlessness and lives as a tiny, trampled seed in our hearts.

There and in the defenseless other, because they are the same, the Logos calls to us. The I, the self, has its prerogatives, but the powerless Logos calls powerfully to us to lay them down in order to open ourselves to the other. Like those first Friends, we discern that call in silence, we understand its beauty and its cost, we tremble and quake, we struggle with the call to sacrificial love. Who would want, who has the courage, to be powerless, defenseless, marginalized, relegated to the subhuman, and perhaps ultimately crushed, as the Logos was and is, as the blessed children are, by the powers of self, society, religion, government? But we hear the call, we feel the divine human meaning of the world, we accept the blessing and the anointing; we are irrevocably changed. We can't turn back. In us the seed is growing; giving us a new heart; leading us into the risky, beautiful reality of compassion and peace; freeing us of the desire to subject the other; giving us the courage to suffer for love's sake; shaping us into the harmless, defenseless, sheltering Logos.

I see the Logos, the meaning of the world, the Life and Power of powerlessness, as flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone, heart of our heart.


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December 30, 2007 -- A New Year Message

The following is based on the message I gave during worship today at Little Falls.

* * *

This morning, when a Friend expressed her wishes for the New Year, including that human beings live in peace, and that all be healthy and happy, I was reminded of what some postmodern philosophers have spoken of, approvingly, as a "commitment to the impossible." That commitment goes back, in our tradition, to the prophetic movement that began with Isaiah and reached an apex, for Christians, in the ministry of Jesus, who called his hearers to live the mercy, justice, healing, and peace of the Kingdom of God. I've found that same commitment in other faiths; for example, in the Buddhist bodhisattva who vows the impossible every day: "Sentient beings are numberless, yet I vow to rescue them all." (And that in the context of Buddhist "self-power," which holds that it is not possible for one person to save another.) We're not few, and we're not alone.

And we're not naive dreamers. At first look, a commitment to the impossible can be a discouraging thing to hold, and sometimes I do feel very discouraged. But when I look back over the history of that commitment's realization in the world, I see that many good things once thought to be impossible eventually came to pass because of it. Then I feel hope and courage return as I see the compass of "impossible" become increasingly thinner and smaller.


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January 6, 2008 -- The Heart of Worship (message given at Little Falls Meeting)

The [just-read proposed Baltimore Yearly Meeting] advice says, "The heart of the Religious Society of Friends is the Meeting for Worship." That leads me to the thought that the heart of Quaker worship is the heart itself. The heart is where the Light of love is. That Light shines in our hearts, illuminating our deepest desires for justice, mercy, and peace. And it shines outward, illuminating the path on which we walk toward the realization of our hearts' desires. So it seems to me that the crucial thing in worship is to open my heart to the work of love. Because of that, nearly every time I come here and take my seat for worship, I join with the ancient prayer, "Take away this heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh."


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February 24, 2008 -- To Be "Well-pleasing"

The following is the message, as best I can remember it, that I gave during worship at Little Falls on Sunday -- minus an introductory sentence that turned out to be not quite appropriate to what followed.

* * *

Lately, because I'm thinking of using ideas from it in an essay, I've been studying Love to the Lost, published in 1656 by my favorite early Quaker, James Nayler. A sentence that I read a couple of days ago struck me as capturing the essence of Quaker practice, and so it has stayed with me.

Nayler wrote that "...the way to be well-pleasing to the Father is to wait in the light till you see something of the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus moving in you, and then to that join...."

"The way to be well-pleasing to the Father..." puts us in mind of the story from the Bible: when Jesus was being baptized by John, a voice from heaven was heard, according to the story, which said, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." So Nayler is telling us that if we want to be the beloved son or daughter of God -- if we want to be the Christ, the human form of the God who is love -- this is what we should do: we should begin by waiting in the light. I think he assumes a prior commitment to love as our ultimate value, and he is telling us to find the light, even if it's only a faint glimmer, of that unselfish love in our hearts, to attend to that love until it shows us what it wants to do and who it wants us to be, and then, when we feel it moving us in that way, to join with it.

I think that remarkable little passage from Nayler encapsulates the Quaker experience: to become the human embodiment of love. It seems simple and yet immensely difficult, this beautiful process and goal of our spiritual lives.


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April 6, 2008 -- The Heart of Quakerism

The following is a significantly expanded version of a message I gave at Little Falls Meeting this morning.

* * *

I want to speak about the heart of Quakerism. In order to do that, I must speak about Jesus, Christ, God. I am not a theist. So when I speak in those terms, I'm not pushing a standard Christian, or even theistic, belief agenda; I'm using the religious metaphors of our tradition to point to the heart of our identity as Friends. That heart is a very specific, ongoing experience that is, as Quakers have insisted from the very first, available to believers and nonbelievers alike, an experience that is, in fact, as our ancestors pointed out repeatedly, very often blocked by religious belief. So I'm not talking at all about belief, or what normally passes for belief, but about the experience of transformation, of having our fundamental ways of thinking and feeling be "turned around" -- converted -- from the normal, commonsense "wisdom of the world" to the foolish wisdom of the spirit of Christ.

If the question then is "how do we know what we mean by 'the spirit of Christ'?" then the otherwise meaningless slogan is correct: Jesus is the answer. The spirit of Christ is the spirit that animated Jesus, that is shown to us in his life and death and teachings.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus, "the visible form of the invisible God" who is love, announced the coming of the Kingdom of God, the wisdom of which is not of this world. What does that image, "Kingdom of God," mean? The evangelist Luke has Jesus define the Kingdom clearly, at the very outset of his ministry, in words borrowed from Isaiah, a great prophet of social justice: "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me, and has sent me to proclaim good news for the poor...." He continues, but I think it's highly significant that the very first phrase Jesus uses to describe the new order, the Kingdom of God, is "good news for the poor." That's the agenda of the spirit of Christ in nutshell: "good news for the poor."

And what would be good news for the poor, except that those of us who have more than enough would learn to share much more than we do now, so that justice would be realized? In another place, Jesus tells the story of two men. One, well off, relaxes comfortably in his spacious home every evening, enjoying his plentiful and delicious dinner, perhaps planning his postprandial pleasures while he eats; the other, the poor man Lazarus, lies just on the other side of the well-off man's locked gate, bleeding and starving to death, hoping for crumbs from the other's table -- as if human beings can survive on crumbs, as if we well-off should consider ourselves generous if we give our crumbs to the poor. If you don't know the rest of the story, you can find it in the same Gospel of Luke (and read George Fox's "sermon" on it here): briefly, it graphically illustrates just what Jesus thought of that well-off man and those like him, who use the rationalizations of accepted worldly wisdom to justify their pleasures while the poor lie bleeding at their gates.

[T]he Lord has anointed me, and has sent me to proclaim good news for the poor, healing for the broken-hearted, freedom for the imprisoned, sight for the blind, liberation for the oppressed: to preach the year of the Lord's favor.
"The year of the Lord's favor" is the Jubilee year, the year in which the commonsense, private-property economic rules of society are set aside for the sake of justice, a year in which land is taken back from those who have hoarded it, slaves are freed, and debts are forgiven. In the Kingdom of God, the Jubilee year is now. Justice, healing, liberation, vision: the agenda of the spirit of Christ.

So we're talking about a man who put the poor first, who fed the hungry when he could, healed the sick when he could, associated with sinners and outcasts, insisted that we care for the just and the unjust alike, openly challenged religious people whose religion is a mask for unacknowledged self-centeredness and aggression, turned on their heads the commonsense rules of conventional morality -- which always favor those who have and hoard wealth and power -- and was therefore tortured to death. But he passed on his vision of the Kingdom, and he passed on the Spirit of Christ, and he became the key to our realizing that Kingdom and Spirit in our lives.

Some sixteen hundred years later, our ancestors, too, were tortured, sometimes to death, because they dared to assert their right and their obligation to be possessed of and by the Spirit that was in Jesus -- the spirit that gives and then gives more, that forgives and then forgives more; that willingly sacrifices for justice, for love of the other, and that calls on all of us to do the same, to open our hearts to the suffering of the world and to be moved to action.

They, in their turn, passed that Spirit on to us. And they handed down to us this institution called Quakerism, all of the accomplishments of which come out of that transformation of individual hearts. They gave us our unique forms of meeting: for worship in silence, and for making decisions in the Spirit of Christ -- both expressions of the unique gift which Quakerism offers the world. And these forms of gathering together have deep and serious purpose and meaning: the crucifixion of the "natural" person, the raising of the spiritual Christ in our hearts, and the manifestation of that spirit in and among us and, through us, in the world.

I've been told that Quaker meeting is a place where all opinions are respected and can get a hearing, and that Quaker decision-making is a process of arriving at truth through attending to each person's expressed opinion. Our ancestors, however, tell us that the only place personal opinions have within the meetinghouse walls is on the cross, as we courageously allow them to be crucified by love so that the spirit of Christ, which they have been trampling and trying to destroy while telling us they're doing the opposite, can be raised in us. As the first Friends read Paul, "if Christ be not raised [in us], then our faith is in vain." Our faith, our coming together, our going out into the world under the name of Quaker: all vanity unless we allow our worldly wisdom to die in silence so that the spirit of love can be raised in our hearts, can break open our hearts and make us new -- unless we help each other set aside our cherished opinions and ways of seeing the world in order that we may, as Paul said, "have the mind of Christ," that we may be brought into one mind, one heart, one body.

That is not easy. The logic of the Kingdom of God is illogic to the natural mind; the agenda of God seems to be madness. But I ask myself which is more of madness: an open life of giving and forgiving, filled with the joy and pain of love, or a life centered on the smallness of self, a life that closes its heart to Lazarus at my gate. Certainly, the life of love is very difficult and costly. But I can only echo Paul, who said that "Our present sufferings I count as nothing compared to the glory that is now unfolding within us." Our ancestors taught that each of us has a measure, more or less of the divine glory of love within us. May we be faithful to that measure, help it grow, and help each other in that process.


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May 4, 2008 -- A Message on Sharing

The following is approximately what I said during worship at Little Falls Meeting.

* * *

We recently received a mailing that pointed out, in very broad terms, the great disparity in resources between people like us, who live like royalty, and the hundreds of millions who suffer lack of resources such as food, water, shelter, fuel, safety and security, sanitation, health care, transportation -- not to mention comforts and pleasures. People dying of starvation and treatable diseases, people living in squalor and hopelessness. Doesn't it break your heart to think of that? Doesn't it lead you to ask, "What can we do?"

People asked John the Baptist the very same question: "What can we do?" He gave a brief answer that succinctly sums up what came to be the Christian ethic: "If you have two tunics, share with someone who has none. And if you have food, do likewise."

Wouldn't it be a beautiful thing if we actually did that? If we actually would "live simply so that others may simply live"? Wouldn't it be beautiful if, for example, instead of getting into a fuel-burning, pollution-creating conveyance and going off to buy myself more comforts and pleasures this summer, I took my delight in helping to rescue people from lives of deprivation and suffering? If that were how I re-created, if that were how I found joy? Wouldn't it be beautiful if we would take John Woolman's words to heart and "turn all that we possess into the channel of universal love"?


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August 10, 2008 -- The Spiritual Ear

The following is approximately what I said during worship at Little Falls Meeting.

* * *

Every week, as I approach the driveway to the meetinghouse, I see our sign by the road: "Quakers Value Truth." Whenever I see it, I can't help but remember Pontius Pilate's quip: "What is truth?" He asked that question after Jesus had said to him, "all who are of the truth hear my voice" [Jn 18:37-38].

Paul tells us that Jesus the Christ is the image of the invisible God [Col 1:15]. And John tells us that God is love [1Jn 4:8]. The voice of Jesus is, then, the "still, small voice" [1Kings 19:12] of God, the silent voice of love. But how do we hear a still, or silent, voice? Physical sound is movement of air, of matter; spiritual sound must be movement of Spirit. The first Friends taught that we must develop a "spiritual ear" if we are to hear the voice of the Spirit. We do that, they said, by becoming silent. In inner stillness, we can lean to feel the movement of the Spirit of love in our hearts. As we become increasingly better attuned, better able to discern that movement, we develop our "spiritual ear" and become increasingly open to being led by the "divine motions" [Wm. Penn, preface to Fox's Journal] of love in the heart.


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August 17, 2008 -- The Truth of the New Testament

The following is approximately what I said during worship at Little Falls Meeting.

* * *

As we drove in today, my friend commented on the sign out front, "Quakers Value Truth," and then of course at 11 I heard the church bells [from the Catholic church across the street], and so I continue my meditations on truth. I'm thinking of the countless preachers, people our ancestors would call "hireling ministers," who are doing today what they believe is the ministry of the New Testament: preaching from a book, and claiming that the book contains truth, that it is the "new testament" of God, and that it must be used as a rulebook for human life. And I recall a passage from one of the letters attributed to Paul, in which he says that we are insufficient as ministers, but God [who is love] is our sufficiency, making us "able ministers of the New Testament: not of the letter [that is, the written word] but of the spirit; for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life" [2Cor 3:6].

The Greek word translated "testament" -- and "new testament" is how the phrase is translated in the King James Version in the passage I just quoted -- is also translated as "covenant," and in fact its primary meaning is "contract." The idea of the "new covenant" takes us back to one of the prophetic books, Jeremiah, in which Yahweh says something like this: "This is the covenant that I make ... after those days, ... I put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and I am their God, and they are my people. And no one need teach another about me anymore, saying, 'Know God,' for they all know me in their hearts." [See Jeremiah 31:33-34 in Young's Literal Translation.]

I think it likely that Paul had that passage from Jeremiah in mind as he wrote about being ministers of the new testament. A few lines later in that section, Paul talks about Moses, who veiled his face when he delivered the written covenant. And he says that people continued to veil their hearts when they read the "old covenant," but that we, turning to the Lord who is spirit, find the veils of words removed. "But we, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory ...." In the new covenant, we not only gaze upon God; we are transformed and made one with God through openness to the living "law" of love in our hearts.

I'm struck by the irony, the absurdity even, of preachers claiming that a book -- a set of books, actually -- is the new testament of God, when that "book" itself, consonant with the older scripture on which it relies, says that the new testament is a covenant "written," not in spirit-killing words contained in books, but in the life-giving spirit of the-God-who-is-love in the human heart. And so our Quaker ministry of truth, the ministry of the new testament or covenant, is to help each other to transcend the book and to live the law of the heart -- to unveil our true face, the human image of the God who is love.


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November 9, 2008 -- Giving Birth to Christ: Spiritual Worship

Following is the substance of a message given recently at Homewood Meeting. (Some elements of the message reappeared in a message about pacifism given on 12/07/2008 at Little Falls Meeting.)

* * *

Meister Eckhart is said to have written that "We are all meant to be mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born." And at the beginning of the rule of life of the Third Order Secular of St. Francis, of which I was a member when I was much younger, there's a remarkable quotation from Francis of Assisi that goes something like this: "we are mothers; we bear Christ in our hearts and bodies through divine love.... We give birth to him through holy lives that serve as examples to enlighten others."

Those are very Quaker-like statements, I think. The ending phrase of Francis's reminds me of George Fox's, "Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one, whereby in them ye may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you...."

But the idea of being the mother of God, of bearing Christ in one's body, goes to the heart of the original Quaker experience. Scholar Richard Bailey argues that that experience should be called "celestial inhabitation," because what the Quakers believed they experienced, strange though it sounds to us, was the physical presence of Christ in them, the inhabitation of their bodies by the "glorified" body of Christ such that they became, as scripture has it, "flesh of his flesh." [See Eph. 5:30-32, which refers to Gen. 2:23-24.] With the shaking and quaking, the healings, the occasional raising from the dead, the "going naked for a sign," and other street theater such as Naylor's re-enactment at Bristol of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, early Quakerism was a very physical religion, a religion of the body.

But as I sit with you in calm silence, I ponder how to put that physicality together with the spiritual nature of worship. Quaker worship wants to be faithful to the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospel According to John [4:24]: "God is spirit, and they who worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth." How does spiritual worship take such physical form?

There's a passage in a letter of Paul [Rom. 12:1] that brings the two together. Paul wrote, "I urge you to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God -- your spiritual worship. And do not be conformed to the world as it is now, but rather be transformed by the remaking of your minds, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, and pleasing, and perfect."

That is what we do in worship, how we bear Christ in our hearts and bodies and give him birth into the world: we offer our bodies as living sacrifices for "celestial inhabitation" by his spiritual body, his nature, which is love. And this is a sacrificial offering because he is the Lamb slain from the beginning of this world [Rev. 13:8], the Lamb among wolves, and that Lamb is what we become if we give our bodies to the leading of his spirit. This Lamb's "war" of love is fought only with the weapons of the spirit: compassion, courage, longsuffering, nonviolence, dedication to justice. This is the war of the Lamb who is perpetually slain, the "God [who] is always needing to be born."


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March 1, 2009 -- "For the Scripture Kills"

"Truly, none can minister gospelly, none can minister under the new covenant, but those that minister from and in the Spirit" -- Isaac Penington, pub. 1671.

After a Friend spoke about Elizabeth Fry's "gospel ministry" during worship at Homewood Meeting, a few other Friends spoke on a variety of topics. I then rose, holding in my hand a Bible, and gave a message, the substance of which follows. (In looking back in this journal, I see that I had spoken in a similar vein at Little Falls about six months earlier.)

* * *

The phrase "gospel ministry" called my attention to this book, which I brought up here for the discussion we had before worship this morning. On the spine of this book are the words "Holy Bible," as if a book could be holy. When read in the usual, "common-sense" manner, this book contains many quite unholy things, like a command to have your son stoned to death if he talks back to you. But it was the genius of the first Friends to read this book as a sort of epic poem of the journey of humanity from the prison of words to the freedom of the spirit of love.

Many people call this book "the word of God." But among the writings in this volume is a book called, unfortunately (I'll return to that), "the Gospel according to John." As Friends insistently pointed out, John's book states clearly that the word of God is Christ, the creative spiritual power through which all things exist. (I'm reminded of George Fox's asking people if they thought they could carry the Spirit around in their pockets.)

John's book is in a section prefaced by a title page saying "The New Testament." This impresses me as a use of language that is either cunning or blind. For inside that section is a letter from the apostle Paul, who writes, "God has made us able ministers of the new testament: not of words (gramma: the letter; the written word; the scripture), for words kill, but of spirit, for spirit gives life." [See 2 Cor. 3:6.] That life-giving spirit is Christ, the Word we met in John. And so the first Friends proclaimed that Christ himself is the new testament, the new covenant.

And as for the use of the word "gospel" as a title for John's writing: as the Friends noted, Paul wrote that "the gospel is the power of God." And he wrote, too, that Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. Writings cannot contain, but can only point to, that wisdom and power.

The present, creative spiritual power which our tradition calls Christ is, then, the Word of God, the new testament, the gospel, the power and wisdom of God. And so, for Quakers, gospel ministry means living in Christ, living in -- and living out -- the power and wisdom of the God who is love.


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March 29, 2009 -- "No Spiritual Life to Speak Of"

The following is approximately what I said during worship today at Homewood Meeting -- with a quotation from The Weakness of God reproduced accurately here from the book, not, as Friends heard it in worship, imperfectly from my memory.

* * *

I recently received a telephone call from a woman who wanted to interview me here next weekend. (She plans to rent one of our classrooms.) She is writing, or compiling, a book about people's spiritual lives, their spiritual journeys. At first I was interested in the project. A few days later, however, I received an e-mail message from the author, in which she spoke of a "high degree of desire for liberation" and of venturing "into the mystery of the spiritual realms." I began to reconsider.

When I looked up the author on line, I found that she is a disciple of the contemporary guru who calls himself, after the 14th-century Neoplatonist Meister Eckhart, Eckhart Tolle. Tolle has become popular and prosperous since being embraced by Oprah Winfrey -- popular enough that I've read something of his ideas. If I understand him correctly through my very limited exposure, he speaks of attaining inner peace by stopping thought, living only in the present, and realizing our oneness with God conceived as a universal soul or identity. (He appears to embrace what Aldous Huxley called the "perennial philosophy" -- although of course he must believe or claim that it is beyond thought -- a panentheism based on philosophies such as Advaita Vedanta and that of Eckhart; again, though, I haven't read much of his material.)

By then, I knew that I would decline the interview, because, in that paradigm, I have no spiritual life to speak of. I'm just a Quaker: plain, simple, and practical. I have no desire for liberation, and no desire to soar in mysterious spiritual realms. Inner peace seems to me to be a goal unworthy of human beings. As a Quaker, although a nontheist (and non-panentheist) one, I remain firmly rooted in the biblical tradition. And "[i]n the biblical tradition," postmodern religious thinker John D. Caputo wrote, "God is not the object of a speculative mysticism that sweeps us up into an eternal now where we are one with the One, but the one who comes knocking at our door dressed in rags in search of bread and a cup of cold water" (The Weakness of God, p. 263). In our tradition, God is the one who lies bleeding at our gate, hoping for crumbs from our table -- the one whose life is crushed under the boot of oppression, not only by the rich and powerful, but also by ordinary, decent folk like us. Keeping my heart open, and responding, to the reality of that God is the only spiritual life that makes sense to me.


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June 14, 2009 -- Unity in Worship

This morning, I offered a message in worship during Quarterly Meeting at Little Falls. What follows is the best reconstruction of that message that my poor memory can make: I know that most of it is very close to what I said.

* * *

It's a beautiful thing that we come together with open hearts and minds to engage in, and to support each other in, this unique, often difficult, and for some of us perhaps even psychologically dangerous spiritual discipline of Quaker worship: to seek, in quiet faith, the power of love in our hearts; and when we have felt something of that power, caught perhaps just a glimmer of its light within us, to open ourselves more fully to it, to surrender to it, and to join with it as it re-creates us in its own image and likeness. Despite our many and often deep differences -- differences in beliefs, in ways of thinking and feeling and expressing ourselves, in hopes, in fears, in life experience, and so on and so on -- we come together in worship. I am convinced that it is in this shared discipline, this shared experience, and not in ideas, that we have unity -- and that, although the differences between us and previous generations are even greater than those among us, in the experience of worship we have continuity, too, with Friends through the centuries, back to the time of George Fox at Firbank Fell and even beyond: generation after generation of Friends helping each other to make the journey from seeking to finding to surrendering to and being deeply changed by the power of love within them, and then going out in that power, using that power to help bring positive change to the world.


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