[saymaListserv] [Fwd: Book Musings from Lucy]

Perry Treadwell perryt at bellsouth.net
Wed Feb 9 14:23:44 JEST 2005



Dear Friends,

 

The experience that led me to Friends was a deeply healing experience of 
the divine. After a time of deep sorrow in which I felt as though my 
spirit was no bigger than a pea and buried deep inside my body, I was 
driving to work through the flaxen-colored east Bay hills. When I 
reached the crest of a hill I was greeted by the red-orange light of 
dawn. In that moment, I felt as though my limbs were filling with the 
warm energy of the Spirit, I had a deep sense of well-being and knew 
that I was being held by God. I had known Friends and read some Quaker 
writings and immediately identified this experience with Quakers. When I 
began attending meeting for worship I found the kind of focused 
attentiveness to the Spirit that helped me maintain the connection that 
I discovered that day.

 

I spoke recently with a f/Friend seeking resources to help her new 
meeting's worship become more grounded and centered. She was surprised 
that Friends would frequently stand during worship and give 
announcements, that sometimes Friends would spend the entire hour 
reading and that often vocal ministry was more like a conversation than 
an upwelling of the Spirit. With the worship and ministry committee, she 
is seeking ways to lovingly nurture a deeper experience in meeting for 
worship and asked what print resources I would recommend. She wanted 
pamphlets that could be distributed to the whole ministry and worship 
committee and, perhaps, to an adult religious education class and that 
could be read in one sitting, but give a vision of a meeting gathered by 
the holy Spirit. Her hope is that when visitors come to her meeting they 
will feel the power of the living presence there, as I did when I first 
attended meeting.

 

The first book I thought of was Marcelle Martin's pamphlet INVITATION TO 
A DEEPER COMMUNION <http://www.quakerbooks.org/get/0-87574-366-8> . She 
explores early Friends' experiences of sloughing off the busyness of 
mind and getting to a place of emptiness in which they can receive God. 
She then describes her own spiritual journey and transformative mystical 
experiences she has had in and out of meeting for worship. Out of these 
experiences arose a strong leading for her to help Friends experience 
covered meetings as she has. She then describes the gathered meetings 
she and others have had experimenting with extended worship with a 
strong intention to gather the spirit. This is a deeply felt exploration 
into the mystery of entering into a divine connection in the context of 
meeting for worship. I would commend it to every attender and member as 
a tool for sharing a vision of what meeting for worship can be.

Another book, more on the practical side, that I immediately thought of 
was THE QUALITY AND DEPTH OF WORSHIP AND MINISTRY  
<http://www.quakerbooks.org/get/0-85245-329-9> put together by the 
Britain Yearly Meeting's Committee on Eldership and Oversight. This book 
brings together many meetings' experiences of transforming worship and 
ministry and offers these experiences as advices and queries for group 
reflection. This is an excellent resource for adult religious education 
and for engaging the entire meeting in a dialogue about what constitutes 
a grounded meeting for worship.

Another pamphlet that is a classic resource and often handed to 
newcomers to meeting for worship is Bill Taber's FOUR DOORS TO MEETING 
FOR WORSHIP <http://www.quakerbooks.org/get/0-87574-306-4> . He offers 
tools for entering worship and preparing for worship to readily access 
the inward presence. The first door is 'the door before' or "those 
moments when we find ourselves in a worshipful state of mind at any time 
during the week." He suggests taking time out for spiritual retirement 
or refreshment during the week so as to foster the divine connection. He 
speaks of many small moments throughout one's day that can be used for 
worship. The second door is the 'door inward' in which the attender 
intentionally transitions into meeting for worship. The third door is 
'the door within' which is the moment when the meeting body enters into 
the living presence together; the author describes many possible 
experiences of worship once the center of worship is reached such as 
experiences of healing, of perceiving another attender quite 
differently, or exploring memories from a more conscious perspective. In 
this section he also explores the process of discerning when a message 
is intended for the whole community. The fourth door, 'the door beyond,' 
is the passage from meeting for worship into daily life, entering that 
'normal' life with renewed energy and vision. This pamphlet offers very 
clear advice on entering and preparing for worship and fully answers the 
question that many new attenders have, "What's going on in there?"

A longer and older book that emphasizes the experience of 
'qualification' which transforms vocal ministry from an outpouring of 
the ego or will into an outward expression of the spirit is Samuel 
Bownas' A DESCRIPTION OF THE QUALIFICATIONS NECESSARY TO A GOSPEL 
MINISTER <http://www.quakerbooks.org/get/0-87574-911-9> . Friends 
seeking to nurture and deepen ministry in their meetings will find 
remarkably clear, specific and relevant guidance in this classic work. 
"Qualification, as this eighteenth century Friend uses the word, implies 
that one has gone through a process of personal transformation which 
reorients the ego, the will, and the attention so that one can be 
trusted purely to receive and purely to give forth an inspired message" 
(William Taber, from the Introduction). Bownas offers advice on 
'qualifying' vocal ministry and other forms of ministry. A careful 
reading of the book can help Friends learn to discern the difference 
between the ego and Divine will. For deeper exploration into the 
spiritual roots of vocal ministry, I heartily recommend this small, 
unassuming book.

A couple years ago a Friend and I experimented with planning a junior 
meeting for worship with young people at Central Philadelphia Monthly 
Meeting. We brought together young people and gave them the goal of 
helping those that attended our semi-programmed worship experiences to 
have encounters with the divine or numinous. We had a lively discussion 
of what that might feel like and one participant said that one time she 
often felt centered was right after she cleaned her room (an excellent 
suggestion for preparing for worship! I thought). In any case the young 
people planned worship experiences several times and learned quite a bit 
(I think) about what would help a roomful of people center and enter 
worship together. One resource we all relied on heavily was OPENING 
DOORS TO QUAKER WORSHIP <http://www.quakerbooks.org/get/0-9620912-6-x> 
created by the Religious Education Committee of FGC. In it are numerous 
centering techniques and suggestions for inviting young people (and 
adults!) into rich worship experiences. A few of my favorites were 
guided mediations, watching dispersed sand settle in a jar, intentional 
listening, blessing one another, holding each person in the Light in 
turn, and centering with song. Opening Doors to Quaker Worship offers 
many invitations and tools for entering and extending worship for 
children and adults.

All of these books are excellent tools for helping individuals and 
groups enter into and deepen their worship experiences. I feel so 
strongly about the importance of these titles that we will offer any 
title mentioned in this bulletin at a 10% discount through next Tuesday, 
February 15th.  There's no need to put a special code anywhere, just 
order any of these books in the next week and we'll automatically apply 
the discount.

 

May your winter days be filled with the glimmer of divine Light.

 

In the Spirit,

Lucy

Lucy Duncan, QuakerBooks of FGC

1216 Arch St., Ste 2B, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Toll-free: 800-966-4556.

PS: if you'd like to read this letter online, go to our Bookstore 
Specials page <http://www.quakerbooks.org/info/specials.php>

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