What does Meeting mean to you?

When you tell non-Quakers that you are “going to meeting,” do you encounter blank stares? One of our young Friends told me that he just says he’s going to church rather than try to explain what a meeting is. A Friends United Meeting pastor recently posted an article suggesting that we reconsider the word “meeting,” as a verb form rather than a noun.   I think he meant that meeting it isn’t a place but an action. Whom or what are we meeting? he asked.

Here are his ideas:

As a Jesus-centered meeting, we are meeting Jesus. As we sing, pray, listen and wait it is Jesus that is our focus.
-We are also meeting each other. Our worship community is meeting in worship, fellowship and service
-We are also meeting the larger world around us, following in the footsteps of Jesus by meeting needs, demonstrating love and giving of ourselves.
Rethinking “meeting” as a verb may help us understand better why we are here and what we are supposed to be doing. 

While many in our liberal, unprogrammed meetings may take exception to some of his words, I think we would all agree to most of what he says. Quakerism is radically counter-cultural in focusing on the community rather than the individual. It is also deeply mystical in affirming that we can encounter, or meet, the Divine when we gather together in worship.

When you are asked “What does Meeting mean to you?” Do you think of the place where meeting happens? Do you think of an entity that is trying to tell you what to do (like “government”)? Or do you think, “In what ways do I connect with Spirit, with other Quakers, and with the larger community? “

(quotes from Bill Clendineng, “Thee and Me”, Plainfield Friends, September 17, 2015)

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One thought on “What does Meeting mean to you?

  1. Brad Sheeks

    Thanks, Charley, for including me in your new blog.
    Perhaps the blank stare is understandable since it is an insider line, not generally known outside the Quaker community.

    And, yes, Bill Clendineng’s questions are spot on, How do we do the things we hope to do?

    Had a very good session of our reflection/sharing group on Sunday which I facilitate once a month.We reflected on an excerpt from the Pope’s homily in Philadelphia on the theme of small kindnesses we do for each other and for the stranger. Of course he was talking about the family as the basic unit of our relationships, and not about the church. A little off your subject.

    He said,

    “Faith opens a “window” to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures. “Whoever gives you a cup of water in my name will not go unrewarded”, says Jesus (cf. Mk 9:41). These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work.
    Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith.
    So we might ask ourselves: How are we trying to live this way in our homes, in our societies? What kind of world do we want to leave to our children? We cannot answer these questions alone, by ourselves. It is the Spirit who challenges us to respond as part of the great human family.
    We Christians, the Lord’s disciples, ask the families of the world to help us! How many of us are here at this celebration! This is itself something prophetic, a kind of miracle in today’s world. Would that we could all be prophets! Would that all of us could be open to miracles of love for the sake of all the families of the world, and thus overcome the scandal of a narrow, petty love, closed in on itself, impatient of others!
    And how beautiful it would be if everywhere, even beyond our borders, we could appreciate and encourage this prophecy and this miracle! We renew our faith in the word of the Lord which invites faithful families to this openness. It invites all those who want to share the prophecy of the covenant of man and woman, which generates life and reveals God!”

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