Last week we experienced an electrical power outage that lasted 3 days. We made do: we lit a fire in the wood stove; we cooked on the propane stove; we lit candles; and we hauled water from a rain barrel to flush the toilet. All this made me think about power sources and how they can be disrupted. In our case, there had been an early, heavy snow that caused trees to fall across power lines. It took days for the line workers to cut trees, repair transformers, etc. When the power was finally restored I realized how much I take it for granted and how much our lives depend on it.
It made me wonder about spiritual power outages. In those times when I feel disconnected from God, is it because the power has gone away, as it seems, or is it that some metaphorical trees have fallen on the lines? What do I need to clear away in order to restore the connection?
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)