Most of us are living a closed-in, closed-down life. We’re waiting for this strange time to pass. And by ‘strange time’ I certainly mean the pandemic, but I mean more than that: I mean what’s been unleashed in public life in recent years: corruption, bigotry, violence. These also can put us back on our heels, sheltered, for safety. The pandemic requires me to stay apart from others, but the bigotry, violence and corruption can lead me to cower in a bunker, shut up in my house, waiting for it all to pass.
Sometimes it feels like a strange dream: this is not my country; this is not my world. But I know that it is my country and my world. Waiting it out, cowering: these are not what I should be doing, or certainly not all that I should be doing. It can feel like I don’t have much to offer – or that we don’t have much to offer. It feels like I just have to wait it out – all the bad stuff.
But on second thought I think we do have things to offer. That’s what’s on my mind this morning. What Have We to Offer? I’ve been making a list. So, six things we have to offer– and I’m sure this is a partial list.
3. Here’s a third thing we can offer: “Jesus has come to teach his people himself.” In this community, Durham Friends Meeting, we know God will speak to us if we still ourselves and listen. God will give us comfort. Even more, God or Spirit will show us the way. What an amazing thing this is that we have to offer.
We’re not alone in the bunker. We’re in this together, and we’re in it with God. This idea that God speaks to us in the present: that is a very special thing that Quaker Meetings have to offer. We should take advantage of this gift, and we do. And we should share this gift with others – as often and loudly as we can. We have a Teacher with us, always, to give us insight and courage, reassurance and encouragement. So this is a third thing we have to offer.
4. And here’s a fourth thing we have to offer, one we grasp when we truly grasp God will speak to us in the present. We can remind ourselves that the Kingdom of Heaven is here now. Of course it doesn‘t come automatically; it’s ours to build, this Kingdom of Heaven. It’s not easy and not quick; it will take persistence and courage. Still, the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t in some distant future, the Rapture or the Second Coming, something in the unknown future.
We’re not waiting; we’re building. We remind ourselves of this, and if we’re on our game, we tell other people this. This understanding that the Kingdom of Heaven is really here, now, is a tremendous gift that Quakers offer the world. If we’re really on our game, we show them this. We join with others in building the beloved community.
We can take these offerings for granted. They may come too easily to us. We need to remember them when we feel like cowering or just sheltering in place. Nevertheless, we mustn’t be shy or withdrawn. We have things to offer – to one another, to our neighbors, to Mainers, to Americans, to the world.
We have much to offer. Let us be generous.
[The full message is available on Riverview Friend.]