Falmouth Quarter is gathering on April 24th from 9:30 to 12:00. We will be celebrating ministry and the life of the Spirit in our meetings throughout the morning in each of the concerns before us.
The ZOOM link is here (the same link that Durham Friends uses for First Day worship). .
We will hear Memorial Minutes sharing the lives and witness of Friends we have known and loved. If there are minutes I have not yet received, please send them to me
We will hear the State of Society reports, sharing our experience of Spirit in the life of our meetings. If there is a SoS I haven’t yet received, please send it to me.
We will hear reports and sharing about and from individuals with recognized ministries in Falmouth Quarter.
To help prepare, I am sharing the following from Carl Williams, Plainfield meeting, as one expression of Friends understanding of ministry:
Love Fritz [Fritz Weiss is Co-Clerk of Falmouth Quarter]
|Living Close to the Center|
|My prayer time has felt a bit chaotic recently. Not uncentered, really, but there’s been a sense of swirling and disjointed divergence, seemingly with no common thread. And then during worship on Sunday—wham. I imagine I share the experience with many Friends—the startling epiphany, that moment of clarity, when understanding is laid suddenly bare and you’re presented with a gift you didn’t even know you wanted. |
For me, this time, there was a renewed understanding, a reminder, of the depth of one of Friends’ pivotal concepts, often encased in the phrase “that of God,” or “the seed of Christ.” I confess I use these a lot—both out loud and in my head. In their overuse, they’d become hollow and trite. I’d lost my awareness of the essential importance they carry in my day-in-day out life.
And as I sat in virtual worship, this refreshed understanding brought me around to the practical aspect of carrying the Seed of Christ—our ministry. I know that the idea of ministry among Friends is sometimes a challenge for many of us. I think, in part, because it’s one of those terms that looks the same but whose meaning is different “in the world” than in our Friendly understanding. The world’s definition has proven only a short walk to hierarchy and exclusion, certainly antithetical to the path of Friends.
My Quaker understanding of ministry comes (in part) from its Latin root, “to serve.” Friends ministry holds primarily an active engagement with that Divine Spark that we each carry. And as we embrace that Spark, a path of service opens. It’s not just doing things we are good at or like to do, but the things—which are sometimes hard and not infrequently inconvenient—that God calls us toward. Yes, vocal and Gospel ministry are part of it, but there are many and varied ministries, from baking to eldership, expressions of being the hands and feet, the eyes and ears and mouth of God.
Ministry is the reverberation of the “that of God” we each carry. It grows and is nurtured in community. We find it by living close to the Center. Genuine ministry involves waiting and listening as well as giving and receiving. Our ministries rise, are recognized, nurtured, and challenged within our worship communities. While it’s the role of the community to identify a Friend’s ministry and encourage it, ministry grows from the Spark, the Seed, the “that of God.”
It’s easier said than done for me, this living into the Center. How do I step into that place? It requires surrender, it requires stepping into places I might not normally step into. It requires openness to God’s whispering call. In my seeking I join in prayer with Flursey, a 7th-century Irish monk, and his protection prayer (lorica):
May the guiding hands of God be on my shoulders,
may the presence of the Holy Spirit be on my head,
may the sign of Christ be on my forehead,
may the voice of the Holy Spirit be in my ears,
may the smell of the Holy Spirit be in my nose …
may the work of the church of God be in my hands,
may the serving of God and my neighbor be in my feet,
may God make my heart his home …
In the joy of listening to God’s call,
Plainfield (VT) Friends Meeting