From our Pastor

From our Pastor’s message of Sunday, April 15, 2012
Rufus Jones grew up near here in South China, Maine. In his book “Trail of Life through the Early Years,” he wrote about what it was like to grow up as a Friend, to grow up “Quaker.” In the following quote, he is talking about what going to Meeting was like when he was just about 10 years old. He says: “Very often in these meetings for Worship, there were long periods of silence … I do not think that anyone ever told me what the silence was for. It does not seem necessary to explain Quaker silence to children. They feel what it means …”
Then on the next page he says: “Sometimes a real spiritual wave would sweep over the Meeting in these silent hushes, which made me feel very solemn and which carried me – careless boy that I was – down into something deeper than my own thoughts, gave me a momentary sense of that Spirit who has been the life and light of people in all ages and in all lands.”
It is that same “something deeper” that we are gathered this Easter in family Worship to recognize and to celebrate. What we are actually doing is FEELING … in the same way that Rufus Jones says Quaker children feel and just know why they’re sitting here together even without explanation. We are feeling our way down to the place where we get it that God is with us. Since that first Easter morning when Mary sees that the stone has been rolled away, when she meets and recognizes Jesus there in the garden; since that very morning we have all had direct access to the Light of the risen Christ. And Friends have always seemed to know that we find it in our own hearts. From the oldest of us to the youngest it is this that we come to know in Meeting for Worship.
But, until George Fox made his great discovery on Pendle Hill in England, until he had his direct experience of God — of the inward teacher — the risen Christ; until then, for nearly 1,500 years (and sometimes even today) this kind of knowing was almost forgotten. It got hidden, locked away really, in church ritual. And for most people hope got postponed, put off to the distant future … till the end of time.
Hope postponed reminds me of our human tendency of putting off until tomorrow what might be better done today. Why? Because moving the very present reality of God close at hand, into the future, into another time … a second coming … could be a way of saving the actual practice of Christianity for later. If we say “Christ is risen” but continue to see this spiritual reality only as a metaphor, something that is not real and certainly not very practical, we may be able to convince ourselves that it’s OK to cut some corners where justice is concerned. We may be able to rationalize slashing budgets for social programs, but continue to spend countless billions on armaments. These are the sort of corners that we might not cut so easily, if we knew, really deeply knew, felt from our own experience, that Christ is risen, eternally present among us. Would knowing this deepen our integrity and compassion?
At Easter we do this every year — we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection — but what, I wonder, does this inner resurrection actually look like? I know myself that I have been slow to understand and receive the guidance
of this Light. I think this is largely because the inner experience can be quite subtle, and because the Light of the inner resurrection shows up in the most ordinary places and times. It shows up in the everyday events of our lives.
Remember how from time to time you’ll have a flash of insight or a wise moment when you perceive some deeper truth, perhaps a truth that once you see it you just know and have always known it to be true?
Or perhaps you are working on a problem and suddenly you see your way forward, you just know how to proceed? These are, I think, gifts … gifts of the spirit to our better selves. But, for so much of my life I misunderstood them to be the product of my own mind. I did not understand the source of that still small voice within — I did not understand just how intimate God is, or what part Spirit plays in our daily lives. I do not think that I often realized just how much help we really receive. This is how it is: the inner resurrection helps us trace the footsteps of God as they wind their way through the ordinary moments of our lives.
The resurrection lets the Truth of God’s Presence shine.
So, it’s Easter and we celebrate the beauty of God’s world. We celebrate the shining Truth of the Resurrection, and we give thanks … for all the help we do receive.
For, He is, indeed, Risen this day.

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