Growing Together in the Light

A place for Friends and others to explore Quakerism. A place where, in the Light that comes from God, we may all grow and where we may hope to find a unity that underlies our diversity of language.

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Location: Arlington, Massachusetts, United States

Raised a Friend, I am currently a member of Fresh Pond Meeting in Cambridge, Mass. I am also active in Salem Quarterly Meeting and in New England Yearly Meeting.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A belated Advent meditation

O come, O come Emanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That waits in lonely exile here
Until the Son of Man appear.

Dear God,

We are held captive in Babylon.
We are captive to a system that values everything with money
so it only values that which can be bought and sold
and buys and sells everything of value.
We are captives of a way of life that has plundered the earth
until the earth itself is turning against us.
We are captives of as economic system that extracts wealth from the poor
and distributes it to the rich.
We are captives of a political system that values power as an end in itself
and does not have compassion for the poor and the powerless.

Forgive us Father for what we have done and for what we have left undone.

We have taken your good gifts and have turned them into idols.
We use them to fill the holes in us that are the places where you would reside.
We use food and drink and lust and gambling and a thousand other addictions to keep us from seeing the truths about ourselves that You would show us, and in the showing, heal us.
We have forgotten You, thinking that somehow we can save ourselves with our own power and wealth and technology.
We have each of us turned to our own way, prizing individuality as a supreme virtue and forgetting that you said you would be with us when we were gathered together.

Forgive us Father for what we have done and for what we have left undone.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Shall come to thee O Israel

Israel – the one who strives with God – Rejoice.
Emanuel – God With Us – will come to you and lead you. Rejoice!

You will set us free and lead us to the New Jerusalem
Where Your presence is with us all the time
Where Your Light and healing have removed our sin and brokenness.
Where all may come because the gates are always open and never close.
Where there is a new heaven and a new earth because the old have passed away.

Thank you, God, for your blessings, for your healings and for your promise.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas and the Adult Christ

At Christmas time Quakers, like the rest of Christiandom celebrate the infant Christ, the new baby laying in the manger. At least for me, it conjures images of the beginnings of spiritual growth. It is a celebration of those first glimmers of spiritual awakening, a spark of Light in the long night of darkness that can be felt.

But is that all there is? Is it only about the infant Christ? The first breaths of the Christ within when, in the awesomeness of discovery we come and worship and offer our gifts. What about later, when the Inner Christ has grown into a toddler and needs to be disciplined? When we need to learn that all promptings in our heart are not from God? When we learn that we need to know better the voice of God so we know when to follow and when to say no? What about when the Inner Christ is just learning to speak and the words are not clear? We need to listen closely and engage in conversation so that the growing spiritual child will learn to speak clearly. Do we, in our lives and our meetings, celebrate this growth, and share our experiences, and help each other with a kind and gentle hand?

What about when the infant Christ has grown within us and has become the adult Christ? Are we willing to share an adult, fully grown faith with each other? Can we learn to speak with the spiritual voice of a mature adult and not just in the tentative words of the spiritual infant?

Perhaps because so many modern Friends come from other backgrounds and traditions, the voice of the seeker seems more prevalent than the voice of the mature finder. So as we celebrate this season with stories of the birth of Jesus, let us remember that birth is not the end point of our spiritual lives, any more than childbirth is the essence of parenting. These are only starting points. The goal of parenting is to raise adults who are loving and caring and have the strength and skills to face the challenges of their lives. So with our spiritual lives, the goal is not just a spiritual rebirth, but to have the inner Christ grow within us to be a everyday guide, comfort and support, to have the presence of God a part of everything we do, and to share the fruits of that growth with the people around us and in the wider world.

Blessings to all.

Merry Christmas

Will T.