On Worship – Battleground in the Lamb's War
Our work then and worship is, when we meet together, for everyone to watch and wait upon God in themselves .... And as everyone is thus stated they come to find the good arise over the evil and the pure over the impure, in which God reveals himself and draweth near to every individual, ... and therefore the Lord oftentimes, ... doth .. cause his Power to break forth in a more strong and powerful manner; ... then the good Seed ... will be found to work as physic in the soul, ... and through the contrary workings of the power of darkness there will be found an inward striving in the soul,.... And from this inward travail, while the darkness seeks to obscure the Light, and the Light break through the darkness ... there will be such a painful travail found in the soul that will even work upon the outward man; so that oftentimes ...the body will be greatly shaken, and many groans and sighs and tears ... will lay hold upon it; ... sometimes the power of God will break forth into a whole meeting, and there will be such an inward travail, while each is seeking to overcome the evil in themselves, that by the strong contrary workings of these opposite powers, like the going of two contrary tides, every individual will be strongly exercised as in a day of battle; and thereby trembling and a motion of body will be upon most, if not upon all, which, as the power of Truth prevails, will from pangs and groans end with a sweet sound of thanksgiving and praise, and from this the name of "Quakers," ... was first reproachfully cast upon us.
[Propostion 11, Section 8]
Have we ever experienced our meetings as a battleground in the struggle of good and evil? Do we even think of our spiritual lives in those terms? Even if our interior life is free of what we call evil, what about our lives in the world. All of us Friends, at least those in North America and Europe are inextricably enmeshed in an economic system that consumes a disproportionate share of the worlds resources. Gas prices are rising because oil production can no longer keep pace with worldwide demand. Food prices are rising because we are using food crops as replacements for oil. The Day of the Lord is upon us. Are we ever stricken with trembling, groans or tears? Are we seeking comfort and peace when we should be seeing what we have wrought over the face of the earth?
The seeds of war and economic injustice and ecological destruction are deeply planted on our hearts, our lives and our societies. Do we see meeting for worship as a place where the seed of God can be nourished so that it can grow to dominion over these seeds of darkness. Do we come to meeting for worship seeking the gentle rain and the warm sun when what we need might be the deep plowing and the laying of the axe to the roots of the overgrowing scrub brush? Most important, do we come to meeting undertaking to do this work together, trusting in the power of the Lord to do what we cannot do for ourselves?
Blessings to all,