Advices and Queries For the Month of April 2011
The Sacramental Life
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:16-17
Elton Trueblood from The Essence of Spiritual Religion
Life becomes rich and fine if the great moments like birth and marriage, are seen as windows through which God’s light is streaming, but these great or potentially great moments are legion.The sacramental experience may be the reading of a true book; it may be the entrance into a deep friendship; it may be the undertaking of a journey. The holy time may be be that in which a little child starts off to his first day of school, and many of us know that few times are as full of meaning. Some of us can never watch the beginning of a new home and the fine courage which so often dignifies the love of two young people without feeling that we have, indeed, looked into the Holy of Holies. Perhaps that is because the experience of falling in love is so closely analogous to the central experience of religion.
The point is, then, that when we limit the sacraments to any prescribed number we are doing violence to reality as we know it. The sacrament of cleaning a room is as genuine as the sacrament of penance and the true book is more than a book, just as wine is more than wine. A great library is as much a holy place as any high altar, and if we lift our hats when passing the building which houses the latter, why should we not lift our hats when passing the building that houses the former?
If we allow ourselves to think what a library means, if we dwell on the multitude of thoughts, the hours of patient literary labor, the uncounted efforts to pass on to us something of the mystery of living, we do indeed find ourselves by a magnificent window with the glory streaming through.
What is holy water? Is it water blessed by a priest? Or is it possibly the water that some poor, overworked woman uses to keep the clothes of her children clean so that they can go to school in decency and have in their lives the things denied her? What is holy bread? Is it bread that has been on an altar over which words have been said and sung? Or is the holiest bread that which some man earns by hard labor that those for whom he cares may eat? There may be sacraments more genuine than any which men in long robes ever know.
Northwest Yearly Meeting Queries: The Individual and the Church
Are meetings for worship and business duly held, and are you regular in attending them? Do you come ready to commune with God and to fellowship with believers, willing to participate in contemplation or in spoken ministry?
As followers of Christ do you love and respect each other? Do patience and consideration govern your interactions; and when differences arise, do you resolve them promptly in a spirit of forgiveness and understanding? Are you careful with the reputation of others?
Do you give generous financial support to the work of Friends? Do you contribute regularly to the ministry of your church and to the wider outreach of the Yearly Meeting? Are you and your meeting aware of those likely to require material aid, and do you give freely to those in need?
Do you uphold the standards of Friends? Are you careful in appointing officers and Sunday school teachers, in calling pastors and special speakers, in sending out missionaries and recording ministers, to see that they are in harmony with the principles of Friends as stated in the Faith and Practice of Northwest Yearly Meeting?
Quakers in Britain
Do you try to set aside times of quiet for openness to the Holy Spirit? All of us need to find a way into silence which allows us to deepen our awareness of the divine and to find the inward source of our strength. Seek to know an inward stillness, even amid the activities of daily life. Do you encourage in yourself and in others a habit of dependence on God’s guidance for each day? Hold yourself and others in the Light, knowing that all are cherished by God.
Be aware of the spirit of God at work in the ordinary activities and experience of your daily life. Spiritual learning continues throughout life, and often in unexpected ways. There is inspiration to be found all around us, in the natural world, in the sciences and arts, in our work and friendships, in our sorrows as well as in our joys. Are you open to new light from whatever source it may come? Do you approach new ideas with discernment?
Do you welcome the diversity of culture, language and expressions of faith in our yearly meeting and in the world community of Friends? Seek to increase your understanding and to gain from this rich heritage and wide range of spiritual insights. Uphold your own and other yearly meetings in your prayers.
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