Send down the fire of your justiceSend down the rains of your loveSend down your Spirit, breathe life in your peopleMake us the people of God
I have spent a lot of time over the past five years traveling among Friends, both in person and online. I have been to evangelical, liberal, and conservative yearly meetings. I have worshiped with Friends in meetinghouses and churches from Alaska to Nairobi. I have read posts by Friends who are as close to me as family and by others who I have never met, but who I know to be kindred spirits.
All of this travel among Friends has been a privilege and a blessing. It has also given me a vantage point on the Religious Society of Friends that I think is unusual. I was reminded of that yesterday when I saw two posts online by Friends.
The first was by Becky A, who is currently serving as superintendent of Northwest Yearly Meeting. In her post, On Our Way Rejoicing
, Becky wondered what it is that Friends do together that is so worthwhile. She proposed the following statement:
The NWYM of Friends churches are compelled to share the good news that Jesus Christ is alive and present today to teach us himself; that we identify ourselves as Friends of Jesus when we do what Jesus tells us to do individually and corporately; and that this Friendship is open to all.The second post was by Cat C-B, entitled An Open Letter to my Christian Quaker Friends: Part 1 of 2
. In her post, Cat said,
. . .the same spiritual integrity that made me show up and keep showing up for Quaker meetings--because I was called, and I knew it--has also kept me loyal to and part of the Pagan community that formed for me a soul capable of hearing a spiritual call in the first place. For someone looking in from the outside, it might seem impossible that these people are part of the same religious society. But I know better. I have followed the ministry of both of these women for years, and I can attest that they are both faithful Friends.
It is hard for me, when I travel among Friends, to hear the ways that some Friends fear other Friends. I wish all of you could see what I see.
We are all working so hard to be faithful. We are trying to listen to the voice of the Spirit, however we name that divine presence. Friends are also making a valiant effort to listen to each other across our differences, but we sometimes end up hurting each other, often through misunderstandings of the language we use.
Whenever I am with Friends, regardless of the kind of Friends, there is always a moment when I have the clear sense that these are my people
. It is not always the same—sometimes that feeling comes in open worship, other times in prayer, singing, or individual conversations. Regardless of how it happens, I know then that these are Friends who are committed to each other and to listening to the voice of the Spirit together.
But now I am preparing to leave my Quaker bubble. In just over a month, I will be moving to Atlanta to be a part of a different faith community: my class at Candler School of Theology
, a Methodist seminary.
When I was coming back from the World Conference of Friends
last year, I had a fairly long layover in the London airport. There were several Friends around, and I ran into them a few times. I was sitting on my own in one of the lounge areas, when I heard a clear message:Go to the chapel to be with your people.
I shrugged and said, okay—it wasn't like I was doing anything. I had spent time in the chapel during my layover on the way to Kenya, so I knew where it was. I had the vague idea that I might find some other Friends in there and we could have a final meeting for worship.
But that's not who was there.
When I went into the chapel and settled into prayer, the people who joined me were: Hasidic Jews, wrapping tefillin. Muslims praying toward Mecca. A young Catholic woman making her way through the Rosary.
Quakers are my people. And those are my people. We are the people of God.