Meetings like the one this morning are times I feel particularly grateful to be a Quaker. First of all, it snowed a little last night, so coming into a cozy meetinghouse with a crackling fire, looking out at the snow and around at Friends, is a special treat.
Today it seemed like the ministry in meeting centered around hope and expectation in this new season in our government that will begin on Tuesday. The first person to share talked about some historical data on Champlain and William Penn, visionaries in the "New World," wanting to make space for a more just society. Then someone who said she'd never been to a Quaker meeting before came today because she was disturbed about the situation in Gaza, particularly the bombing of a UN storage facility in Gaza that held a bunch of food, medicine, etc., and how it wasn't being reported in our media because an airplane crashed and everyone was OK. From there several people shared about their hopes in the next days and years based on the new presidential administration. It was really cool to see how this all fit together, and how everyone's voices together made the whole picture make sense. One of the voices alone didn't tell the whole story, but we needed one another's voices and sense of listening to hear the whole message. It's so amazing when that happens!
I felt led to share about how although I'm hopeful about the new administration, I also think we can't just pin our hopes on anyone, even a (hopefully good) president. We as Friends did away with pastors (or in pastoral meetings we did away with a privileged position for pastors) because we don't think it's right to pay someone to do our spiritual work for us. I think the political system is similar. We can't just elect people and expect them to do all the work of bringing justice into the world through love. The government will never do that. That can only happen through the work of the Spirit in the world. It can happen through individuals working in the government, but it won't happen through any governmental system per se. Hopefully our government can see beyond the law in order to work for true justice for all.
But it is also our job to work for justice through love. We can't relegate that job to someone else, put our hopes in what another person can do to fix the world, or woe our helplessness to change anything. (I'm preaching to myself here, too!) We have to trust that the Spirit works through us, whether we are powerful world leaders or not. No one else can do our part, and our part is important: listen to and follow the Spirit in our own lives, wherever it leads.
Someone else in meeting then shared about following the still small voice that calls us to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God, even when it feels like what we can do is pitifully small. We just must trust that this is what we are called to do, and do it ourselves with God as our leading light.
So hopefully the political situation begins to change for the better, but this administration and Congress have their work cut out for them, and there is only so much they can do within the constraints of the political system. The rest is up to us.