Sunday, March 01, 2009

blogging during meeting in meeting I think I pretty much spent the entire time writing amazing blog posts in my head. Perhaps this was not a good use of my (or the meeting's) time, but now I cannot remember one single thing I was thinking about. It's a little sad. I'm sure they were wonderful.

Oh! I remember something.

Because I was noticing myself writing blog posts in my head instead of paying attention to God and/or centering or whatever you want to call it, I started thinking about how I wasn't expecting anything to happen in that hour. I started thinking about how I really have begun to enjoy that community of people, but pretty much it seems like for a lot of people the hour of meeting is sort of obligatory, before the time to hang out with people over tasty snacks. Or else it's an hour of solace in a crazy week, and there is plenty of time during announcements at the end of meeting to slip out the back without having to talk to anyone.

But what is the point of coming to meeting each week? Is it just to hang out with people afterwards? Is it just to be still for a while? These things are good: I love the stillness and I love the people who have become a community here. But isn't there something more? Why do we come to the Meetinghouse for our silence--why not just stay home? Or why not just join some group with similar interests--say a peace group of some sort--and socialize with them? What about listening together, what about doing the hard work of discernment as to what we're called to do, here and now, in this community, to make life look more like the Kingdom of God for those around us?

How do we break out of our self-imposed liturgy of stillness?

I'm just as guilty as anyone else--we're totally not involved in anything the meeting does besides a couple hours on Sunday morning. So maybe I'm only speaking of myself. But I think not. (And this doesn't just go for unprogrammed Friends, although that is the community I'm in right now.)

Well, that was depressing. I hope you have a nice evening!


Anonymous said...

My evening was nice until I read your blog! No, seriously, I appreciate it and agree to some extent. I guess I like Christ-centered programmed meetings because the focus is more on Christ's teachings as they relate to us than on our own relationship with others and organizations while failing to emphasize the work of Jesus personally. I think we move toward breaking out of our self-imposed liturgy of stillness by breaking the silence with the message of Christ's love, forgiveness and centrality in our lives--a message received personally and spoken outloud when Jesus tells us to. Love you!

Gr. Ralph

Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) said...

This reminds me of something I quoted a little bit of to Liz Opp yesterday — but I think I should quote more of it here, because more of it is relevant here —

"When you come to your meetings ... what do you do? Do you then gather together bodily only, and kindle a fire, compassing yourselves about with the sparks of your own kindling, and so please yourselves, and walk in the 'Light of your own fire and the sparks which you have kindled'...? Isa. 1:11: Or rather, do you sit down in True Silence, resting from your own Will and Workings, and waiting upon the Lord, fixed with your minds in that Light wherewith Christ has enlightened you, until the Lord breathes life in you, refresheth you, and prepares you ... that you may offer unto him a pure and spiritual sacrifice?"

That was William Penn, in a 1677 essay titled A tender Visitation, in the love of God that overcometh the world....

For me, it shows that every generation of Friends has struggled with the same deadness of worship you describe in your first three paragraphs — but also that there is a way of out that mire!

Chris M. said...

Maybe a house church with a blend of semi-programmed worship and silent worship would be a place to experiment with trying to answer those queries you've uncovered.

(Sorry, I'm catching up on your blog in reverse order, via Bloglines, so I already read the piece about moving to Oregon. :)