This is a snapshot of what I’ll be speaking about next Monday at George Fox University’s chapel.
You Israelites, and others who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it (Acts 13).
I did not grow up a Quaker. I grew up in a church that was non-denominational, but that translated into more of a feeling of anti-any tradition at all. Everything changed for me when I attended, unknown to me, a Friends college in the Midwest. In a critical moment for me I went from losing my way to finding myself a part of a much bigger story. The Quaker story is an alternative Christian story. When Quakers first hit the streets of England in the 17th century it was with a prophetic fire that has since turned the world upside down. The Quaker story is one that finds its roots in a different way of living and being in the world than I was used to and it was (and still is) compelling to me.
In Acts 13 Paul tells of a similar story. Paul is hitting the streets with a new, prophetic message about this Jesus of Nazareth. It is an alternative story to the one people expected back then, centered on love and the radical embodiment of truth. Paul stands in front of his people a re-reads their Jewish tradition in light of something spectacularly new, the resurrection of Jesus. And this re-reading of their tradition not only redeems their past but shows that an alternative way has opened up. This new way is one that is universal in scope and one he and Barnabas set out to tell the masses about.
The Quaker church finds its beginning and end in not just the belief, but the practice of resurrection. To find ourselves a part of this larger tradition, such that Quakerism offers, is a powerful alternative story for today and roots us into something other than ourselves. This is a tradition that stands in the prophetic stream of the Biblical story because it calls us back not to a profession of faith but to a possession of it, a deep participation in the unfolding of Gods work in the world. To become apprentices of the Quaker tradition is to enter into a narrative that is a fully participative space and not just encounter the resurrected Lord, but to practice it for ourselves.
- What has been you spiritual journey thus far into college? Where has there been movement, where have you faced changed, even crisis?
- Where have you experienced resurrection in your life and around you?
- What has been your understanding of tradition and the communities of those traditions? How might a re-reading of that tradition, the way Paul does in Acts 13, might bring new life to your understanding and interaction with that tradition?