Describing “Silent” Worship to Children

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Race Street Meetinghouse

Awhile back I did a Godly Play story during our meeting for worship. We invited the children to say with the adults and participate in our listening to the story. After the story we had our normal 15 minutes of silent, or waiting, worship. This is a description I wrote up and used that Sunday. I borrowed some ideas from my friend Chad Stephenson who is the librarian at the San Francisco Friends School where their students have meeting for worship during the school day.

Mind you this is just one attempt and there are things missing from here that I would like to say. I tried to connect it to the language of Godly Play since that’s what our kids are most used to. In trying to write up a description I was challenged to be concrete, simple and succinct in describing worship to our children. It is a good exercise for all of us to try.
Continue reading Describing “Silent” Worship to Children

Thoughts on Bringing Children To Worship

Children in Worship

As parents bringing children and teens to a time of worship can be a struggle. We place a lot of expectations on our kids and often hope they won’t “misbehave” during church. Plus, it is easy to succumb to their rowdiness, distraction and desire for entertainment. The last thing on earth most parents seem to want to hear from their kids is “I am bored.” The response often tends to turn our time of gathered worship into an opportunity to have free babysitting or shuffle them away to some place else, entertain them, or even give them a gadget that will hold their attention. Continue reading Thoughts on Bringing Children To Worship

Clerical Oppressors – John Greenleaf Whittier (Poem)

JUST God! and these are they
Who minister at thine altar, God of Right!
Men who their hands with prayer and blessing lay
On Israel’s Ark of light!

What! preach, and kidnap men?
Give thanks, and rob thy own afflicted poor?
Talk of thy glorious liberty, and then
Bolt hard the captive’s door?

What! servants of thy own
Merciful Son, who came to seek and save
The homeless and the outcast, fettering down
The tasked and plundered slave!

Pilate and Herod, friends!
Chief priests and rulers, as of old, combine!
Just God and holy! is that church, which lends
Strength to the spoiler, thine?

Paid hypocrites, who turn
Judgment aside, and rob the Holy Book
Of those high words of truth which search and burn
In warning and rebuke;

Feed fat, ye locusts, feed!
And, in your tasselled pulpits, thank the Lord
That, from the toiling bondman’s utter need,
Ye pile your own full board.

How long, O Lord! how long
Shall such a priesthood barter truth away,
And in Thy name, for robbery and wrong
At Thy own altars pray? Continue reading Clerical Oppressors – John Greenleaf Whittier (Poem)

Quaker Bankers, Tithes and a Chocolate Factory (Matt 10:8)

This is the message I gave on Sunday morning October 19, 2012. You can listen to the audio version of it here.

Last week we started to tackle the difficult subject of money and the church at Camas Friends. We discussed some possible ways of approaching the subject in a holistic manner — as caretakers or curators of all that has been entrusted to us. And then we discussed some of the ways we might think about the “practice of giving” as people who follow Jesus.

As I’ve been considering these questions, I couldn’t help but wonder if Friends have always wrestled with these questions, and how they have thought about it in the past. But with many of the Quakers we’ve been learning about in our Wednesday evening Soup and Bread meetings – there have been were successful bankers and business people a part of our tradition almost from the very beginning. Today’s ethos among Quakers – and I think this is reflective of all stripes – is one that often avoid discussions of money altogether. But from a historical point of view it hasn’t always been this way. Continue reading Quaker Bankers, Tithes and a Chocolate Factory (Matt 10:8)

Thinking Quakers, Money and Stewardship

A couple months back I started feeling the tug to wrestle with the topic of money in the church. As a preacher, I’ve largely avoided the topic like the plague. These are the kinds of things I nightmares about. I was a budding and impressionable young man when PTL when bankrupt and Jim Baker headed off to jail. In fact, truth be-told, my family had a membership to the resort for at least one year because I remember going there for a vacation! I know standing up to talk about money creates anxiety for people. Probably most of us know what it’s like to have been made to feel guilty about not giving enough. We all know the characters on TV, many of us have grown weary with the church and all its hypocrisy around money. Continue reading Thinking Quakers, Money and Stewardship

Occupy and Convergent Friends

A couple of years ago I had an article published in the Quaker Studies periodical called “Convergent Friends: The Emergence of Postmodern Quakerism” that attempted to identify some of the features of convergent Friends.

Convergent Friends is a hybrid Quakerism that attempts draw together the best parts of the Quaker tradition without feeling the limitations of the plethora of binaries available within our tradition: unprogrammed/unprogrammed, bible/experience, contemplation/action, belief/practice, etc (p. 242). Further, convergent Friends are decentralized, and grassroots. The central characteristic of this group is building relationships with others, listening to one another’s stories, and sharing worship together (different styles and in different places) as a means to embodying Quakerism wherever they are. Convergent Friends is fully participatory. The cross-section between tradition and culture is the roots of this conversation: tradition is the only grounds for renewal (and innovation). Continue reading Occupy and Convergent Friends

On Integrity: Mirrors, Ships and Living Truthfully (James 1:19-27)

This was the message I gave during our meeting for worship at Camas Friends this past Sunday.

James 1:22   But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 25 But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing. 

Mirrors and Self-Examination_

Integrity is about rightly seeing what it is that we reflect in the world, it is about owning up to the image we portray of ourselves, and of others. It is about not just knowing truth, but living it.

James 1 never uses the word integrity, but it does use the image of a mirror so we get the idea that people who hear and do God’s word reflect or should expect to see something in the mirror.

So you use a mirror maybe to check to make sure you don’t have anything like asparagus stuck in your teeth right? What would you think of me if I looked, started to walk away, forgot whether I had food in my teeth, walked back to look again, walked away, maybe I forgot again, and on the cycle goes. Continue reading On Integrity: Mirrors, Ships and Living Truthfully (James 1:19-27)