At Camas Friends Church, we’re reading through the journal of John Woolman, a Quaker minister and abolitionist from the 18th century. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the values we often unknowingly impress upon our children. Many of the activities we engage our children in have some kind of underlying “theology” or value-system they propose. By entering into these things, we enter into those narratives and are often shaped by them. We are not always aware of these invisible “forces,” that’s the nature of culture, nor would we necessarily be happy or ready to give them up if we realized this. Yet, many of these values and narratives we enter into are counter the narrative of the Gospels. Woolman found this to be true in his own time with the keeping of slaves. Many people engaged in these activities and practices without ever questioning the underlying stories were shaped by. Today I read through chapter four of his journal and was pleased to come across this letter he wrote to Quaker meetings in North Carolina, and his concern for the “dangerous snares” we often set for our children in this manner. Continue reading
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking at George Fox’s Chapel on my talk which was titled Tradition, Quakers and the Resurrection Community. I’ll post it here within the next day or so. In the talk I tell a little of my own story, discuss the idea of remix, and suggest that George Fox was a “DJ” in his own right, and that Quakers today might engage in a little resurrection remix of their own.
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. Continue reading
About a month ago we began a Wednesday evening meeting at Camas Friends (the Quaker meeting I pastor). The goal of these meetings are to build our friendships with each other (so we eat together before the class begins), as well as add to our being a learning community. The first book we decided to work through is a book on discernment and is called, Practicing Discernment Together by Lon Fendell, Jan Wood and Bruce Bishop. The book was written by three Quakers here in the Northwest and is a really useful guide and introduction to learning about the practice of discernment. While the book draws heavily on the experience and wisdom of the Quaker tradition, it is not an overly Quaker book in the sense that it is not bogged down with jargon or insider-speak. It would be beneficial for anyone interested in learning more about this topic. And it does seem that there is a growing interest in the Quaker practice of discernment. I have had a lot of people interested in knowing more about the way Quakers make decisions together without voting. Continue reading
The other evening I was fortunate enough to join some of our local unprogrammed Quaker friends in a meeting for worship. I needed and really appreciated the worship in silence. It is nice to be a Quaker pastor, who can show up and worship in a space where I do not have to be the pastor, nor do I have to listen to others try to be the pastor, or pay attention to all the “programmed” elements that make up for worship. It other words, sometimes it’s just really nice to sit and be. The a friend stood up and recited some of this poem by Quaker poet John Greenlead Whitter. It is called Eternal Goodness and the lines bolded were what she shared. It’s still ringing within me.
O friends! with whom my feet have trod
The quiet aisles of prayer,
Glad witness to your zeal for God
And love of man I bear.
I trace your lines of argument;
Your logic linked and strong
I weigh as one who dreads dissent,
And fears a doubt as wrong.
But still my human hands are weak
To hold your iron creeds;
Against the words ye bid me speak
My heart within me pleads.
Who fathoms the Eternal Thought?
Who talks of scheme and plan?
The Lord is God! He needeth not
The poor device of man. Continue reading
The Bible is, for better or for worse, one of the most influential documents in the history of the Western World. We sit here together in worship this morning largely because of the Bible. Many of us have grown up hearing the stories, memorizing the verses, and reading it in the privacy of our own homes. Many of us have turned to the Bible as a book of comfort in desperate times, have relied on its words to help us make sense of what to do with our lives, and have found within its pages the challenge to be transformed into more loving, peaceful, forgiving people.
Countless expressions and idioms in our culture today come from its pages. In an article, I read this week, about this year being the 400th anniversary of the KJV, the author pointed out numerous idioms we use in the English Language today (Can you Think of Any? Slide): “eat, drink and be merry,” “the apple of his eye,” “an eye for an eye,” “it came to pass,” “fight the good fight,” “can the leopard change his spots (Jer 13:23),” and of course “Am I my brother’s keeper.
But we also know that the Bible has been abused and misused often against Gods beloved creation that the Bible teaches us about. It’s too often only given slogans status, as is often the case at sports games and on bumper-stickers. It’s been used to justify atrocities that should never happen. And the recent Florida pastor burned one people’s holy book, the Koran, in the name of our holy book, the Bible. Continue reading
A couple weeks back we discussed how the resurrection community is a participatory community, that is that Jesus invited his disciples to bring some of their fish and add it to the pile that he brought. The work of the church is to be actively involved in participating in Gods ongoing work in the world: its not solely up to us, nor is it solely up to God. Active Christianity is about a partnership between the two. Similar to the way a newborn child enters into an already pre-established history of family life, we as Gods children enter into an already active community that has been part of Gods story for thousands of years. To say that we are a participatory community is to recognize that we each have a part to play in that ongoing story.
But how are we to actually practice this participation? How are we to think about it what it means to enter into that larger ongoing story, especially when many of us are new to even knowing what this story is at all? In the next few Sundays, I want to lay out some ways we might think about being participants, co-laborers in this already, ongoing, work, and how we might understand what our role is in that work. Continue reading