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New Essay on The Speed of Group Discernment

View at Medium.com

I’ve posted a longer essay on the process of group discernment and some of the things that help move group discernment forward and some of the things that get in the way and keep it from moving along smoothly. This essay is over on my medium blog.

Here is an excerpt:

…When it comes down to thinking about a way forward on a decision, people are expected to distinguish between “principle and preference.”

During a meeting for business the clerk would often remind Friends to consider whether the concerns they were raising were a matter of preference or principle. This is not always easy to do and requires a good amount of ego work. But when I am honest with myself, when I have the good of the community at the forefront of my mind, then I am usually able to adjudicate between the two.

I know difference between saying something like, “We can’t stop doing that, that’s my favorite…” and, “If we did that it would radically change the nature of how we interact with that community and we made a commitment to them when we…” One is rooted in a narrative where my wants and desires and I am the center, the other is rooted in a narrative where our community’s needs or another community’s needs or God’s own calling is at the center.

Usually, in a community that cares for one another, when someone shares a preference, the rest know so, and are able to address it gently, sometimes in that Meeting, sometimes in other, appropriate settings. The same is true for principle. I have been in meetings where I have heard someone share a matter of principle that went against what I wanted. As I reflected on what the Friend said, I realized that what I wanted was a preference that did not rise to the level of a principle and so I needed to step back; I came to a place where I was able to say, “At the end of the day, if I am being honest with myself, this is only my preference and therefore I am able to let it go.

View at Medium.com

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Sermons

Advent 2: Entering Mystery: From Wilderness to Forgiveness

This is the Message I gave to New Garden Friends Meeting on December 10, 2017.

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:1-8)

The Sterile and “Certainty” Modern Life

Here is a track from Radiohead’s “OK Computer,” not typcially a song played during advent, but as we go on through this message my hope is you will begin to see how it is related.

Fitter happier
More productive
Comfortable
Not drinking too much
Regular exercise at the gym (3 days a week)
Getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries
At ease
Eating well (no more microwave dinners and saturated fats)
A patient, better driver
A safer car (baby smiling in back seat)
Sleeping well (no bad dreams)
No paranoia
Careful to all animals (never washing spiders down the plughole)
Keep in contact with old friends (enjoy a drink now and then)
Will frequently check credit at (moral) bank (hole in the wall)
Favours for favours
Fond but not in love
Charity standing orders
On Sundays ring road supermarket
(No killing moths or putting boiling water on the ants)
Car wash (also on Sundays)
No longer afraid of the dark or midday shadows
Nothing so ridiculously teenage and desperate
Nothing so childish
At a better pace
Slower and more calculated
No chance of escape
Now self-employed
Concerned (but powerless)
An empowered and informed member of society (pragmatism not idealism)
Will not cry in public
Less chance of illness…