Awhile back I visited a nearby Quaker meeting with Robin and Chris while they were in town. It was my first experience in an unprogrammed meeting and I really appreciated my experience there and it got me thinking more about queries. One thing I have always loved about Quaker practice are the use of queries, which I’ve written about plenty before.
As I near the end of my series on the Lord’s Prayer I want to turn now to a small liturgy I’ve written that is based off the Lord’s Prayer and the conclusions I’ve arrived at through this series. This liturgy was made to help conceptualize in a communal setting ways in which, we the church can embody the practices and politics of Jesus.” We have said this in our small group as part of our prayer together, it is meant to fit your context, so if you do decide to download it and use it feel free to adjust any of the parts that don’t fit your context.
I’d like to frame the next group of featured” posts that will be showing up here on gathering in light. I will be continuing to post my thoughts on the Lord’s Prayer, and how it can and should be used as a missional discipleship tool in churches from Anabaptist and Quaker, to emerging and missional, to Orthodox and Catholic (and everyone in between) churches. The main points of thinking that will be presented here is: how the Lord’s Prayer ought to be something practiced by all Christians on an ongoing basis, comparisons between the Qaddish, an early Jewish Prayer, and the Lord’s Prayer, as well as thoughts on each of the petitions and how they should inform the church’s overall missional engagement with the surrounding culture. I am posting these thoughts in about 800 words, in hopes to spread out the conversation and encourage dialogue.
So I have to consider that I am at times hard on myself, while at other times way too easy. But in either case my last post about silence might have been a bit modernistic. It was as though to say that reading, listening to music, and participating in other daily routines are not in themselves spiritual possibilities, even sacraments – depending on what they are and why they are done.
And so I found a picture of winter and silence. I read a book. I listened to Dylan. I rode my Bike. I typed a blog. I sipped a cup of tea. I sat quickly and thought about the world at Christmas time. I spent some time with friends.
It really easy to find God in “that thing over there!” It is as though I say to myself “That one thing I cannot do and so I am excused from the kind of life that requires obedience, don’t you know. So Leave me alone with these expectations.”
Avoidance can be a really good excuse when it comes to spirituality. And so can the “lack of time” that so many of us seem to experience. But then after thinking about this more we have to come to grips with the reality that life only seems to perpetuate this lack of space for God. If this is so we have to main goals for a life of the Spirit.1. We need to make space for those activities that only can be done within the community of faith, or can only be done with God in the stillness of a quiet room.
2. We also need to get creative and figure out how we can make those everyday things – things that are meaningful. How we can make art out of something mundane – art not just for art’s sake (though this is meaningful also) but for the sake of finding the creator through doing activties of participatory worship, sacrmental living, etc. Thus we have the “church of art” below.
The church has for a long time lacked creativity, I must say that Quakers have even further to go before they catch up with the already-far-behind Protestants. To attack one’s own spiritual life because it doesn’t fit into certain molds of piety is not the way to go about finding in roads to God.
Rather we need to be schooled again in creativity – we need to find God in the novels, the movies, indie and folk music (all other types are must be void), the riding to and fro, the listening, and the silence.
There is a balance of both. We have gone too far to the one side. It is either “do it this way or don’t do it at all.” This is no longer a fight to be battled in the postmodern world, which blends all worlds together, in hopes of finding something meaningful in the process. The journey becomes important, the doing, not so much the goal. The “purpose”is only second to the “life” that is apparent. Life, love, discoveries, courage, creativity, and longsuffering become important virtues for today’s humanity.
And so this is where we are at, the middle of two crossroads searching for a discovery of God.