SOMETIMES IMAGES SPEAK MORE EFFECTIVELY THAN WORDS. This image is the ministry of Melanie Weidner’s newest piece created for the troubled times we find ourselves in. It speaks into my heart as I hope it will into yours. Continue reading
By Jan Wood
THE GOOD NEWS ASSOCIATES are used to scheduling commitments, retreats, and events for months and years ahead. And we — like you — have lived into this strange state of suspended animation during the COVID crisis. All of our lives, schedules and plans have been upended. We are living in the unknown. Continue reading
THERE IS A REFRAIN FROM AN OLD HYMN, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” that rings in my ears these days:
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is shifting sand.
All other ground is shifting sand.
We are in the midst of a massive national — and global — shock. A few weeks ago our worlds had the contours of normalcy. It felt like our lives have been turned upside down overnight. Our normal expectations that we live our lives by have been swept away in a tidal wave of change. Life and death are suddenly front and center of our consciousness. Our carefully balanced finances have been thrown into disarray. The ability to gather with folks you love in times of trouble has been erased. Uncertainty is the only certainty about the future. Continue reading
By Jan Wood
I HAVE HAD GOD OPEN MY EYES to new awareness that led to change many times. In fact, I count on that grace in my life! Perhaps the most iconic opening came years ago…
My sense of myself at that time was that I was a generous, happy, nice person. I considered myself kind and compassionate. I was hurt and dismissive of any feedback that might challenge those notions. But one day God’s Spirit started moving in my mind and heart. While I went about the normal activities of my day, there was a profound inward experience unfolding. I was shown all the ways that my words, phrases, and jokes reflected a deep space of envy and bitterness inside of me. I could hear the phrases that popped out of my mouth without my hearing or examining them. This dredging up of thoughts, words and actions that I had been blind to continued throughout the day. I was horrified! How could I be that kind of person? It was around 4 o’clock in the afternoon when I finally blurted out in anguish to God, “Oh God, I don’t want to be this way!” And to my surprise that inward voice of God answered in such a gentle and kindly tone. “I know, Jan. That is why we are talking about it.” I melted into the kindness of God’s gentle forgiveness and healing. That kindness moved me from seeing and feeling guilty to authentic and joyful change in my being and in my relationships with others. Continue reading
Eden Grace, Emily Provance, Dorcas Otieno Nick, and John Grace Losike (left to right). Friends United Meeting delegates to the World Council of Churches’ 2018 Conference on World Mission, Arusha, Tanzania.
IT IS A JOY TO ANNOUNCE that Emily Provance has joined Good News Associates! As one of the Associates, she joins a team of collaborative ministry entrepreneurs. Each of us is following our call and leadings that have taken us out of institutional and financial security. Together we are a container for ministry support, necessary resources and creative synergy.
Emily joins us as a well-known Friend from 15th Street Meeting in New York City. She has many gifts and interests, but they coalesce around her passion to create the conditions among Friends that makes it possible for Quakers to be a to be a joyful and empowered people who are faithfully ministering to the world.
Here is one glimpse into the texture of her call. . . .
By Jan Wood
I love the depictions of the nativity scene throughout the centuries. I can sit with a painting and be drawn into the emotions of that first revelation that God was doing something special. I feel my body bending near and am aware that the posture of Christmas is to be on bended knee.
We Americans have cultivated and admire the postures of standing tall and erect, of striding through life humbled by nothing, stiff-necked and proud. Our broken human nature always tempts us to think we are our own god. That we are the masters of our fate. That we can be anything we want if we try hard enough. Americans have cultivated the myth of being #1 like a religious conviction. We can do no wrong. We have nothing to learn from other nations or peoples. What we do and think is automatically right and the best. We have honed our narcissistic arrogance like a finely tuned instrument. We bow to no one. We even expect God to bless our greatness. Continue reading
One of the gifts of Quakers to the wider Christian community is the understanding that God is present and active in the midst of human affairs. In simple terms God, who loves us, delights to partner with each of us in all facets of our lives.
This is not a static relationship with God being in control and our job being to find the right path so everything works out all right. Rather it is an amazing dynamic relationship with God who journeys with us while honoring our free will and unique individuality. This is God who is fully aware of our glory and our brokenness; who is not flummoxed when we blow it; who is honored by our courageous trust to be fully human. Continue reading
God loves–and yearns for restoration–for our broken world. But God is a realist. God is not caught by surprise when people, relationships, cultures and nations turn their backs on their Divine Purpose and become misshapen. They become a sad shadow of what they could be. At best this estrangement from one’s purpose is a painful loss; at worst it becomes diabolically destructive.
Many of us are finding ourselves bewildered and disoriented in these present times. Things are becoming grotesquely misarranged. Basic building blocks of commonality are being destroyed with intentionality. Logic and facts are no longer the common currency of our working together. Compassion and goodness are considered weak and unnecessary. Truth is totally irrelevant. Might makes right. Creating fear is both a method and a joy. Wealth is the new form of godliness. Continue reading
Two years ago, Christine Hall’s anchor committee was mulling over how to raise the additional necessary funds for the Way of the Spirit program. As is the Quaker custom, the group went into silence to Listen to how Spirit might lead. Suddenly, Jim Hall—Chris’ husband—enthusiastically exclaimed, “I’ve got it! I love to make soap. I can make soap to sell as a fund raiser.”
The idea felt clear and the first batch of Inner Light soap was distributed last Christmas season. It was a hit. The soap is wonderful—especially for dry skin. It is organic and good for you and the environment. It has a delightful scent. And it supports a wonder-filled spiritual formation program. Continue reading
by Jan Wood
In the community of faith of my childhood, it was very clear that once a person committed his/her life to Christ she needed to be about the business of ministry. And since I made the decision to follow Jesus at the age of four, I’ve had a lot of time to observe stages of ministry in my own life.
Journey from fear to anticipation
The first model I saw and tried to imitate was the necessity of winning everyone for Christ. It necessitated that I tell folks about Jesus and encourage them to make a decision–right there and then. So by junior high school I was living a daily life of fear of what inappropriate conversation I would have to create that day to fulfill this great commandment. In my earnest youthful spirit, the ideas of what God was calling me to do got increasingly bizarre. While the church praised my zealousness, I am deeply grateful for God’s good sense that showed me this was not the way to be God’s person in the world. Continue reading