By Christine Hall, Director of Way of the Spirit
Spiritual retreats are powerful opportunities to cultivate our best intentions for a life of faith, and help to grow the kind of courage needed to act as led by the Spirit.
Strengthen our best intentions
Retreats are all about intention—where you are aiming, or your sense of purpose. To be clear, intentions are not the same as New Years resolutions. Most of those well-meant goals fade after six weeks or so of challenges and weakening willpower. Intentions do something different inside us. They orient us through trial and error, both success and failure. They help convert an inner sense of Divine guidance into determined action. Continue reading
Dreams have often been important to my spiritual life, giving me strong images that allow me to speak of the work of God in my life. I was glad to learn that there are many reports of dreams or visions in the journals of Friends who traveled in the ministry. Such prominent friends as Mary Penington and John Woolman reported on dreams/visions in their memoirs, rarely distinguishing between the two and not always commenting on the meanings they see. In the earliest years, visions and dreams were seen as prophetic, carrying weight similar to the biblical prophets. That understanding faded as the century progressed, but was never totally lost at least into the 19th century. 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
When I lived near Media, Pennsylvania, I joined a Gospel choir. We practiced for several weeks, did a concert in a local church, and then dissolved until the next year. It was joyful and packed full of praise. Gospel is a distinctive genre of music — sung unaccompanied, with a call and response style, and hand clapping the rhythm.
I was energized by the experience of getting to know people from other faith communities, and by learning a new way to make music. But I was also stressed. I had to unlearn so much that my body knew: a different rhythm and downbeat, and different harmonies. Continue reading
by Marge Abbott
“Friends, whatever you are addicted to, the Tempter will come in that thing. When he can trouble you, then he gets advantage over you, and then you are gone. Stand still in that which is pure, after you see yourselves; and then mercy comes in. After you see your thoughts, and the temptations, do not think, but submit. Then the Power comes. Stand still in that which shows and discovers; and there does strength immediately come. Stand still in the light, and submit to it, and the other will be hushed and gone. Then contentment comes. When temptations and troubles appear, sink down in that which is pure, and all will be hushed and will fly away. Your strength is to stand still, after you see yourselves. Continue reading
Our First Experience in Traveling in Ministry
Al and Sheri Hendrix
Some time ago my wife and I were led to begin traveling among other congregations (Quakers use the term Meeting rather than congregation) within our denomination. This is certainly not a new idea among Quakers. Visiting ministers with a variety of messages have been traveling from Meeting to Meeting since the very beginning, delivering their intended messages, sharing news, doing church business, hosting training opportunities, and in general carrying on the business necessary to grow and maintain the health and connections that sustain the various parts of our faith.
by Jan Wood
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
by Marge Abbott
As I’ve been working on my latest book which considers the ways in which Friends experience and talk about prophetic ministry today, numerous Friends have shared their perspectives. Esther Mombo of Kenya and the late Moses Bigirimana of Burundi both attended the 2012 World Conference of Friends in Kenya where I had the opportunity to speak at length about the nature of prophetic ministry. Moses, unfortunately, died in a motorcycle crash a few months later. What follows is a taste of these two extended conversations.
To Be Humble Enough to Step Down
Esther Mombo, of Highlands Yearly Meeting, has spoken often with a strong clear prophetic voice and was the main plenary speaker at the World Conference representing African Friends. When asked about the nature of prophetic ministry, she emphasized the importance of being willing to test a call to ministry or leadership on an ongoing basis. We each must be aware of when it is appropriate say, “no, it is not from God for me to do this.” She went on to expand on this: Continue reading
by Lon Fendall
The first time I heard this phrase was in a Good News Associates meeting recently. The GNA director, Jan Wood, used the phrase in response to my report about being involved with some projects in rural Haiti. Jan said something to the effect of, “Whatever you help with in Haiti, make sure it results in “assertive and visible goodness.” I said I agreed with that goal, but then later wondered if I even understood what the phrase meant in that context.
The next day while the GNA Associates were talking about something entirely different, Jan said we needed to be sure we as followers of Christ set our eyes on assertive and visible goodness. Again, that seemed like a good outcome, but I still wondered what Jan might have meant by it. So I asked her later if she had gotten the phrase from someone else or if she coined it herself. It was the latter, she said. She is a person who prays a lot and in the process hears a lot back from God, so I set about to think about the phrase as an important outcome of a proposed project in Southern Haiti. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, my seminary classmate Kenya asked if I would lead a workshop on prayer practices for the Episcopal Road Fellows, a group of young adults working for social justice in Atlanta. Kenya and I are excited about the workshop, which will involve prayers using the body and creativity, such as doodle prayer, coloring mandalas, walking a labyrinth, and a breathing prayer. I will also introduce the Quaker practice of holding people in the Light. My hope is that they will try out new practices they can incorporate into their daily life. Continue reading