Report on Extended Meeting for Worship
Our Ministry and Oversight committee proposed that on the fifth Sunday of July, we hold meeting for worship from 9:30 a.m. until 12:00 noon, instead of our usual one hour from 11-12.
The first half hour was proposed to be Bible reading in the manner of Conservative Friends. (This was later expanded to include any holy writings.) One way it was explained was as a kind of guided meditation. As led by the Holy Spirit, a person could rise, name the book, chapter(s) and verse(s), and then simply read from the Scriptures without commentary. As it worked out, one Friend read from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, another from the Psalms, another from the Upanishads. It all felt well led.
The next two hours were simply open to waiting worship in our usual manner. It was clear in the announcement that it was okay to come later if one wanted, or to leave and come back if necessary. This allowed Friends who still wanted to just come for their regular hour of worship to come at the usual time. For me, I liked having two and a half hours. I noticed a sense of spaciousness in worship, an open feeling that was delightful. At the end, I still felt like it could have gone on longer.
In that length of time, I had the experience of feeling a nudge to vocal ministry but not the urgency, the worry about, “What time is it? Is the hour almost over? Will I get to say this before we’re done?” Instead I had plenty of time to listen to that nudge, to allow the message to become clearer, to hear what the message had to say to me personally, to consider whether it was still meant for the whole meeting, to sit with the presence of the Holy Spirit, and then to rise and deliver the whole message, when it felt ripe, without haste or confusion.
I also had the sense that this was a workman-like message. Not an earth-shaking, magical experience, but still good, basic craftmanship in vocal ministry. This is a new phase in my ministry lately – of recognizing work well done, yet calmer than has sometimes been the case in my nudges to vocal ministry.
The one thing I would do differently would be to prepare my children better. We had arranged for them to come in during the last 15 minutes rather than the first period. That was fine. But next time, I will ask the nursery worker to be sure that they have a snack before they come down to worship. Bored and hungry is not a good combination for children in meeting.
The next extended meeting for worship at SF Monthly Meeting will be September 30, 2007, at 9:30 am. All are welcome.
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