One Day Quaker Retreat
The CFC’s quarterly meetings usually start with a half hour or so of Bible reading in the manner of Conservative Friends followed by 2-3 hours of open waiting worship in the mornings. There was a good amount of vocal ministry which touched some people deeply. Alas, I never really centered in the worship.
After a brown bag lunch, there is a presentation and discussion in the afternoon. This time, two texts (1 Corinthians 14:26-33 and an excerpt from one of Fox’s epistles on church authority) were presented for discussion without much framing or context. I’m sorry, Friends, but I have to say the discussion felt anemic. Very much from our heads, mostly quibbling over the meanings in various translations. Which I like to do sometimes, but I think there could be so much more. I didn’t sense much interest in exploring the relevance of these texts to daily life as Christians. Attitudes ranged from politely tolerant to dismissive of newcomers’ participation.
At the end of the day there was planning for the next meeting and final worship. I did feel gathered into worship near the end, and I was led to read from my Bible: Matthew 7:15-22 and then 7:1-2. The passages are first, about knowing a tree by its fruit, and then about not judging lest ye be judged. Maybe it was mostly a message for me, but I also felt rightly led to share it.
On the whole, I feel disappointed. I’m still asking myself what is the point? I’m sure that the three hours I traveled in each direction to get there didn’t help my uncertainty. Is there some purpose to my participation that I’m not seeing? I feel like I ought to go to these gatherings but I don’t really want to anymore.
On the way home, I got to process my reaction a little bit with one of the long time participants in the group. He felt that the morning's worship had been very deep. I have no doubt that it was for some of the people there. However, at least one person was snoring and I felt uncalled, untouched by God. Just kind of twiddling my thumbs. For three hours. Sigh.
On our way home, we started talking about other possibilities for a gathering like this. This discussion may be the main fruit of the whole trip for me. I’m now thinking of organizing a one day Quaker retreat at our Meeting.
It would be on one of the upcoming fifth Sundays, since we already have extended worship planned for those days. So we’d have time to listen to God, time to act on God’s commandments, and time to talk about how we feel and what we learned from the experience, time to serve one another and to share food and drink with each other, and through all of this, an opportunity to spend more time together, in different modes of doing and being and learning.
Maybe it would look kind of like this:
9:30-12:00 waiting worship
12:00-1:00 announcements, lunch, social time
1:00-4:00 service project in the neighborhood (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, something like that)
4:00-5:00 communal dinner prep
5:00-8:00 dinner together with discussion of the day’s experiences
I’m thinking about March 30, specifically. This hasn’t been brought to Ministry and Oversight yet, but I have talked to a couple of key people. I am still open to suggestions for improvements and any advice on what or what not to do. I am also looking for suggestions for one time service work we could take on and discussion queries for the evening.
Have any of you tried anything like this in your Meetings?
Would you come if you lived in our area?
Especially, if you do live here, what do you think?
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