Newberg Travelogue, continued

For the story of Saturday, July 8, 2006, read my earlier post A Convergent Travelogue.

On Sunday, July 9, 2006, we finally did what we set out to do: We worshipped with Friends in Newberg. We actually went to two meetings for worship, as I will persist in calling them. Here is a picture of us in front of their steeplehouse. (Silas is hiding behind the sign.)

It was definitely a programmed meeting, with a printed program, including all the words to all the songs. But compared to other Protestant or Roman Catholic services I’ve been to, it was quite simple.

There were a few songs – low key, contemporary Christian music. I will say I don’t think I’ve ever seen an accordion in a “worship band” before, but then I don’t get out much and it sounded good with the piano, guitar and vocalists. (We also have a fine accordion player in our home Meeting who plays at our Meeting retreat and other occasions, so I wasn’t too shocked.)

I thought it was interesting that they passed the collection plate pretty close to the beginning. No big drama, just got it out of the way. A message from the pastor (which you can read here on his blog), a couple more songs, 15 minutes of open worship and a final song. I think anyone from my Meeting could have gone and felt reasonably comfortable. Yes, there’s a basic assumption that everyone present is interested in what God and Jesus might have to say on the subject, but not in a harsh, pushy or loud way.

NFC has been reading the book of Micah together this month, and considering it both in Sunday worship and their small groups. Lucky for us, the text for today’s sermon was Micah 6:8, “What does the Lord require of you?” It’s popular, it’s fun – it allowed Gregg to speak about holding the strands of Quakerism together – doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. We sat up in the balcony with Aj and Jason and Kathy in our first meeting for worship (NFC’s second service of the day). We could see Marta and her husband down below. Marta came up and introduced herself afterwards – I was so glad!

In the first meeting that we went to, Silas and Henry sat with us. At some point, Silas wanted to go out and I kept stalling him to try to finish hearing the sermon. When I couldn’t take it anymore and tried to rush him out, he balked and refused to go with me; instead going to sit on Daddy’s lap. For a few minutes, I just sat on the stairs and prayed that I might feel more loving mercy toward my children. After a while, Chris took Silas out and I moved back to sit next to Henry who was having a fine time doing the puzzles in the children’s activity sheets. (I think they have the same ones at the Presbyterian church by our house.)

Before our second meeting for worship (NFC’s third service of the morning), Kathy took us down to the children’s area where the teacher kindly made an exception to the rules of their Godly Play class and let both our boys stay together. (Silas was technically too young, but I think he did okay.) Afterwards, we heard from the teacher that she told the parable of the mustard seed. Silas showed us his clay thing that he made in the response time. Henry showed us his pictures of heaven and hell, in significant detail. The teacher said gently she didn’t really see the connection but that was what he decided to draw. Just goes to show you. It’s the kid who comes from the liberal unprogrammed meeting who wants to draw graphic depictions of heaven and hell, God and angels on one side, Satan and demons on the other side. I think the teacher wanted us to know that wasn’t what she had been teaching our kids. Still, she thanked Henry for coming and for his creative contributions. I will have to ask Henry what inspired him to draw the pictures. Other than our guys, the class was mostly older girls. Thank goodness the teacher was a good sport.

After the second meeting, we went up to thank Gregg for his hospitality and his ministry. He was very busy that day, and I’m sure it’s difficult to preach faithfully three times in a row on the same topic.

As we were walking away, I had a crazy moment and I told Chris that I was very conscious that we hadn’t met anyone who wouldn’t be so happy to meet us. But we didn’t really know who that might be. I also didn't want to put the people who had been so gracious to us in any kind of awkward position.

We picked up our children and met Kathy outside to make a plan for lunch. We went to a nice Mexican restaurant with a couple of other families and their teenaged children. Dan McCracken even joined us for a short while. Kathy, Dan and I had a brief period of discussing blogging as a writing discipline and the QuakerQuaker.org site as an easy portal to great Quaker blogging. Again – another day of putting faces and voices to names and words. So cool.

Also at lunch, I remembered to offer people a small gift that I had brought: buttons that simply say “Another Quaker for Peace.” My good Friend John had brought lots of them to the FGC Gathering and I asked if I could have some to take to Newberg, so he gave me a whole bag. I had given some to Gregg, Aj and Johan (and families) the day before. Today, I was pleased that the teenagers at the table, and their parents, were happy to have them. A small sign of something else that Friends have in common.

For more explanations of programmed Friends worship, read the comments on Rob’s recent post or this link to Freedom Friends Church or my post about my visit to Berkeley Friends Church last January.

For more about my personal experience in Newberg, check back for my next post, “What Does the Lord Require of You?”

[Update 7/21/06: I added the link to the pastor's message in the text above and also here.]

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Blogger Gregg Koskela said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your experience, and I hope if you join us again, you will feel absolute freedom to speak what God leads.

I'm sorry for my blog silence...I'm finally posting the message from that day, and an apology for my quietness.

7/21/2006 5:32 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Hi Gregg. What's funny to me is that I did feel free to speak what God leads - and yet God led me to be quiet. I've heard stories about more prominent ministers than me calling a meeting and then feeling shut up in the ministry when they got there. I'm sure no one came especially to hear me!

But we were glad to hear you. Which reminds me to ask, do you feel absolute freedom to speak what God leads? On-blog or off?

7/21/2006 6:58 PM  

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