Meeting on the Grounds

My first attempt at holding a meeting for worship on the grounds of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival was a success. The criteria were
  1. I got to worship
  2. I didn't miss Hazel Dickens again.
One other Friend joined me. It was a beautiful, sunny morning to worship in a meadow. I spent much of the time holding the other people all around us in prayer.

Two additional benefits of going so early:
  1. We had great seats for the rest of the day - up on the little hill, with good sightlines and great acoustics.
  2. Emmylou Harris did an extended soundcheck at 9:30, playing four or five whole songs. What a beautiful voice.
A side note is that when I explained to the man setting up his blanket next to mine that we were about to hold a Quaker meeting for worship right there, he looked up and said, "Quaker? My mother was a Quaker." A little later, he explained that she was an Iowa farmgirl and she was raised Quaker, although he wasn't. The Quaker connections are everywhere, all around us and we don't even know it.

I will do this again next year if at all possible. Mark your calendars now! There's no official word yet but I expect the festival will be October 3-5, 2008.

Here is the text of the little half page handout I prepared just in case anyone wondered what was going on. (No one did.) What do you think? What would you put on a handout about public worship?


You’re welcome to join this informal meeting for worship in the manner of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). It is being held here in order to allow Friends to worship together and not miss any of the wonderful music here today. We expect to end around 11:00 am.

Regular meetings for worship are held Sundays at 11:00 am and Tuesdays at 6:00 pm. For those new to Friends or unprogrammed worship, we offer an orientation to meeting for worship at 10:40 am every Sunday. All are welcome.

San Francisco Friends Meeting (Quakers)
65 Ninth Street, between Market and Mission, near Civic Center

[other side]
Our meeting for worship, which is at the core of Quaker practice, is focused on the response of the human spirit to the call of the Divine. Worship begins when the first worshippers settle into the silence. This meeting for worship will end when the host of the meeting shakes the hand of another person seated nearby. At that signal, everyone may shake hands and greet each other.

You may find it helpful to close your eyes for most or all of the worship hour to reduce distractions and increase your focus on the presence of God among us. During worship people may meditate, pray silently, inwardly offer praise or thanksgiving or confession to the Spirit, or reflect on a passage from the Bible or other spiritual reading. In our corporate worship, we seek communion with God. We wait and listen together, seeking divine guidance or inspiration from a source known among us by many names: Wisdom, the Light, the Inward Christ, the Seed, the Word, Jesus, the Lord.

All present share in this process. At times an individual may be moved to speak, to offer a prayer or a message that has come out of the silence. All are welcome to do this. Listen to the ministry of others with an open spirit. If it is not God's word for you, it may be for others. After a message has been given, allow time to ponder its meaning and to let the Meeting return to silent worship.

The responsibility for the spiritual depth of the meeting rests with each attender. Those who keep silent as well as those who give a vocal message do their part when they yield their minds and hearts to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Friends hope that in the meeting for worship a consciousness of the Divine Presence will be felt by every attender, and will be a source of direction, strength and comfort after leaving the meeting.

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Blogger Gregg Koskela said...

Robin, this is so cool and moving. What a way to live out our beliefs, that God is present everywhere, that life is worship, that God is always speaking, that we don't have to separate "spiritual" and "other." Thanks for being faithful!

10/11/2007 12:29 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Thank you Gregg! One of the things I treasure about unprogrammed Quaker worship is its portability. You know, wherever two or three are gathered...

10/11/2007 12:38 PM  
Blogger John Kindley said...

Hi Robin! I haven't commented here before. In fact, I'm pretty new to the Quaker blogosphere, though I've been a fairly active commenter on several non-Quaker blogs for some time. Since starting my own blog a few weeks ago, however, I've become much more aware of this blessed community. In fact, just a couple days ago I became aware of convergent Friends (thank you for your part in that!), and find much there that reflects and helps orient my own faith.

Anyway, I love bluegrass too!

Speaking of Quaker connections, I found out from an aunt a couple years after becoming an attender at Meeting (i.e. last April, at the reception after my Quaker wedding) that my grandfather and his siblings grew up Quaker. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away a few years before I began attending. I would have loved to talk with him about it. He wasn't a church-going man during the years I knew him, but I always got the sense that he still believed in the "good Lord," though he was a man of few words. Come to think of it, your post reminds that I need to track down his brother, who's still alive and must be pushing 100, about their early Quaker years. I bet he's got some stories!

10/11/2007 2:51 PM  
Blogger Nancy A said...

Brilliant! Past brilliant!

You're an outreach genius!

10/14/2007 8:42 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Thanks, John, for your kind words. Good luck with getting to know more from your great-uncle. What a treasure in your own family. Hurry before it's too late.

Nancy, wow. I don't know about genius. We didn't actually attract anybody new to our worship. But we were there, and willing. I figure if we keep trying, eventually it will reach who ever it is meant for. The summer outdoor concert season is pretty much over here, but maybe we can use this flyer again next summer, at more events. Feel free to use whatever of it suits you in any outreach you are doing. I cribbed much of the language from old pamphlets I found around here.

10/15/2007 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robin, stop feigning bashfulness over the genius remark and give glory to God! You are truly blessed.

10/20/2007 10:08 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Praise be to God. Thanks for the reminder, David.

10/23/2007 3:26 PM  

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