Stand still, wait for divine guidance, then act.
— New England Yearly Meeting Advices
In his book, “Being a Quaker”, Geoffrey Durham wrote about the traditional Quaker silent meeting for worship: “What Quakers are doing in their meetings is waiting on the Divine.” And he wrote about the many positive ways he has been led in his life as a result of silent worship.
But Durham also pointed out that when he first started to attend Quaker meetings, he did not always settle into the correct frame of mind. It turns out many of us at Peachtree Friends have had, and sometimes still have, the same problem.
A few weeks ago, prior to meeting for worship, we got to talking about that. We all agreed that sometimes the distractions and worries of day-to-day life make it difficult to settle our minds.
I knew that was true for me, a relative newcomer to Quaker worship. (I told everyone about the time I spent the entire meeting with an Elton John song running through my head.) But it was actually encouraging for me to hear that even lifelong Quakers who attend Peachtree Friends meetings sometimes have the same problem.
For some it’s prayer that focuses them, for others it’s focusing on a meaningful word, for others it’s intentional breathing. Sometimes it takes a little bit of effort to let go of our distractions, but it’s always worth it.
We welcome you to join us this month in silent waiting on the Divine – even if you bring an Elton John song with you.
“We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever; and this is our testimony to the whole world.”
That statement is from a document written in 1660 by representatives of the Religious Society of Friends, including George Fox, to the King of England. It is commonly referred to as the Declaration of Friends to Charles II.
So it’s fair to say that the Peace Testimony has been an integral part of Quakerism for at least 362 years. It’s based on the Quaker belief that everyone has that of God within them. It’s not hard to see that war is incompatible with this belief.
Over the years Quakers have converted the testimony into action by refusing to serve in armed forces (or by serving in an ambulance corps only), protesting war, becoming conscientious objectors, and refusing to pay war taxes.
It can be hard for Friends to know how to manifest the Peace Testimony today. The best way to start might be by simply focusing on and listening to the Light within us. By letting it guide our thoughts, words, and actions, we can increase our own personal peace.
Maybe the first, and most important, step towards world peace lies within ourselves.
“Worship is our response to an awareness of God. We can worship alone, but when we join with others in expectant waiting we may discover a deeper sense of God’s presence. We seek a gathered stillness in our meetings for worship so that all may feel the power of God’s love drawing us together and leading us.”
– Britain Yearly Meeting, Advices and Queries
Since November, Peachtree Friends have been blessed to have our meetings for worship in the Youth Center at Christ Church Episcopal in Norcross. It’s a quiet, comfortable place for us to gather, and even in just these few months we’ve seen it drawing us together.
No matter where we are, we should always try to listen to the Divine voice within and around us. But it can be easier, and perhaps more powerful, in such a welcoming and encouraging environment with others.
We welcome you to join us this month to reflect on your spiritual path, no matter what that path is and no matter how far down it you are.