Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Friendly Question

It’s absurd, I know, but some times I am hesitant to ask Friends where they stand on issues or to share their thoughts with me. They are all nice enough, but it seems we all don’t have so much in common some days and stand for what we do not believe more than what we do. At times I feel alone viewing Christ as my Center. I do not want to bend someone’s nose or cause them to be uncomfortable or even possibly be angry, but I’m curious if I am a lone Friend living with a joyful belief of daily inner baptism and communion with the Lord and one another?

I know, I know...many of you will think I am ignorant. I respect we all differ and do not feel the need for outward symbols of these daily inward realities. I do not feel they are outwardly necessary either. But are they realities to us as a society or to any Friends anymore inwardly, is my burning question.

Here’s the thing. I awake each morning and I’m not carrying around a truck load of guilt, but by midmorning, I can realistically count my short-comings. It’s a daily adventure. I think about the body and the blood each day. And not a day goes by I don’t think about the ever-present baptism in the Spirit; that non-stop cleansing fountain. I think of it as a journey of grace with a love that bubbles up with laughter for the daily gifts, to be intimately cleansed in the water and to sip the cup, feast on the sacrifice given.

Perhaps I am odd. A definate quirk. I was raised in a Christian church that practiced these outward symbols. I did participate at the time, but I never felt them required to be a friend of God. I was happy. I now attend a Quaker meeting and of course, we do not practice these things. I am happy. I guess in truth, my position has not changed on this one item since being that itty bitty little girl in the back pew chewing gum and swinging her legs to and fro. I did those outward practices, felt I was loved and accepted not by the ritual, but by the Lover of my Soul. To me, it was reality and already done for my soul. The seed was planted back then and I knew I yearned to simply to live it daily. Adjusting to Friend’s ways in this just felt right.

I come for my own reasons to worship as an unprogrammed Friend, but I do not come out of a resentful background. Likewise, when reading some literature on the Society of Friends for the first time, I was not horrified, as some of my Christian cohorts seem to be with this non-necessity. Instead, I rather saw it as a blessing of freedom to be offered to and accept the gift anew each day. I was quite relieved when reading Jack Wilcut's book Why Friends are Friends, that I could identify with his position being similar to mine. So I shyly and hesitantly inquire, do any Friends out there have a voice on the spiritual sacraments?

77 comments:

Ganeida said...

Jan Lyn: I have not been ignoring this post [great question BTW!] but have been thinking about it because in all honesty I'm not quite sure where I stand.

As a general rule [& I too came out of a regular symbol using church] I am uncomfortable with symbols. I am particularly uncomfortable with churches that rely heavily on them.

However there are two that I think are mandated by Christ himself: Baptism [by water & the Spirit] & Passover/communion/eucharist [Do this in rememberance of me.] As I don't think either needs to be ministered by an official anyone we occassionaly celebrate communion or Passover as part of our home gathering. Others that worship with us feel the need for these symbols & I am happy to meet their need. Do I think either are necessary to salvation? No. So strictly they can be done away with.

Nor are these symbols that can be easily incorporated into a meeting where other beliefs may be held in tandem but I am a Christian first & foremost. I choose to express my belief in & love of Christ through Quaker worship in Spirit & in Truth.

On the other hand I am insatiably curious & we have been exploring the OT festivals while at the same time moving away from the traditional Christian festivals. This may only last for a season or the Lord may lead us into deeper worship through maintaining the festivals He ordained.

My local meeting is not particularly Christian in outlook & I have found that terribly isolating. Where does a Christ lover who is uncomfortable with all the noise & trappings of a regular church service go to worship the lover of their soul? One of my gifts is speaking forth the word of God so it would only be a matter of time before the spirit led me to speak & I'd offend someone. Pretty much guarrenteed. I'm pretty forthright. Quandrum. I rarely attend meeting as a result & I do so love Quaker worship.

Jan Lyn said...

I would hesitate to ever discourage one from participating in the outward symbols if it brings blessing and is familiar. I will on occasion, still feel led to take communion at my husband's church. I guess I feel similar to what you said, Ganeida, in that it is not strictly required for salvation. I view both as beautiful symbols, but for me I am comfortable living them inwardly.

Interestingly enough, I too feel that they may be ministered by any friend of Christ, not necessarily official and all being equal.

It's a difficult subject to bring up, so I appreciate you taking the time to consider. Different denominations all vary so much which suggests it is not all that clear in scripture. The Reformation period is instructive in this area, for the divisions resulted in so many interpretations.

I wrote this very quickly and probably should have included more scripture within it such as Acts 1:14 for starters. It helped me to read your response. I'm pretty much how you described, I'm feeling achingly isolated in my beliefs yet don't want to offend. As you say, where does a Christ lover go to worship the lover of their soul?!? The church is busy and makes me nervous--physically is SO difficult for my chronic illness, and I love unprogrammed worship. Yep, it's almost guarenteed, however I haven't given up hope as of yet as I believe there is room and should be love shared in unity. (Though here I am hiding away in my tiny blog with the topic.) If anywhere, I do believe we should be able to find a home amongst Quakers (everything else seems to fly!) but am finding myself a bit sad in experience lately-- if I am truthful it feels that I am almost mourning. You are blessed as I stated before in your blog with the home gathering. Thanks, Dearie.
Jan Lyn oxo

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