Friday, April 28, 2006


When Marcus Borg writes about Christianity, he often uses Quakers and Pentecostals to describe opposite ends of the spectrum of worship. When I was younger, I spent my summers with my grandparents who attended an Assembly of God (Pentecostal) church. Thus, I am blessed to have experienced both ends of the spectrum (some of my in-between experiences are rather amusing as well, like the time I was about 9 and discovered only after a really huge gulp from the cup that Episcopalians use real wine instead of grape juice for communion). During my time at this church, I had occasion to witness some interesting things like "being slain in the spirit" and glossolalia (a.k.a. speaking in tongues).

Speaking in tongues is an interesting thing to me. I have never done it, neither have my grandparents. I read an article on a while back (I can't find it now), by a minister who has never spoken in tongues, and was rejected by some churches because of it. That article was brought to mind last week when I was reading 1 Corinthians, where Paul says in chapter 12:
Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different results, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all. For one person is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, and another the message of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another performance of miracles, to another prophecy, and to another discernment of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. It is one and the same Spirit, distributing as he decides to each person, who produces all these things. (NET Bible)

So basically, he has outlined the various spiritual gifts. Later in chapter 14, he says:
Pursue love and be eager for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For the one speaking in a tongue does not speak to people but to God, for no one understands; he is speaking mysteries by the Spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds himself up, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. I wish you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets so that the church may be strengthened. (NET Bible)

At first, this grabbed me because it suggested that putting undue emphasis on speaking in tongues was probably harmful, and also expecting everyone to have that particular gift was not in keeping with Paul's understanding of the gifts. But then, I was struck even more by the realization that Meeting for Worship is essentially all of us getting together to exercise the gift of prophecy. It is amusing to consider what some of the reactions would be to someone speaking in tongues during Meeting for Worship, yet we are really just exercising a different gift - and aren't we also ignoring the possibility that not everyone is given the gift of prophecy? It seems to me that in Meeting for Worship for Healing, we are trying to exercise the gift of healing, and I have felt very strong indications of that gift occasionally during these meetings - much more often than I have felt the gift of prophecy (interestingly, I feel some of the same physical effects from both).

I found a pamphlet on Prophetic Ministry by Howard Brinton that did equate at least early Quaker worship with the gift of prophecy. It is an interesting overview of what happened to prophetic ministry, and suggests reasons why ministry today doesn't always seem very prophetic.

Given QuakerK's recent comparison/contrast between Quakerism & Evangelicalism, perhaps we should also compare it to the Charismatic movement.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

"F The President" ?

There was a big peace march & rally here in Atlanta over the weekend, and a number of people parked at the Atlanta Friends Meetinghouse and carpooled to the rally. Ceal and I had to go by the meetinghouse in the afternoon and I saw a car with a small, square black sticker that said "F the President". At times I have seen similar things like "Muggles for Bush", "W Is Not The Answer", and much worse. Even in Meeting for Worship there are also occasional snide remarks about Bush and Cheney. I have been guilty of this myself, not in Meeting for Worship, but in my daily conduct. This is not a practice of love, is not what Jesus calls us to do.


Look at these pictures. Can you love these people, hold them in the light, and pray that God will bless them? Our peace witness comes from the commandment to love our neighbor as ourself, not out of some duty to "do the right thing". Loving someone doesn't mean we have to agree with them, but it does mean that we treat them with respect and dignity, and do not make fun of them.

When I first started attending meeting, a dear woman named Jane Wellborn would ask us to hold in the light George W. Bush, his Cabinet, Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and various others. This was a little more than a year after 9/11 and I had some difficulty with holding Osama Bin Laden in the light, and I will admit some difficulty with the others as well. I am so very grateful for Jane's witness, which continues today, and I look forward to her constant reminders.