The story is told of an active Quaker Meeting, which is the name for a congregation in the Society of Friends. The Meeting gathered one day for their monthly discussion of church business. Once everyone was present and seated, the Clerk said, “Friends, we have a lot more than usual on our agenda for this evening. We need to get started so we can spend extra time in prayer and silence.”
“We have a lot to do, so we need to spend more time in prayer before we address our business.” If ever there was a countercultural way of conducting a meeting with a packed agenda, this is it. Most places I go, the response would be the opposite: “We have a lot to do tonight, so let’s skip our centering and get on to the business at hand.” I hate to guess how many times this has happened at meetings here at Pullen. I hate to admit that this is my personal instinct as well. My natural inclination is to get on to the tasks on my to-do list, and I know I’m not alone. Most of us here are very active people. We’re “doers” and there is much to do these days. These perilous times call for action since every day there is a new outrage. So our inner voices say, “Let’s get on with it.” Yet I know in my heart that our Quaker friends model something our culture and many of us haven’t learned, but desperately need. We need more silence and less talk. More listening and less thinking. For if we don’t do our inner spiritual work, our actions, however well-meaning, can be misguided, ineffective or even hurtful. Ungrounded action doesn’t often reflect the best we have to give. [Read more…]
Opening Prayer by Pat Hielscher:
May we pray together…..
We come to worship this morning to sit in the quietness and to center ourselves to be present to your Holy presence.
Humble our hearts so we may eagerly come to you in times of trouble and find respite in your unfailing love.
Open our eyes to the injustices among us and motivate us to speak to the evils we see. Give us the courage to share stories and hear the stories of others. Give us glimpses of your world from perspectives that are not ours. [Read more…]
Text: Matthew 4:12-23
On April 11, 1943 as World War II raged, Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick stood in the historic pulpit of Riverside Church where he was pastor and began his sermon with these words:
“This certainly is a ghastly time to be alive. Behind the stirring headlines that narrate the clash of armies and the march of victory, an unheralded mass of human misery exists, the likes of which our earth has seldom, if ever, seen before…Moreover, this is an especially hideous generation for Christians. Ralph Waldo Emerson, when a young minister, attended an important Bible society’s convention in a southern state, and by chance the meetings were held in a room whose windows opened on a slave market where Negroes were being auctioned off. So Emerson describes the scene: ‘One ear therefore heard the glad tidings of great joy, whilst the other was regaled with ‘Going, gentleman, going.’’…Such an intolerable contradiction we face now in a generation where one listens with one ear to the faiths, hopes, and ideals of the Christian gospel, and with the other to this war’s unbridled violence and brutality.” [Read more…]
Text: John 1:29-42
“The story goes that a public sinner was excommunicated and forbidden entry to the church. He took his woes to God. ‘They won’t let me in, Lord, because I am a sinner.’ ‘What are you complaining about?’ said God. ‘They won’t let me in either.’” (Brennan Manning) It was Mark Twain who once said, “There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.” And Mae West said of sin, “To err is human—but it feels divine.” [Read more…]
Text: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13
Like many people, we have an evening routine in our home. We usually eat dinner around 6 or 6:30. By 7:30 we have cleaned the kitchen, walked the dog and are ready to sit down to either a TV program we have recorded or to our books that we are reading. Almost without fail, around 8 or 8:30 Karla will ask, “What time is it?” And I will respond, “It’s not time yet.” The real question Karla is asking is, “Is it too early to go to bed?” Most nights, we are so tired that by 8:30 we are ready for bed. But we have promised ourselves that as adults we should at least make it until 9. And so, we carry on, sometimes half awake and half asleep, until that appointed time that we have deemed acceptable for two grown adults to go to bed. [Read more…]