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Answering God – Day 2

Answering God – 40 Days with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Day 2 – Thursday after Ash Wednesday

To Read:

Do you try to set aside times of quiet for openness to the Holy Spirit?
All of us need to find a way into silence which allows us to deepen our awareness of the divine and to find the inward source of our strength.
Seek to know an inward stillness, even amid the activities of daily life.
Do you encourage in yourself and in others a habit of dependence on God’s guidance for each day?
Hold yourself and others in the Light, knowing that all are cherished by God.

(Advices & Queries #3)

From the Scriptures: 

While staying with them, [Jesus] ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me;  for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’

(Acts 1v4-5)

 

To Reflect: 

It is said that The Society of Friends were given the nickname ‘Quakers’ to describe the ecstatic religious experiences that they experienced during their times of worship.  It is somewhat ironic, then, that the thing for which a Quaker Meeting is now most renowned is not their exuberance but their silence…

Has the Holy Spirit changed in the way she inspires people down the years?  Has the Society of Friends moved away from the traditions of its Founding Mothers and Fathers? Or has this church learnt that prayer is not so much about telling God our needs, our pains or even our praises, but about listening to God, and in listening, find community?

After all if we are on a quest to Answer God’s call on our life the first step should perhaps be to listen?

Do you try to set aside times of quiet for openness to the Holy Spirit?

This is an ancient truth that we all too easily forget.  It is not for nothing that Benedict of Nursia begins his rule for common living with the simple word ‘Listen’[i], and with listening it is in the Greater Silence of the night hours that the deepest prayer of the monastery is born.

So how can we respond to this first ‘Do you’ in Advices & Queries? (Look out for those two words they will appear again and again in these 40 days o gently challenge us).

To begin Lent by waiting of God in silence would be a wonderful thing wouldn’t it?  Surely it can’t be that difficult?  A little less TV, a little less time on Social Media, a little more quiet before worship begins.  Surely that will put us well on the path to righteousness?  Would that it did!  But, by itself it doesn’t and will not.  If it did you can guarantee that I wouldn’t be spending time every day of Lent writing these words 🙂

Quiet is not silence.  I know if I turn off all the outside voices that assail my soul all I do is find myself stuck with my interior voices who support every grievance I have and pardon all of my peccadilloes.  It is good to get rid of some words, some of the ‘noise’ and ‘static’ of life, during Lent but if we get rid of all of them how are we to hear the whisperings of the Holy Spirit?

To set aside times of quiet for openness to the Holy Spirit is not a slavish questing after an impenetrable silence but instead a challenge to seek ‘an inward stillness, even amid the activities of daily life’. 

To have fruitful silence during this time of Lent (and throughout our Christian social-listeningjourney) does not requires us to cut ourselves off from the world but instead, as did the incarnate Christ, engage with it more fully and name the moments of God we find amongst the dross and the rubble, the Tweets, the Facebook posts, and the Newspaper headlines.

For if we are not open to the Holy Spirit in the world it will be very difficult for us to be open to the Holy Spirit within ourselves.

 

To Pray:  

O love, O pure deep love, be here, be now – be all;
Worlds dissolve into your stainless endless radiance,
Frail living leaves burn with you brighter than cold stars.
Make me your servant, your breath, your core.

Sufi Song

 

To Do:

1)  Read slowly the note from ‘Advices & Queries’ above again
2)  Write a ‘thank you’ note to someone whose words or deeds has helped you deepen your awareness of God’s presence.

 

Acknowledgements:

Quotes from ‘Advices & Queries’ are copyright © The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, 1995, 1997 and 2008
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Prayers from ‘Prayers for Hard Times’ are copyright  © Becca Anderson 2017
These Reflections, ‘Answering God’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 – and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged

[i] http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/03d/0480-0547,_Benedictus_Nursinus,_Regola,_EN.pdf

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