Answering God – 40 Days with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Day 6 – Tuesday after 1st Sunday of Lent
Be aware of the spirit of God at work in the ordinary activities and experience of your daily life.
Spiritual learning continues throughout life, and often in unexpected ways.
There is inspiration to be found all around us, in the natural world, in the sciences and arts, in our work and friendships, in our sorrows as well as in our joys.
Are you open to new light, from whatever source it may come?
Do you approach new ideas with discernment?
(Advices & Queries #7)
From the Scriptures:
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hidden from its heat.
Today’s Scripture Reading, besides being an excellent excuse to include a video clip of choral music by Haydn[i] reminds us that God is revealed not only through the words of scripture and the teachings of our faith but through everything that has ever been made.
Following the example of Francis of Assisi, franciscans view creation as the ‘First Bible’. Before any words were written down about God, the presence of God proclaimed the glory of a caring Creator. This does not stop with creation and with the Quakers we are called to ‘be aware of the spirit of God at work in the ordinary activities and experience of [our] daily life.
The Protestant Churches, with their emphasis on Sola Scriptura have found it difficult to see God’s hand at work in creation and accuse those who appreciate the natural world of worshipping the creature rather than the creator.[ii]
Catholic Churches, with their emphasis on dogma have found it difficult to see God’s hand at work in science and philosophy, even though some of the earliest of modern scientists, such as Gregor Mendel,[iii] were monks
And Charismatic Churches, with their emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit, are often tempted to think that using medicine to heal is a denial of faith whilst ignoring the Scriptural command to honour the pharmacist and the doctor.[iv]
A&Q#7 calls all corners of the church to look up from their pre-occupation with the documents of their founding and recognise that there is light that reflects and reveals God elsewhere. This mirrors Karl Barth’s famous comment;
“Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both
…but interpret newspapers from your Bible.”
(Karl Barth – Time Magazine, May 1, 1966.)
His oft forgotten condition about interpreting newspapers from [the] Bible mirrors today’s words calling us to both be open to new light, from whatever source it may come, yet at the same time approach new ideas with discernment.
They are not a counsel for a free-for-all, encouraging people to follow the latest spiritual fad but a genuine seeking after truth and light in all things. This is born out of a humility that recognises none of us has a monopoly on the Truth and each of us still has much to learn of God’s loving presence wherever we find ourselves.
Our God waits to meet us in the glory of creation, the discoveries of science, the wonders of technology and in the beauty of the arts. What journey of discovery will you take between now and Easter Day?
The earth is full of your goodness,
your greatness and understanding,
your wisdom and harmony.
How wonderful are the lights that you created.
You formed them with strength and power
and they shine very wonderfully on the world,
Magnificent in their splendour.
They arise in radiance and go down in joy.
Reverently they fulﬁll your divine will.
They are tributes to your name
as they exalt your sovereign rule in song.
(Ancient Jewish Hymn)
1) Read slowly the note from ‘Advices & Queries’ above again
2) Plan to spend time in nature or an art gallery, a museum or a technology shop, and while there listen for God’s presence.
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
[ii] Romans 1v25