#AnsweringGod · Bible Study · Church of England · Churches Together in Britain · Felixstowe · Growing in God · Sermon · Society of Friends - Quakers

Answering God – Day 12

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

Day 12 – Tuesday after 2nd Sunday of Lent

To Read:

A&Q sidewaysDo not assume that vocal ministry is never to be your part.
Faithfulness and sincerity in speaking, even very briefly, may open the way to fuller ministry from others.
When prompted to speak, wait patiently to know that the leading and the time are right, but do not let a sense of your own unworthiness hold you back.
Pray that your ministry may arise from deep experience, and trust that words will be given to you.
Try to speak audibly and distinctly, and with sensitivity to the needs of others.
Beware of speaking predictably or too often, and of making additions towards the end of a meeting when it was well left before.

(Advices & Queries #13)

From the Scriptures:

The Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his land.

(Exodus 7v1-2)

To Reflect: 

Mncedisi Bali a beloved, now at rest, fellow student with me at seminary had anPreach_Logo_strap_RGB endearing habit whilst preaching.  Borne out of the fact that all our preaching studies were in English and his home language was ngesiXhosa, he never quite managed to enumerate the points of his sermon in the traditional manner.  After his first point had been made every successive point began with the phrase ‘and fourthly’ regardless of how many points he made or how long he preached for – and in South Africa by definition the longer the sermon the better!

He did, despite this quirkiness, make a great deal of sense and I learnt much from his passion for the Gospel and it was him who inspired me to join, and become one of the only White members, of the Guild of St Bernard Mizeki. Would that all those who speak in church were as inspiring as him, and not presume that verbosity is close to godliness!  Wisely A&Q#13 cautions us;

Beware of speaking predictably or too often, and of making additions towards the end of a meeting when it was well left before.

As a preacher I know all too well the temptation, once I’m in the pulpit, to not sit down and to tack on another paragraph of my ramblings in preference to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration.  Each time I do this I hear the ghost of my friend Mncedisi whisper ‘and fourthly’ and decided that saying ‘Amen’ and sitting down may be more the more holy choice.

Today’s note also reminds us of the peril of not speaking when we should.  Written for the Quaker Meeting where corporate silence, which is a womb for the Word of God, speaking aloud is treated with deep care.  This can lead to hesitancy when it comes to breaking the silence but none should ever assume that vocal ministry is never to be [their] part.  Whenever we speak, be it a few words tentatively and infrequently or with the confidence of those for whom this is familiar ground we must…

wait patiently to know that the leading and the time are right, but do not let a sense of [our] own unworthiness hold [us] back.

Preaching lengthAnd if called to not speak we had better learn to sit on our hams!

Some of the best sermons I have ever ‘preached’ have been the quiet waiting alongside the turmoil of a sister or a brother in Christ allowing their and my tears to be the only ‘words’ spoken.

Many years ago, after I had preached the whole of the three-year lectionary a  few times, I wrote this in my journal;

When preaching
Do not be frightened of preaching a word
that seems to be long,
Do not be frightened of preaching a word
that seems to be short,
Be frightened of preaching a word that is not from God. 

(the same words apply to public prayer and giving counsel to others)

If all our silence and our speaking is wrapped up in and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit sermons that are long, short, or unspoken will always be enough because they will be from, and of, God.

To preach is a wonderful gift, and my congregation knows that if they put a parking meter in the pulpit I would gladly keep it filled with coins for as long as they would keep on listening, but we can easily see it as the only ministry of the Body of Christ.  The Old Testament reminds us that Moses didn’t speak to Pharaoh but instead it was his brother Aaron.  His not speaking did not, however, seem to have any effect on his ability to do mighty works and be the leader of the Children of Israel…

‘Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words’ are allegedly words spoken byPreach use memes Francis of Assisi.  I have made my own version of it especially for Social Media Junkies…

 

Whether Francis spoke these words or not
Whether we are called to preach sermons or not
Whether we are called to pray publicly or not
Whether we are called to give counsel or not
Whether we are called to the work of holding the silence or not
We are all called, at all times, wherever we are and however we can, to proclaim the Gospel.

 

 

To Pray: 

God,
ransack the little ordered

rooms of my dignity,
and cast me out into wide and dangerous
weathers of my deepest needs.

(Author Unknown)

  

To Do:

1)  Read slowly the note from ‘Advices & Queries’ above again
2)  If you have never spoken in your congregation pray about asking to lead the prayers, read the scriptures or even preach

If you do speak in your congregation frequently give up your place on the rota for one turn before Easter.

 

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

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s