Answering God – 40 Days with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Day 25 – Wednesday after 4th Sunday of Lent
Do you recognise the needs and gifts of each member of your family and household, not forgetting your own?
Try to make your home a place of loving friendship and enjoyment, where all who live or visit may find the peace and refreshment of God’s presence.
(Advices & Queries #26)
From the Scriptures:
Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. 37 At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, ‘Please come to us without delay.’ 39 So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up.
Those who read my Facebook and Twitter posts will know that during Lent I only listen to Gospel music in my car and I then post one of them as my daily #SongForLent. My go to Gospel singer since I was a wet behind the ears curate has always been Amy Grant. Yep! I am one of her biggest fangirls this side of the Big Pond and have even done a series of Lent reflections on her music.
Today’s Advices reminded me of the song she wrote about her grandmother called Mimi’s House. Amy’s grandmother seemed to be the person Advices #26 had in mind when it was written. Love makes its home in Mimi’s house and there Amy and her family are given the space to grow and love and find their gifts.
The Mimi’s and Dorcas of Joppa’s of this world are the glue of the church. Their knitting circles and coffee mornings, bring-and-share lunches and open gardens, are places where the church is welcomed and finds a home when we can’t meet in a building. It is not for nothing that in Judaism it is the mother of the house who leads family devotions on Shabbat. She is the one who gathers the children around the table were they are fed both by food and by the Torah.
In the Religious Society of Friends the home has a strong place in the life of faith as the community had to grow from scratch without any inherited church buildings (steeple houses) and in the middle of persecution. If they had a Meeting House it was very often ‘more domestic than ecclesiastical’ and it is understandable that the hearth of the home became the heart of the faith.
As the world enters a time during a pandemic when public places of worship are closed to protect people, this may be a timely reminder to build loving friendship and enjoyment, where all who live or visit may find the peace and refreshment of God’s presence. Please though, my dear friends, if your neighbourhood is in lock down, hold off on visiting each other for a season.
It has been interesting to see clergy colleagues turn their dining room tables into altars so that they may broadcast the faith while pondering on the reality that every family table is already an altar of God’s love and a place where ‘love has made its home’.
It has also been interesting to see friends excitedly share on Social Media their children venturing on home schooling tasks with joy and determination and parents wondering at the wisdom that their younglings have.
Needs are expressed, gifts flourish, and we even have the space to tend the garden of our own hearts.
I would not wish this time of sickness and death on anyone yet out of it may yet bloom a greater love and care for each other and a deeper understanding of our common humanity.
Which leads me to end, for which I make no apology, with another of Amy Grant’s song. ‘Coz we are a family and we are all going home.’
If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbours.
If there is to be peace between neighbours,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.
1) Read slowly the note from ‘Advices & Queries’ above again
2) Start, or add to, a family devotion. If we can’t go the building called ‘church’ to worship let’s turn to the Church that already meets in our homes.
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