This week I had the privilege and honor of representing our faith community, Sandy Spring Friends Meeting, at an interfaith Unity Service of Giving Thanks in Olney, Maryland. The following is the brief meditation I shared on behalf of our Quaker community. I hope you enjoy it and find it uplifting for this holiday season:
Worship in the Quaker tradition is often misunderstood and misinterpreted as being “silent.” It is far from that. Historians often identify Quakerism as being “Christian mysticism.” Certainly the mysticism part fits, though Christians are not the only ones who participate in Quaker worship and community at Sandy Spring.
Many Quakers prefer to think of the worship experience as “waiting worship” rather than “silent worship.” Outwardly, waiting worship appears to be silent, though, inwardly, it is anything but. In fact, it is filled with the work of reflective listening for the voice of God to speak to us and discerning whether the Spirit of God is moving us to share aloud what we’ve heard. To guide our reflection, we often use “queries.” A query is a reflective question that focuses our listening and discernment.
Rather than speak for five minutes, I’d like to use some of my time to offer a query for Thanksgiving and an opportunity for you to experience a minute or so of waiting worship.
The query is one that speaks to the challenge of living in this time. It is simply this: How are we to give thanks in the midst of tempestuous times that have too much terror and tragedy for us, our children, and our families?
Please take the next minute to reflect on this question in waiting worship.
I wish I could offer an answer to that question for you, me, and all those we hold dear. These are indeed challenging times and it seems we are regularly facing the realities of terror and tragedy in our nation, our communities, our neighborhoods, and even our places of worship.
I am reminded, however, of another who faced horrific things at the hands of his own brothers. I am referring to Joseph, the son of Jacob, whom God called Israel. Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, yet rose to a level of trust and authority among those who purchased him. From this position, Joseph showed compassion toward his brothers in their time of need. When Joseph’s father died, his brother’s knew they needed to make peace with Joseph after all the evil they had done to him. So they humbly went to see Joseph.
Genesis 50:19-20 tells us Joseph warmly received his brothers and said to them: “Don’t be afraid. Am I God? You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it, in order to save the lives of many people, just as he’s doing today.”
Perhaps we can give thanks in these difficult times because, as Joseph understood, the good was yet to come.
May we all, in this Thanksgiving season, have the insight, hope, faith, and vision to see the good that is coming.
Be greater, do good, each and everyday….change forward!