Last summer I wrote how the group of believers I hang with have a tradition of taking one Sunday a summer and venturing out and worshipping with a different faith community. Some join a neighbor at their place of worship, some go as small groups and some just venture out on their own. I think it works best if you are able to experience something that you may never have before; something out of your comfort zone perhaps.
This year my son and I and another father and son met at the local Friends Meeting. Being from the Quaker State, I am somewhat familiar with what a Quaker is historically, but I had never seen one in the wild.
We were greeted graciously and made to feel very welcome. It was explained to us that the Raleigh Friends Meeting was ‘unprogrammed’ — no pastor and no order of worship. They spend “First Hour” in quiet — “expectant waiting”. The room is oriented so that four groups of seat point toward the center. If someone feels led, they stand and speak or give “vocal ministry”. Speakers are expected to discern the source of their inspiration — whether divine or self. “First Hour” is brought to a close (rise of Meeting) by a designated person shaking their neighbors hand which is then repeated around the room. There is then some time for coffee and tea followed by the “Second Hour” which is very much like Sunday School.
Our greeter also mentioned — almost as a second thought — that they try and “see that of God in everyone.” So greeting for her is “a way of welcoming the Divine.” I am still processing that and I am thinking it could be quite helpful if more of us saw “that of God” in others. Imagine walking by and not smiling at God. Imagine not stopping and sharing what you have with God. Imagine hurling a spiteful insult at God. Imagine dropping a bomb on God…
The first twenty minutes of worship found my mind jumping around and rather active. About twenty minutes in I finally calmed. There were still things going through my mind but they were more of a flow and less of a jumble. I was remembering a Rob Bell video I recently watched where he was talking about the name of God (YahWeh) and how it sounds like breathing. He continued with this thought in that the first act of life we all perform is saying the name of God and that the last thing we will do in this life is say the name of God.
As I sat there in quiet I could hear several people calling the name of God. One near by was somewhat more hurried than others; nervous even. Another was very methodical and respectful. I looked down and near my feet were shadows of tree branches and leaves dancing in the breeze outside the window. I considered how all of creation is ‘breathing’.