Quaker Heritage Day 2007
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can use any reminder I get to be faithful. Brian Drayton offered many, during Quaker Heritage Day at Berkeley Friends Church on Saturday, March 3. Not least was the example of pausing now and then, and choosing to stop talking if he had any sense that he might be outrunning his guide. A gentle presence, so I’m glad I took notes.
There are other blog reports on this event from Wess, Robin, and Chris. Plus Max's photos, including the dinner at my house. Probably more to follow…
Some of the major strands that ran through Brian’s talks:
• There have been varieties of gifts, and varieties of styles of vocal ministry, in every generation of Friends.
• Our meetings need a culture that affirms and supports the development of gifts.
• Our own personal transformation, through walking with God, should be made visible to others in order to encourage them to be faithful.
• An active prayer life is essential to prepare us for ministry.
A few historical zingers that stood out for me:
• Historical accounts of early Friends’ ministry included a description of people falling in fits on the floor during vocal ministry, with a sense of conviction of the power of sin.
• One British officer said he felt more terror at James Nayler’s preaching than in battle.
• Many women traveled in the ministry because their husbands were able to support them, but not able to leave their own work.
• Joshua Evans, a follower of John Woolman, had a witness of vegetarianism in the 1770s.
• Some Yearly Meetings (or representative committees?) hold business meetings without agendas, waiting for what arises. [If anyone has more detail on this, please fill me in.]
The moment that had me shaking in my seat--if not writhing on the floor for all to see--was Brian’s reading from Isaac Pennington’s “Some Directions to the Panting Soul” (bolding below mine; available in full here):
Now to the soul that hath felt breathings towards the Lord formerly, and in whom there are yet any true breathings left after his living presence, and after the feeling of his eternal virtue in the heart, I have this to say: Where art thou? Art thou in thy soul's rest? Dost thou feel the virtue and power of the gospel? Dost thou feel the ease which comes from the living arm, to the heart which is joined to it in the light of the gospel? Is thy laboring for life in a good degree at an end? And dost thou feel the life and power flowing in upon thee from the free fountain? Is the load really taken off from thy back? Dost thou find the captive redeemed and set free from the power of sin, and the captivity broken, and he which led thee captive from the life and from the eternal power, now led captive by the life, and by the redeeming power, which is eternal? Hast thou found this, or hast thou missed of it? Let thine heart answer. Ah! do not imagine and talk away the rest and salvation of thy soul. The gospel state is a state of substance, a state of enjoying the life, a state of feeling the presence and power of the Lord in his pure, holy Spirit, a state of binding-up, a state of healing, a state of knowing the Lord, and walking with him in the light of his own Spirit. It begins in a sweet, powerful touch of life, and there is a growth in the life (in the power, in the divine virtue, in the rest, peace, and satisfaction of the soul in God) to be administered and waited for daily. Now art thou here, in the living power, in the divine life, joined to the spring of life, drawing water of life out of the well of life with joy? Or art thou dry, dead, barren, sapless, or at best but unsatisfiedly mourning after what thou wantest?