Godinterest Offers ‘WordPress for Religion’

pilgrim52:

There’s a new blog space for those with religion. I’m not sure they could offer anything more comprehensive than WordPress, but if you feel stifled in your religious expression, you might go support them.

Originally posted on Godinterest Blog:

Godinterest.org Offers ‘WordPress for Religion’

LONDON,Pr Newswire April 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Great Britain is not the place to find a bumper sticker that says, “Honk if you love Jesus.”  Britons tend to be tolerant and respectful of Muslim and Hindu religious observances, but not their own. Godinterest Blogs, as the name implies, is designed with religion in mind.  The site was developed by Dean Jones, a 36-year-old project manager and Saint Martins, university of the arts post graduate who said, “Godinterest.org gives occasion to a whole new set ofconversations about religion in public life that represents a tremendous opportunity for publication, discussion and critique of a kind never seen before.”

Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150406/196638

Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150406/196639

The growing influence of blogs is indisputable. Most would agree that the mainstream press is looking more like the blogosphere.  Old newspapers and magazines now host blogs by reporters on their websites. Because of their ease of publication and use, blogs have changed the shape…

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Minding the Spirit is Hard Work

picture of flowersOnce again I am Woodbrooke Centre. This time, I am on my first week of a two-week long residential requirement during my Equipping for Ministry course.

After arriving yesterday after a long, but pretty much stress-free bus trip, we had dinner and then our first ‘getting to know each other again’ session. Most days at Woodbrooke begin very early and end late with, what sometimes seems to be, long sessions of sharing, reading, and listening. We interspersed these times with breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, and periods of silent worship, along with the usual chatting with friends between sessions.

I am finding that working on your spirituality is much harder than just working at everyday tasks and jobs at home or in the workplace. Perhaps because most modern tasks and job-related skills contain long periods of mindless, robotic motions and paper pushing. Working on one’s soul, however, requires that you stay present and focused most of the day even through to bedtime.

Today I devoted myself to beginning the discipline of eating breakfast at the silent table, attending meeting for worship for 30 minutes, and deliberately slowing myself down. I’ve noticed already that it helps so much with my attitude during the day. As for slowing down, I only realize I am rushing too much after having an accident on the stairs. I’ve noticed this during my working days back in the USA as well. I will be rushing, not paying attention, and turn my ankle or fall down some steps or up the steps. I am going too fast for conditions. Last night, I missed a step and caught myself going down the last three stairs in a fall. Fortunately, grabbing the stair rail did not prevent the fall completely, but made it much less worse than it could have been by slowing the inevitable. Only a bruised shin to show for it.

I also have the horrible habit of waking up and getting stuck in to work and activities without easing into it and then becoming irritated at normal requests or incidents. Mornings, for me, have always been a good time for a spiritual discipline, but I have failed to do it on more than one occasion and I’ve failed to give myself permission to persist. Being here at Woodbrooke gives some structure to begin again, but it will be my responsibility to maintain it after I get home.  I am fortunate that my husband, who is also a Quaker, understands the importance of needing a time of silence and easing into daily activities. He is on a different daily clock than I am most of the time, so it’s challenging. But, I know we can make it work.

I am so blessed to be on the course and that I am able to have the support of my husband and my meeting. These things cannot be rushed and all things come to fruition in time and waiting and silence. I am happy and content at this time in my life and that’s saying something!

You are God’s Message

While reading posts on Facebook I came across this quote from Oswald ChambersMy Utmost for His Highest:

As His disciples, our lives must be a holy example of the reality of our message. It takes a heart broken by conviction of sin, baptized by the Holy Spirit, and crushed into submission to God’s purpose to make a person’s life a holy example of God’s message. The purpose of Pentecost was to make the disciples the incarnation of what they preached so that they would literally become God’s message in the flesh: ‘you shall be witnesses to Me’ (Acts 1:8). Before God’s message can liberate other people, His liberation must first be real in you.

I find it quite similar to this quote from George Fox, his famous ‘that of God’ epistle:

Bring all into the worship of God. Plough up the fallow ground… And none are ploughed up but he who comes to the principle of God in him which he hath transgressed. Then he doth service to God; then the planting and the watering and the increase from God cometh. So the ministers of the Spirit must minister to the Spirit that is transgressed and in prison, which hath been in captivity in every one; whereby with the same Spirit people must be led out of captivity up to God, the Father of spirits, and do service to him and have unity with him, with the Scriptures and with one another. And this is the word of the Lord God to you all, and a charge to you all in the presence of the living God: be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one. (Quaker Faith and Practice 19:32, 5th Ed.)

Fox is clearly saying that there is that spark of God in everyone because we are all born into this world with a soul created by God. However, some of us transgress that soul and our spirits are in captivity to hatred, evil, murder, faithlessness, disloyalty, disobedience, and any other thing that makes the world worse. Those who have the Spirit of God through a new spiritual birth, as Fox believed he had, are called to stir up that of God in others by example, by exhortation, and no doubt by prayer. “Be patterns” Fox says. Be a “holy example” says Chambers.

Chambers, a Scottish Baptist teacher and evangelist, wrote what has become the Protestant world’s most popular Christian devotional and one of my favorites. It would seem that Fox was a precursor to Chambers’ evangelistic devotional rhetoric.  Where Fox differed was proclaiming no need for preachers to expound the movings of the Holy Spirit of God.  And they both obviously believed that our lives were the most convincing messages of God’s love and Spirit in the world. We can shout and talk and argue all we like on Facebook, Twitter, or following meetings for worship but if we truly have that of God within us others will see it and recognize it and answer it.

‘To Scatter and Expel';

It is interesting to me that modern Quakers still use the word ‘worship’ to describe their weekly silent meetings. Worship tends to mean adoration and awe-inspired prayer directed at a Deity, usually with a vocal component such as Psalm reading or singing.  Many non-theists balk at the idea of worship. Worship implies giving reverence to something greater. My understanding of worship was a two-way communication process between God and the worshiper. We come with hearts and minds prepared and perhaps to hear of word of God in return. We come to offer ourselves to Light in order to expose what we have hidden and to confront what needs to be confronted. If a word of Ministry arises, then we test it, try it, and give it not for ourselves, but for others.

Lately I’ve come to doubt my own experiences. At the Equipping for Ministry course at Woodbrooke, my tutor listened to my conversion story and subsequent journey through a variety of churches. She listened to my meanderings through Baptist, Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and Independent churches and how dissatisfied I was at most of them.  I told her that I could go on many such journeys and still end up coming back to my conversion experience, which happened almost 32 years ago now, as the one thing that I could count on as true. I told her that no matter how progressively I saw religion, I always come back to it. I need it. She suggested that perhaps there is a reason for that. Why was I so anxious to get rid of it or explain it away?

Good question.  Was I worried that my adherence to an experience with the Christian Jesus puts me out of step with most contemporary and progressive Quakers, especially in Britain? It felt to me, when I first came to Quakers, that mentioning Jesus was a bit taboo, yet early Quakers founded their entire religion upon the person of Jesus Christ and his words in scriptures. Their early meetings for worship consisted of reading the bible together and then waiting in silence to listen for God’s response. Now, no one reads anything except perhaps the occasional Advices and Query. Most times I long for a word from God that doesn’t consist of the daily newspaper items or political point.

Early Quakers were quite fervent at meetings and even outside of meetings, it was not uncommon for many to be struck by their faith. The importance and reverence with which early Quakers met for meetings of worship is impressive. Stephen Crisp wrote in 1663:

With diligence meet together, and with diligence wait to feel the Lord God to arise, to scatter and expel all that which is the cause of leanness and barrenness upon any soul; for it is the Lord must do it, and he will be waited upon in sincerity and fervency of spirit; …and let none be hasty to utter words, though manifest in the light in which ye wait upon the Lord; but still wait in silence, to know the power working in you to bring forth the words, in the ministration of the eternal word of life to answer the life in all. (Christian Faith and Practice in the experience of the Society of Friends, London Yearly Meeting, 1959 edition)

This is a perfect example of answering ‘that of God’ in everyone: ‘in the ministration of the eternal word of life to answer the life in all’. That ‘life’ we are to answer to is the Life offered by the Spirit of Christ/God. It is the Light that we perhaps are born with, but damage through our own evil acts, thoughts, deeds until we cannot see our own light any longer. In worship our own damage comes to Light and we find healing there.

I’ve have since come to believe that perhaps the purpose of my life is to stir up that of God in people, even perhaps when it seems extinguished or quashed; to face that which suppresses it and to help root out the bad thing. I relish my 1983 experience with Light and Love, not because it makes me important, but because I can’t deny it happened and I can’t escape its intended effect. I am grateful for a certainty in this world of terrible uncertainties. I should count it a blessing.