Monday, May 02, 2011

Stories of Faith

I've had two amazing worship experiences in the past few weeks. Both were with my friends Katie and Jack Patterson.

Katie and Jack, members of St. Christopher Catholic Church in Speedway, Indiana, invited Nancy and me to visit for a Palm Sunday service which featured the proclamation of Jesus' passion. In this case, it was delivered by Bill Fikes. He presented the Holy Week story as presented in the Gospel of Matthew -- and it was absolutely moving and mesmerizing. Bill told the story of Palm Sunday through the burial of Christ completely from memory, moving arouss the front of the sanctuary at St. Christopher's, pausing, pointing, exclaiming, musing as the various characters moved through the story. It was powerful and moving -- all the more so as the result of his humble, understated, yet confident telling of this most important story of faith. I was tremendously blessed by hearing the story afresh -- and musing on which character most represented me. Peter the denier? Judas the betrayer? Pilate the accommodater?

Then, this past Sunday, Katie and Jack joined Nancy at me at our little Friends meeting. Worship opened with dear Friend Florence Emma Peery reading Job 38 -- "Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me."

After some spontaneous singing of hymns, a prayer for the concerns of our hearts, we settled into silence. For a change I was moved to speak -- about how that "Gird up your loins like a man" phrase struck me as God telling Job to "put on your big boy pants" and a few other things that were meant to remind us that we were called to rely not on our own understanding, but upon the greatness and graciousness of God. Nothing too profound, just the musings of a fellow pilgrim in the midst of pilgrims.

Then, after awhile Steve Mills spoke, followed later by Dan Burger. All the messages were very practical -- God at work in our daily lives. Reflecting on them (even my own), I was struck afresh by the thought that the power of Quaker worship and life was its very practicality. No high-falutin' thoughts about the nature or theories of atonement (ransom, substitutionary, satisfaction, etc), as worthy of theological discourse and thought though they may be. Rather, just simple thoughts on how to live our faith in a world that pulls us in many different directions. Which, I thought, is exactly why Quakerism appeals to me -- help for the living of these days.

So, from the elevation of the power of the Gospel story, as told by a lay person who took countless hours memorizing it, to the simple truths of Friends shared out of silence, I have been blessed by encounters with vital, living faith. And I thank God.

-- Brent

1 comment:

Colleen said...

Sounds beautiful. Thanks for sharing. God uses so many different ways to bring us closer to him, doesn't he?