Faith at Work III

October 2004

The chapter on membership in the Quaker book of Faith and Practice begins with "practical expression of inward convictions and equality of all before God". It goes on to explore the priesthood of all believers with everyone having "responsibility for the maintenance of the meeting as a community". When the movement was forming during the 17th century, this was generally seen as a rejection of the ordained clergy. As an active Quaker myself, it seems right that this emphasis has now reversed and that the prevailing view is that this is "in fact an abolition of the laity"; we are all called to minister as we are able.

St.Paul focuses on this in his various letters when he refers to us all as members of the body of Christ and uses the metaphor of the parts of the body to indicate not just that we all have different roles but that we rely on one another for different kinds of ministry. And this applies as much to the internal balance of our religious gatherings for worship as to our external witness and work within society.

The essential nature of ministry makes it continuous between the church and the world, one of the concepts that draw me towards the Quaker approach. Underpinning this life is an understanding that divine guidance wells up from our inner being and becomes a resource for whatever situation we happen to be in; it often comes from entering into silence, by ourselves or with others. Through that, we can begin to recognise the present need, to perceive what we can do in response and to act accordingly.

The prophet Isaiah suggests that our strength for this derives from "quietness and trust" [30:16]. Jesus found it through prayer in the stillness of the early morning [Mk.1:35], through bring moved with pity to heal [Mk.1:41] and through perceiving in his spirit that conventional assumptions sometimes need challenging [Mk.2:8]. It seems that his inner strength derives from a still centre of care for all that he encounters; it shines through the Gospel narratives on every page and becomes the human face of love.

Read and pray with the Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, writing on the power of silence in his well-known hymn "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind":

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2004-08-23

Copyright 2004 Mike Fox
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