Welcome to this Online Meeting for Worship. Below you will find songs, scripture or poems, and a short message to frame and guide your time in worship. Each week, by Friday I will be publishing a new worship outline. The scripture used generally (though not always) comes from the weekly Revised Common Lectionary, connecting the Friends tradition to other Christian traditions around the world. For some of you this worship space may be a place of sanctuary when you are away from in-person worshiping communities. For others, this worship space may help you prepare for your weekly Sunday or mid-week worship.
I suggest that you open each link in a separate window and play through the beginning of the songs to get over any ads, preparing for your worship time. (Though you may want to first check to see if ads play while the songs are embedded in the post. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t!) You may also want to have a candle and a journal nearby. Since this worship is designed in the manner of Programmed Quaker Worship, it includes a period of waiting worship. There are several communities around the world that host online unprogrammed Quaker worship, for which I have included links. These communities worship together at certain times each day and week, so you may want to plan your worship around theirs.
If you would like to set up a regular time to worship through this site or if you have specific prayer requests to be held by my home worshiping community, please contact me through this site. If you would like to leave a message on this page, perhaps a message that rises for you during your worship, please comment below. Messages are filtered to counter spam attempts and it may take me up to 24 hours to approve a comment. Thank you for joining me in this weekly online Quaker programmed worship. May your time in worship be deep and faithful.
Advent II: The Lion and the Lamb
Centering Silence: Take a few moments to center yourself. Perhaps light a candle, find a comfortable place to sit and put away any distractions. Take a few deep breaths as you center yourself for this time of worship. Feel your body relax as your breaths become deeper. Turn your attention to the presence of the Divine throughout your body and throughout your life. When you are ready let the following worship elements guide your worship.
Scripture: "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious." ( Isaiah 11:1-10, New International Version)
Scripture: " In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:1-12, New International Version)
Message: The Lion and the Lamb
The picture at this top of this post is The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks, a Quaker in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s who traveled as a Quaker minister for many years until settling down to paint later in life. (His cousin Elias was responsible for the Quaker split and the term Hicksite). Edward painted over 60 versions of The Peaceable Kingdom which was inspired by the passage from Isaiah 11:6-8 giving illustration to the God’s call for a right and redeemed society. It is a picture that has hung in just about every Quaker meeting house that I have attended; an icon of the Quaker pacifist stance—a call for us all to work to bring the Peaceable Kingdom into reality.
About five years ago I spent some time living and working in Seattle, Washington. While I was there I attended University Friends Meeting. It was around this time that the Sculpture Rich Beyer died, a Friend who had attend the meeting many years before. A Friend whom I was close to was asked by the meeting to write up a memorial minute for Rich and I was privy to learn about Rich as she researched his life. Erected not far from my F/friends’ house in the neighborhood of Madrona was one of the many public sculptures of Rich’s that stood throughout the city of Seattle. It is a aluminum sculpture that sits on a large stone titled “The Peaceable Kingdom.”
The library of Rich Beyer Scupture writes: “The symbolism of this sculpture is integral to the community where is stands. The Madrona district in Seattle is and was an interracial community. The period from the late 1960s through the end of 1970s was a period when the poor black population was expressing intimidation toward the more wealthy white population and tensions were high. The Black Panther organization had its headquarters in Madrona, and was helping poor children by providing breakfasts in the interracial schools of the district. By the early 1980s the neighborhood had begun to stabilize, with Blacks and Whites living together peaceably. The Madrona Community Council asked Beyer to create a sculpture that would acknowledge the success of the community in handling its differences. The funds came from a Block Grant for public sculpture. Beyer’s creation brings together the “Pigs” and the “Panthers,” and the “angry young men” and the “little old ladies.””
Growing up with Edward Hick’s painting as part of my religious imagination, The Peaceable Kingdom was first a simple manner of us all holding hands and singing kumbaya, and then an impossible ideal that I had to believe in as I did international peace work. Yet there in Seattle, stands a sculpture that in its raw beauty brings together the best and the worst of interracial living. There is a reality depicted of Pigs and Panthers and wolves and lambs and a symbolic beauty of them in peaceful interaction. I wonder what The Peaceable Kingdom looks like today? Are there answers to the violence and oppression of our day that both acknowledge the raw reality that is experienced and moves us towards peaceful reconciliation?
John the Baptist came before Jesus saying ““Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” Who and what are the voices preparing the way for the Peaceable Kingdom to come about here on earth? Are these voices taken seriously today? Are they ours? How are we listening?
Silence-Waiting Worship: This is a time for you to turn your attention fully inward. The songs and passages and the offered message have prepared you to listen deeply to the Divine. Spend at least 20 minutes in silence listening for that still small voice of God. You may want to join an online waiting worship community. A few links for these can be found below.
When you have come to a place of closure in your waiting worship, continue on to bring your time of worship to a close.
Afterthoughts: Afterthoughts are thoughts that rose for you during waiting worship that didn’t completely form into a message. Perhaps you discerned that what was rising for you in waiting worship was a message for you alone, something not to be shared with others or perhaps you only received fragments of a message and it didn’t come together completely during the silence. Take a few minutes to journal these afterthoughts so that you can look back at them another time. Perhaps God is speaking to you through these partial messages and the fullness of their meaning will be revealed in time.
Joys and Concerns: It is traditional in Programmed Quaker Worship to have a time for the sharing of joys and concerns. Take a few moments to write down in your journal a few things from this week that you are thankful for and a few things that you are holding in prayer. Feel free to post these in the comments below as well (though remember that it may take up to 24 hours for them to be available to others to read) so that others can include your requests in their prayers and celebrate your joys alongside you.
Closing: Take another few moments of silence to close your worship time. Breath deeply and give thanks for your time in worship today. When you feel ready end in vocal prayer, either of your own creation or read out loud the following: “Holy One, make clear to us the Peaceable Kingdom that you wish to make manifest in our world. Guide our thoughts, actions, and hearts towards creating the reality spoken of by Isaiah. Propel us to prepare the way for a peaceful world, one of rich and hard relationships, one of justice and righteousness for all. Amen.”