Worship God in Spirit and in Truth—that’s one thing we Friends are called to do. There’s more. Work for peace. Witness God’s work in the world—both its failure and its fruition. Live close to the center, in prayer. Construct our lives listening to God’s whisper, and following faithfully. Celebrate—be God’s chorus.
When the world sees us—the secular world or other faith communities—they don’t see evangelical Friends, or conservative Friends, or pastoral Friends. They see the Religious Society of Friends. That can be a bit challenging but, really, the world offers a gift. Because connecting with each other as a diverse, cantankerous, loving community of faith—certainly that, too, is where God calls us. We sometimes fall short—we are Friends but also human after all. Absolutely. But when we manage it—when we come together with open hearts and open ears, we’re totally awesome. We differ, but when we listen deeply to each other we come to know each other, to love each other, we open ourselves up to deeper faithfulness. We are most successful at doing God’s work when we embrace each other. And there is no denying that some real fundamental differences exist. Certainly. Equally, vital common understandings bind us together. Calling ourselves branches of Friends is a good metaphor; we are of the same tree.
The sassafras tree is indigenous to eastern North America. It doesn’t grow as far north as my home in Vermont and hopefully New England maple-tree-centric Friends will overlook my fondness for it. Its root was used until recently to make a soothing medicinal tea, and is the source of the original root beer. Its leaves are fragrant. All well and good but what fascinates me about the sassafras tree is that each tree has three (or four, depending on how you count them) different shaped leaves. How cool is that?
We are much like the sassafras tree with sweet, healing things to offer and differently shaped leaves. We share a history and a common vision of finding the Divine without intermediaries—our trunk and our root. Sometimes we might focus on the different shapes of our leaves—and that’s okay to do, even healthy on occasion. We can argue and disagree and get grumpy with each other. And, while we do that, we can also be open to those essential connections, the deeper understandings of God’s call and God’s presence we share. We are all part of the same tree—well, maybe it’s not a sassafras tree, maybe it’s a vine we’re all part of (John 15:4-6), but you get the idea. —cdw
• Give thanks for the successful conclusion of the FWCC World Gathering in Kenya. Friends from all around the world gathered worship, discussion and fellowship. It was well attended and appreciated!
• Pray for FUM staff member Judith Ngoya who will be having surgery this week, that God would be with her surgeons and that she will have a full and speedy recovery.
• Pray for the safe return home for all the Friends who traveled to Kenya for the World Gathering hosted by FWCC, and that their receiving communities would be supportive in their time of processing and translating what they have gained from the experience.
• Pray for the Friends who are continuing their time in Kenya by visiting Friends in Turkana this week.
• Give thanks with Christian Peace Teams for the recent victory of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, a First Nations community, in protecting their traditional lands—including sacred grave sites—from mining. Pray that Ontario officials would respect the KI government as they resume talks about the lands. (Prayers for Peacemakers, April 25, 2012)
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