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Quaker Life – November/December 2013

Bearing One Another’s Burdens

In Galatians 6, the Apostle Paul urges people to carry their own load. We have a burden or a bundle of human responsibility that is ours to manage. We are responsible for it and as best as we are able, we ought to shoulder it on our own rather than expecting others to be responsible for us.

In the same passage, however, Paul recognizes a wholly other instance when a burden may become more than we can bear. He doesn’t distinguish how this burden came to be — either by our own doing, through life-circumstances or by the hand of another. Instead, he only recognizes this reality and commands the community to handle these people and situations with skill and compassion, rather than by ignoring the problem or standing in judgment. The community is to be an instrument of God’s healing in the life of an individual who is entangled in sin, suffering in hurt or feeling crushed by the weight of a life they no longer feel able to bear alone.

How well-equipped are our communities to adequately and authentically bear one another’s burdens in a way that fulfills the law of Christ and ushers in the deep healing many need? Do we allow room for people to honestly expose their wounds? Are we assembling and mobilizing skilled and mature elders or care teams with the courage and wisdom to accurately assess and diagnose problems and pain, coupled with the wisdom and compassion to handle it gently and appropriately within a larger community?

How ready is your community to respond when a young or old Friend asks you to bear a burden they can no longer carry alone? How might you be called to serve in this way?

Colin Saxton – General Secretary, Friends United Meeting

Bear One Another’s Burdens - By Helene Pollock

“The hard work we are engaged in together is possible because the long-haul staying power comes from none other than the risen Christ!”

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John Whitehead: Bearing the Weight of Others – By Steve Martin

“Only three Civil War chaplains received the nation’s highest honor for military bravery. One of them was Wayne County’s Reverend John Milton Whitehead.”

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A Faithful Responsibility – By Dave Kingrey

“Bearing one another’s burdens is central to the Christian community and becomes a joyful responsibility when strengthened by the resources of the living Christ.”

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No Pearls Before Swine – By William H. Mueller


“In the gospel of John “pearls before swine” is expressed — like almost everything in that gospel — as a dramatic image of Jesus addressing the burden of the outcast.”

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Learning to Be a Circle of Care - By Patricia C. Thomas


“When we share the burden of caring for one another, we give witness to God’s all-encompassing compassion as the great Curegiver, and we go forth with the promise that Christ companions us each step of the way.”

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Relentless Love - By Sabrina Falls

“We must yield our actions, thoughts and hearts to God, putting our trust and faith in Jesus Christ… who alone can save us by the relentless love of God.”

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Christmas, 1847 - By Rob Collard

“The soft whoosh of runners gliding through deep snow and the gentle, yet joyful jingle of the bells of the horse-drawn sleigh bearing Elizabeth Scattergood…”

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Other Articles In This Issue:

Staff Columns

Out of My Mind – Colin Saxton
Grace Always – Eden Grace
Spreading the Word – Micah Bales

FUM News and Updates

FUM News in Brief
My Trip to the US – Judy Ngoya

Other Content

Carry One Another’s Burdens – Michael Jay
Lifting the Burden – Eden Grace
Ask Tom: How did early Friends take care of each other? – Thomas Hamm
Book Reviews
Passages: Quaker Obituaries