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Tuesday, March 10, 2020
O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity, interpreted by love!
“Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” (v. 3) by John Greenleaf Whittier
Hymn 169, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
John Greenleaf Whittier, a Quaker (Friend) poet, wrote this text in 1872. It is fitting that he celebrates silence. While all Quakers meet in worship to hear God’s “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12), Friends in the unprogrammed Quaker tradition base their worship entirely on expectant waiting. They embody the psalmist’s advice to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Friends meet in unadorned rooms to be less distracted from hearing God’s voice. They sit facing one other as equal ministers before God. They have no prearranged prayers, readings, sermons, hymns, or musical orchestrations, because they wait for God’s leadings (guidance and direction) and power in their lives.
During worship, messages may come for personal reflection or for sharing on another occasion. Friends value spoken messages that come from the heart, prompted by the Spirit. They also value the silence they share together. Following a spoken message, they return to silence to examine themselves in the Light of that message.
Through their common experience of God’s presence, within and among them, they have come to realize that there is something of the Divine in everyone. Friends refer to this as “the Christ Within,” “the Inward Light,” and “the Seed of Truth.” Their experience has led them to understand that God’s inward guiding presence is universal. Anyone anywhere can experience God directly. Anyone at any time may express God’s leadings. Therefore, revelation, or messages from God, is continuous.
Silence has been the primary means through which I have experienced God’s presence and heard God speak. I hope this Lent you will carve out sabbath moments just as Jesus did, to share with God “the silence of eternity, interpreted by love.”
Calm my heart in your sacred presence, O God, that your love may permeate my whole being. Amen.
Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission
Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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