Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 13th August 2023
Dear Friends, Years ago, when at a gathering of former employees of the Anglican Diocese of Zululand and Swaziland, I found myself at breakfast sitting next to a monk whose … Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 13th August 2023
Years ago, when at a gathering of former employees of the Anglican Diocese of Zululand and Swaziland, I found myself at breakfast sitting next to a monk whose order hosted the conference centre where we were meeting. By way of polite conversation I said to him how much I had enjoyed taking part in the Eucharist which had just been celebrated in their chapel (unusually for those days, we had stood in a circle receiving Communion from one neighbour and handing a wafer and then the cup to the neighbour on the other side). The monk’s reply was on the lines of ‘what you get out of worship is in proportion to what you put into it’. Only his words were much more gracious and probably spoken frequently to other visitors.
Just lately I have been feeling the need to be much more appreciative of our Meeting for Worship. I still miss singing the hymns of my Anglican days, and in our silence I have to work much harder to keep focused during Meeting. However I recently came across something in QF&P 2.40 which suggested the writer found the Real Presence of God in Meeting for Worship. This reminds me of the monk’s wisdom all those years ago, and it seems to me that there is a very real giving and receiving taking place during our time together. That doesn’t mean we all have the same input. Of course not. Within the stillness there is room for sorrow, rejoicing, concern, regrets, emptiness, fullness, peacefulness, even just being fully present, and much more. Worship is a sort of give-and-take between a person and the divine. We are not unique in this practice: all the main world religions suggest that listening in silence plays a part. Christian and Buddhist monks and nuns all have room for silence. Islam considers silence to be sacred and one of the first stages of worship. Hindus say ‘without silence you cannot progress far on the spiritual path’. Judaism says ‘if we are truly in awe of the greatness of G-d, the vastness of the universe and almost infinite extent of time, our deepest emotions will indeed lie too deep for words. We will experience silent communion.’ So we are not alone in seeking the still small voice in this vast kaleidoscope of immeasurable divinity.
So it seems to me that our Meeting is something like an earthly kaleidoscope of response to the divine kaleidoscope. A bit of a mystery.
On behalf of the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (David Hitchin, Chris Lawson, Tim Pitt-Payne, Caroline Pybus, Theresa Samms and Nancy Wall)