Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 17th March 2024

Dear Friends, I once heard a Friend say something like this, in Ministry: I feel that meditation took me to a door.  And Quaker meetings enabled me to open the door Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 17th March 2024

Dear Friends,

I once heard a Friend say something like this, in Ministry:

I feel that meditation took me to a door.  And Quaker meetings enabled me to open the door and go inside.

I think those words stayed with me because the metaphor of passing through a door was already significant for me.  And that is partly because of a piece of writing that I have found very helpful over the last few years:  a Pendle Hill Pamphlet by an American Quaker, William Taber, called Four Doors to Meeting for Worship.

Taber talks about worship in terms of entering an invisible, eternal stream of reality which has always been there, waiting for us to join it.  And one way of entering that stream is to imagine passing through a series of four “doors”, leading us into and through the meeting for worship.

The first door is the Door Before.  This is Taber’s term for the times during the week when we are able to enter into a state of worship, even if only briefly;  perhaps first thing in the morning or last thing at night, when travelling to work, or walking to meet a friend.  These times are helpful preparation; they make it easier for us to settle into worship on a Sunday morning.

Then there is the Door Inward.  This is the point where the meeting for worship actually begins.  When is that?  Taber suggests, remarkably, that any time that we consciously focus on the meeting-to-come, we are already “beginning” it.  Viewed in this way, the meeting for worship seems less like something that happens for an hour on a Sunday morning, and more like a continuing reality which from time to time takes visible form.

Thirdly, there is the Door Within.  This is the point at which the meeting for worship has settled down and reached a sense of unity, of being “gathered”.  Taber says:

It is as if we have stepped into a living stream full of renewing, healing energy, a stream which reaches back and forward across time.

And finally there is the Door Beyond:  the point where we leave the meeting, but (hopefully) taking something from it into our everyday lives.

I’ve found this a helpful set of metaphors.  For anyone who is interested in exploring further, William Taber’s pamphlet is short, and highly readable.  Paper copies are not always easy to find, but it’s available in electronic form on Kindle.

With love from,
Tim

on behalf of the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (David Hitchin, Chris Lawson, Tim Pitt-Payne, Caroline Pybus, Theresa Samms and Nancy Wall)