Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 30th June 2024

Dear Friends, Our Friend, Elizabeth Dexter, who died in 1987, was a GP and an artist; possibly the first person to draw a diagram of the structure of DNA which Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 30th June 2024

Dear Friends,

Our Friend, Elizabeth Dexter, who died in 1987, was a GP and an artist; possibly the first person to draw a diagram of the structure of DNA which was discovered by Rosalind Franklin, James Crick and Francis Watson. After suffering a stroke she almost lost her ability to speak. but in spite of that she occasionally stood to minister. Sometimes there were a few words before “I cannot say”, and while another Friend might complete a quotation, usually her words were incomplete. The few words that she could say meant more to the meeting than most longer ministries.

In a gathered meeting there may be few spoken words, but there is rich ministry. An hour passes quickly. Other meetings are lifeless. They may be full of words, but there is little ministry, little that is of service. Time drags and people feel the need to fill the silence.

A gathered meeting has the strength to absorb the differences and support the needs of those who attend it; this is easier when the meeting is a community of people who know and trust each other, who are not afraid to share their experience of worship and to learn from one another.

All true ministry springs from the reality of experience and uses our gifts of heart and mind in its expression. But ministry is not the place for intellectual exercise. It comes through us, not from us. Although we interpret the Spirit it is that Spirit which will lead us to minister. The Spirit will decide which experiences are relevant and which will speak to the condition of the meeting. If you have to decide whether it is right to speak, consider that it isn’t. If your words are important the meeting will find them anyway.

Adapted from a Young Friends’ Conference, Exploring the fundamental elements of Quakerism, 1986, QFP 2.38 and 2.60

Remember that to every one is given a share of responsibility for the meeting for worship, whether that service be in silence or through the spoken word. Do not assume that vocal ministry is never to be your part. If the call to speak comes, do not let the sense of your own unworthiness, or the fear of being unable to find the right words, prevent you from being obedient to the leading of the Spirit. Ask wisdom of God that you may be sure of your guidance and be enabled humbly to discern and impart something of his glory and truth. Pray that your ministry may rise from the place of deep experience, and that you may be restrained from unnecessary and superficial words. Faithfulness and sincerity in speaking, even very briefly, may open the way to fuller ministry from others. Try to speak audibly and distinctly, with sensitivity to the needs of your fellow worshippers. Wait to be sure of the right moment for giving the message. Beware of making additions towards the end of a meeting when it was well left before.

Advices, 1964, QFP 2.55

David

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