Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 5th February 2023
Dear Friends The Narnia books by C. S. Lewis are about children who sometimes enter a magical land where the animals speak, and where there is a cosmic battle between … Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 5th February 2023
The Narnia books by C. S. Lewis are about children who sometimes enter a magical land where the animals speak, and where there is a cosmic battle between good and evil. Although written for children they contain some deep theological truths. In this world there is a character, Aslan, who resembles Christ in our world.“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy.” “Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great lion” “Ooh!”, said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe?” “Safe?” said Mr Beaver, “Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”
C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Meeting is usually a safe space, but there is one big risk; we cannot always escape an irresistible call to do something which seems to be beyond our inclinations, our abilities, and even our common sense. We may perceive it as coming from Christ, from the Meeting, or from some indefinable place both within us and outside of us. Quakers accept these risks, but, as you would expect, they also provide safety nets, and we have a tradition of both challenging and supporting people whether their callings are the same as ours or not.George Murphy felt called to establish a Chair of Peace Studies at a British University. His concern was tested over a period of six years, it became a concern of the whole Yearly Meeting, and Friends donated £70,000. It began in 1973 and 50 years later it is still flourishing as the Bradford School of Peace Studies.
Summarised from Listening to the Light, by Jim Pym
If you ask me for the important dates they are as follows: meeting for worship several Sundays at Morley, Wilmslow early 1967; Cambridge 22–23 September 1967, at the village of Grantchester where the message came opposite to the war memorial: ‘You shall do it and I shall help’. This message was the driving force. Friends were hesitant; some thought it very emotional, others thought it very moving. Only, I knew that that Power would never allow a failure. At the end of it all, I am compelled to think that Friends should use their faith to the utmost, but only advance their concerns after the acid test of ministry and the testing by the complete mechanism of the Quaker establishment – I know of NO other faith or church which will allow a sinner like myself to go from the bottom to the top.
George Murphy, QFP 13.04
Some of us will never feel a great calling and our task is to be faithful in small things. I think I have wasted a great deal of my life waiting to be called to some great mission which would change the world. I have looked for important social movements. I have wanted to make a big and important contribution to the causes I believe in. I think I have been too ready to reject the genuine leadings I have been given as being matters of little consequence. It has taken me a long time to learn that obedience means doing what we are called to do even if it seems pointless or unimportant or even silly. The great social movements of our time may well be part of our calling. The ideals of peace and justice and equality which are part of our religious tradition are often the focus of debate. But we cannot simply immerse ourselves in these activities. We need to develop our own unique social witness, in obedience to God. We need to listen to the gentle whispers which will tell us how we can bring our lives into greater harmony with heaven.
Deborah Haines, 1978, QFP 23.52
We live in a part of the world where the dominant motivation is material self-interest, justified by the concept of personal freedom. In these circumstances, the rich get richer and the poor, for the most part, become comparatively poorer. This offends our moral sensibility and, at the practical level, the process of material growth cannot in any event go on indefinitely. We must find some way in which we in the West can change our dominance in setting the style of the world’s living from one motivated by self-interest into one in which material resources are made available according to need. We know a good deal about this kind of distribution in particular situations but have not yet any effective idea about how to embody compassion into the essential structure of our society. This demands both thought and personal commitment at the level of where we are, not taking refuge simply in telling those with political power what they should do. We must be aware in all humility that it is we who are sinning in accepting the elevation of self-interest and that it is we who must move towards another form of motivation. What are we doing to proclaim our joyful acceptance that our living standards are going to have to drop; what are we doing to join with other Christians and concerned fellow-citizens to proclaim the vulgarity of our affluent style of living; what are we doing to find ways of influencing the way in which our fellow-citizens think and act, be they our neighbours or elected and appointed representatives, to recognise the need for change?
London Yearly Meeting, 1975 QFP 25.12
In Friendship David On behalf of the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (David Hitchin, Chris Lawson, Tim Pitt-Payne, Theresa Samms, Nancy Wall)