Quaker Conversations #10

Come to the Table: Reflections on Quakerism and preparing the table for what comes next

Having served Friends as FWCC’s General Secretary for nine years, I have travelled extensively among Friends and felt welcome everywhere.  I learned a lot and want to reflect on this now at the end of my time of service.

The table was known to Jesus as a place to give blessing, to break bread together, and to give to those who were ready to listen.  It becomes a place to remember the blessings of God and to experience joy and grace.  It is also a place to heal brokenness and regret, to allow others to affirm each of us as contributors, as children of God.

I have shared meals with Friends in many parts of the world. And each time I sit down, I have always felt exceedingly grateful for the food and the loving hands that prepared it. But most importantly, I have felt thankful for the spiritual nourishment that came from sitting around the table as I watched one another to be delighted to be in each other’s presence. I believe it is witnessing the gifts of the spirit shown in each other through our varied cultures and ways of being Quaker that has continued to sustain us.

Over the years, I have watched as we expanded the table, bringing around more tables and chairs, as an act of encouragement for everyone to gather.  Our table is huge, and our welcome is palpable.  

I will admit, there have also been difficult conversations at the table with Friends as we struggle to find a common language for certain aspects of our faith. We have found this to be a challenge in our sustainability work.

But we are at the table, ready to have the conversation. Ready to listen and ask questions where we didn’t understand. Because we want to understand. 

Quakers, and many people of faith, are given to the world to represent God in the world.  God wants us to rescue and renew his, and our, creation.  We are called to God’s mission.  We are called to be co-creators with God.

But what does this mean for us?  The covid-19 pandemic has given us a rich opportunity to reset, to recalibrate our thinking, our systems, our way of life.  We have many assumptions to disrupt, and narratives to rewrite.  We have a lot of soul-searching ahead of us. I believe God is our guide to help us along the way.

This year has taught us that we have witnessed the need to keep coming to the table.  

We need to listen, we need to learn, and we need to be together. This year we hosted a monthly webinar series to do just that – to listen to what concerned us, and to learn from our Quaker work. Now, for the last Quaker Conversation session before taking a break for the summer, I want to ask ‘what comes next’?

What is our responsibility to serve the world, to gather the Quaker voice?  How can we take on God’s mission of renewing creation, of actively living into love?  How can we be faithful to what we see as a spiritual imperative?  How can we best serve the world, while accompanying each other in our Quaker journey?

Join the Quaker Conversation session with Gretchen and Friends on June 26th at 12 noon UK Time. Register online.