Wednesday, 14 November 2018

It’s the way we live that really matters

QUAKERS from all over the country, with some representatives from around the world, meet together once a year to discuss issues, enjoy each other’s company and worship together. We call it Yearly Meeting and the sequence has not been broken in 350 years.

Each year an epistle is sent from Yearly Meeting to every Quaker Meeting in the country, so those Friends who were unable to attend are given the sense of the Meeting and in that way are included.

The epistle is always a loving greeting and each word is considered carefully by the Friends gathered at the Britain Yearly Meeting.

This is an extract from this year’s epistle: “Viewed from a distance, our Quaker community may seem like a single body. Up close, it sparkles in its infinite variety. Diversity in our beliefs and language is a richness, not a flaw.

“We each choose our own words and together our stories make a whole. We are not only individuals, but also part of a church.”

Quakers do not have a creed. We are not expected to say we believe this, or believe that. We all come from different backgrounds, some religious, some not.

What we do say is that we should respect each other and what may seem unfamiliar words to you may bring comfort to the next person.

A young lad I know said that he had been thinking about religion and described it like this: “Think of a large picture and if you look closely you can see it is made up of thousands of individual pixels. Well, I think we are all the pixels and the whole picture is God.”

What an astonishingly profound thought for a
14-year-old.

Some find the language of the Bible comforting, some find it unhelpful and alien to them.

As Quakers, we are advised to respect that of God in everyone though it may be expressed in unfamiliar ways or be difficult to discern.

We are reminded to listen patiently and seek the truth which other people’s opinions may contain for us.

As a Friend said recently, what you believe is not so important — it’s the way you live your life that
matters.

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