Welcome to this Online Meeting for Worship. Below you will find songs, scripture readings, poems, and a short message to frame and guide your time in worship. The scripture used generally (though not always) comes from the weekly Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), connecting the Friends tradition to other Christian traditions around the world. This year we are in Liturgical Year B (2017-2018).
I suggest that you open each link in a separate window and play through the beginning of the songs to get past any ads, preparing for your worship time. (Though you may want to first check to see if ads play while the songs are embedded in the post. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t! Ad blocking software is helpful in this case.) You may also want to have a candle and a journal nearby.
For some of you this worship space may be a place of sanctuary when you are away from in-person worshiping communities. For others, this worship space may help you prepare for your weekly Sunday or mid-week worship. Since this worship is designed in the manner of Programmed Quaker Worship, it includes a period of waiting worship. There are several communities around the world that host online unprogrammed Quaker worship, for which I have included links. These communities worship together at certain times each day and week, so you may want to plan your worship around theirs. We do not have a "live" worship time and place yet, though discernment is underway to designate one.
If you would like to set up a regular time to worship through this site or if you have specific prayer requests to be held by my home worshiping community, please contact me through this site. If you would like to leave a message on this page, perhaps a message that rises for you during your worship, please comment below. Messages are filtered to counter spam attempts and it may take me up to 24 hours to approve a comment.
if you would like to receive an email each week with a link to the week's worship outline as well as updates on this ministry projects, please subscribe at the bottom of this post.
Thank you for joining me in this weekly online Quaker programmed worship. May your time in worship be deep and faithful.
Centering Silence: Take a few moments to center yourself. Perhaps light a candle, find a comfortable place to sit and put away any distractions. Take a few deep breaths as you center yourself for this time of worship. Feel your body relax as your breaths become deeper. Turn your attention to the presence of the Divine throughout your body and throughout your life. When you are ready let the following worship elements guide your worship.
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember iniquity forever.
Now consider, we are all your people.
— Isaiah 64:1-9, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Scripture: “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
— Mark 13:24-37, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Message: Expectant Waiting
It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago I was expectantly waiting for the birth of my son. While carrying a baby like Jesus is something totally unknown to me, the experience of waiting expectantly for the miraculous thing that is birth feels very familiar. It’s hard to wait, regardless of what you are waiting for, and I admit I’m not the most patient person. However, thinking back on the weeks before Gideon’s birth, I am reminded of the excitement I felt, the fear, and the sense of utter unknown.
It’s different this year. Those feelings of the utter unknown, of excitement and of fears are still with me, though not because of the imminent and miraculous birth of a child. Just this past week, I’ve accepted an offer to return to work full time as a hospital chaplain. On December 18th I’ll be birthing a new part of my life and my ministry, and all the changes to our family routines that results from that kind of change. So here I am again in the place of expectant waiting. There is so much to do to get ready for this change, so much to do for the holiday season, and so much to do to spend time with my family while I can… and yet there is also that desire for the job to start and for that newness to begin. Of course there is also fear around putting Gideon in daycare, there is sadness and loss leaving my role as a stay-at-home mom, and there is a sense of unknown as I try to categorize my expectations and anticipations for what this all is going to be like and then sink into those feelings of overwhelming “I don’t knows.”
The observance of Advent though has helped me create space for this new birth and all its various feelings. This week I’ve been particularly drawn to contemplate what “expectant waiting” means in my life. What does it feel like to sink into the place of now and not-yet?
As a child I have memories of barely being able to sleep on Christmas Eve, listening for the sound of hooves on our roof. My brother and I weren’t allowed to go downstairs until our parents were awake, so early in the morning, with excitement growing and growing I would play in my room, waiting.
I wonder about how I’m teaching the practice of waiting to my son. He’s still too little this year to understand the expectant part of the Christmas tradition but I look forward to that in the years to come.
But Gideon and I do wait together for things all the time. We wait in the grocery line. We’ve waited for planes to take off and to land. (The picture above is of us doing just this!) We wait for food to cook and for laundry to finish. We wait while our snow tires are installed and we wait as roads are repaired. I can see in him the struggle, the frustration, and the desire when he’s waiting for something he really wants, like a cracker or toy. Gideon often makes grunting noises and pulls on my leg when he gets impatient. Sometimes I can pick him up so he can see the process that is making him wait. Sometimes I can’t and he sits down on the floor and cries. He communicates to me just how hard it is to wait.
But when we are waiting together for something, it’s a chance to connect and to play. Sure, he don’t understand that we have to wait while the construction vehicles move huge rocks to fix our roads, but he does understand the connection that is made when we sing together, laugh together and make funny faces together while waiting. When we both have to wait for food to be ready and hunger making us a little crazy, we can enjoy a cheese stick on the kitchen floor, him feeding bits to me and I to him.
There is something magical, something Christmastime-like about waiting with other people. There is a shared sense of the expectation and there is opportunity for connection and joy. Historically Friends waited quite a bit, after they were imprisoned for this or that, Friends would meet together to pray and build their movement. Waiting was a chance to make those connections, build friendships, and listen deeply to the movement of the Spirit. This feels like a time of waiting in our nation's history too. While there are many many people actively working to right the wrongs that are being done by our country's leaders, many of us feel pretty powerless. We end up waiting to see if and when things will change. That waiting often feels empty and frustrating. I wonder though in this time of advent if we can reframe our waiting. Can we find a place where this waiting leads us into connection? Can we find a place where this waiting leads us into organization and imagining what could be? Can we find a place where this waiting leads us to deeper listening, closer awareness and fuller discernment of God's will?
Silence-Waiting Worship: This is a time for you to turn your attention fully inward. The songs and passages and the offered message have prepared you to listen deeply to the Divine. Spend at least 20 minutes in silence listening for that still small voice of God. You may want to join an online waiting worship community. A few links for these can be found below.
When you have come to a place of closure in your waiting worship, continue on to bring your time of worship to a close.
Afterthoughts: Afterthoughts are thoughts that rose for you during waiting worship that didn’t completely form into a message. Perhaps you discerned that what was rising for you in waiting worship was a message for you alone, something not to be shared with others or perhaps you only received fragments of a message and it didn’t come together completely during the silence. Take a few minutes to journal these afterthoughts so that you can look back at them another time. Perhaps God is speaking to you through these partial messages and the fullness of their meaning will be revealed in time.
Joys and Concerns: It is traditional in Programmed Quaker Worship to have a time for the sharing of joys and concerns. Take a few moments to write down in your journal a few things from this week that you are thankful for and a few things that you are holding in prayer. Feel free to post these in the comments below as well (though remember that it may take up to 24 hours for them to be available to others to read) so that others can include your requests in their prayers and celebrate your joys alongside you.
Closing: Take another few moments of silence to close your worship time. Breathe deeply and give thanks for your time in worship today. When you feel ready, end by praying out loud, either a prayer of your own creation or the following: “O Holy One, waiting is hard. Waiting is frustrating. Waiting feels powerless. God, in these times of waiting, help me seek out connection, imagine change and listen more deeply to your will. Amen.”