This week I head to the eastern U.S. to visit my folks in their new digs, have lunch with my 102-year-old grandmother, and attend the Central Committee meetings of Friends General Conference.
What's particularly interesting to me is that this year, I am attending Central Committee as a visitor, in part to see if there is still Life for me among these Friends and if I am called to reengage with this committee somehow.
Two days after I return, our small worship group gathers for our first-ever retreat, during which we plan to discover God's call for how to expand our relationships and our outward witness corporately, and how to live into God's plan for us as a worship group.
We've been using Tenth Month to offer activities and to lift up queries to children and adults to prepare ourselves:
It's unclear just exactly how to structure the retreat itself, what activities to provide because the planning committee itself isn't clear. So we will wait until God gives us a clear instruction... In the meantime, the planning committee is filling up its "toolbox" with a number of ideas of discussion topics, worship opportunities, and more. As I have heard elsewhere among Quakers, "The Spirit favors the well-prepared."
- What is our existing network of relationships? In our current network of relationships, what diversity exists? What cross-cultural relationships exist, across lines of class, race, gender, sexual orientation, and other identities? Are we called into relationships that we aren’t currently in, either with particular individuals or groups, or to build cross-cultural relationships in a particular direction?
- What are the gifts and ministries that we each carry? Are there gifts and ministries has the worship group not yet seen? As a worship group, what are our collective gifts and ministries?
- How do we name and bring life to the divine order that God calls us to bring forth? What life do the following phrases have for us: Beloved community... City of God... Kingdom of God... Gospel Order? Beyond the names, how does this vision become specific, motivating, and vivid for us and others?
- What are the needs in the communities that we are connected with? What unmet needs weigh most heavily on our hearts? Is there a concrete need or task to be completed in the local community and/or neighborhood that can help us begin the work? In the communities we are connected with, who is most marginalized?
Then, a few days after the retreat, I hit the road again and have plans to participate in FGC's consultation on gospel ministry. In FGC lingo, consultations are smallish to medium-in-size weekend gatherings of Friends around a particular topic, and the Friends who participate are there primarily by invitation by the sponsoring committee(s) or by FGC affiliated meetings at the committee's prompting (as best as I can understand, at least).
This particular consultation is being co-coordinated by the FGC Youth Ministries Program and by the FGC Traveling Ministries Program. I suspect there'll be a wonderful variety of Friends from the U.S. and Canada, as well as a mix of age-ranges, from pre-college teenage Friends to Friends in their 70s... or possibly beyond.
My personal, self-designated task is to let go of expectations and let these events unfold. But it's so easy for me to get superexcited about what might happen, who I might see, etc etc, so I hope to have the discipline to wait on the Lord, to breathe, to stay centered.
I hope to keep The Good Raised Up updated as I'm able.