Ministry by Women

I recently ran across a long-winded and long-worded blog about whether women should be permitted to “preach” to a congregation.    None of the points raised on either side of this question pertain to vocal ministry in a Friends meeting for worship.   None of us is to come to worship with anything prepared to say.  None of us has the authority to permit or to forbid anyone else to speak.

We Friends gather to wait upon Christ, alive and present in and among us, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Mat 18:20   It is He who chooses to speak or not, to say whatever He chooses through whomever He chooses.

“And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.   And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.  But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp.  And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.  And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.  And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!” Num 11:24-29

Moses knew that it is the Lord, not a seminary degree, which authors the prophetic message – a message directed at the specific people and their unique conditions in the meeting for worship at that moment, not a sermon labored over in advance, made by human hands, in some other time and place.   As to the specific question of whether women may share in the gift or ministry, we say: “And may not the Spirit of Christ speak in the female as well as the male? Who is it that dare limit the Holy One of Israel? For the Light is the same in the male and in the female, and it cometh from Christ. . . . And who is it that dare stop Christ’s mouth?”-  George Fox  From our very beginnings, Friends have not only acknowledged but welcomed the gifts of vocal ministry with which our women have edified us all.

An extensive treatise on women speaking in ministry, see Margaret (Fell) Fox.

For more discussion of true Christ-authored ministry, see this tract.

2019 National Day of Prayer

The following was the introduction given at the Middleburg Heights, Ohio 2019 National Day of Prayer event

The theme for today’s National Day of Prayer is, “Love one another. Just as I have loved you.” John 13:34 That is a wonderful thought, that all people would love one another, but what did Jesus mean by “as I have loved you?” Did he mean the love that a child has for a candy bar? The erotic love of a man and a woman? The indulgent love of grandparents for a toddler?

Jesus gave this command to His disciples just after He had washed their feet to give them an example of the love He meant – a love that wills what is best for the other (not necessarily what the other would like at the moment).

How else did Jesus love His disciples? He radiated love to them so strongly that when He called “Follow me,” they dropped their fish nets, walked away from their families, and joined a life of complete trust in, and dependence on, Christ. Even when He sent them off to preach, with no food, no money, no change of clothes, His love provided, and they lacked nothing.

Jesus loved His disciples in a way that totally transformed their lives – from lives toiling in and for the world to lives lived eternally in the spirit.

What does all this have to do with our day of prayer?

We look upon the immensity and complexity of the universe that God has created, and the natural laws by which He constantly maintains it, and we pray in awe.

We look upon the miracle of life, the way in which all other living species complement and sustain each other according to God’s laws. We consider the gift God has given us to share in this life, and we pray in gratitude.

Then we look upon the world of human beings, the only species that may disobey God’s laws, and we see hunger, exploitation, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, wars … and we pray in remorse. “For from within, out of the hearts of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blaspheme, pride, foolishness.” (Mar 7:21) “From whence come wars and fighting among you?” (Jas 4:1) “All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mar 7:23)

So as we pray today for the many ways in which we would like to see God’s kingdom come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we must pray first of all for Christ, who dwells within each person as a seed, to rise up and take control and deliver us from the evil within ourselves, as He has the power to do when we submit. For the Kingdom is at hand, and it grows here on earth as, one by one, we yield ourselves to His will, to be done in our hearts and in our lives. Then we can love one another as Christ has loved us.

Quaker Worship

Deep within there is a place
Beyond the reach of time and space,
Where worries pale and demons flee
Confronted by Eternity.

And some one there who calls my name
Tells me like Him to be the same,
The body’s death is not a loss
When soul finds life upon the cross.

There is no need for spoken word
Where Christ’s own voice within is heard.
No choir’s hymn, no organ’s chord
But soundless anthems from the Lord

As received by Conrad Lindes 4/1/2019

Who is not greedy?

In the wee hours of this morning, I could not sleep. I felt oppressed by the flaws of our political state. Politicians of both major parties are running up a huge national debt. Their primary concern seems to be to keep themselves in office, not by earning majority votes by voting for laws that benefit the majority of citizens, but by using bribes and kickbacks from special interests to buy votes with “earmarks” for those special interests and with “entitlement” programs which, in the guize of helping the less fortunate, really addict them to government largess. Surely the end result of this way of doing things is the bankruptcy of our nation, with terrible suffering for all.

What, I wondered, can I do to help turn things around? How can I be part of the solution? Then I asked myself, am I part of the problem?

The underlying motive of our current national politics is the desire of people to get income that they have not earned through producing goods and services of true value. This desire has a name – GREED. Yes, Senators and Representatives seem, more often than not, to be greedy. The businesses and organizations which lobby them are certainly greedy. But what about people on welfare? Aren’t they taking income without producing things of equal value? What about me, on Social Security? What am I producing of value? And what does all this have to do with my claim to be a follower of Christ?

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemiesMat 14:19 Isn’t greed also and evil, which comes from our hearts? Isn’t there greed in my heart?
Dear Lord, with your Light that shines in my heart, let me see my own greed and rid me of it. Then show me how to turn others to that Light so that they, too, can see and let go their greed. Help me to articulate the peace and joy that are the reward of submission to baptism of Christ, that washes away greed and other evil and makes us able to live together, each as a unique and essential part of His body.

You can’t make me!

“You can’t make me!” I would screech at my big brother when he tried to boss me around.   He would order me to do some chore of his, or to do something foolish so that he could laugh at me, or in some other way seek to rule over me.   My resistance was not just that I did not want to do what he told me, but that I refused to acknowledge that he had any valid authority to give me orders at all.    “You’re not my father!”  I would holler.

Now that I am grown up, though, do I accede to the jurisdiction of the world and its “powers” over my life without a thought, let alone without rebellion?   I get so many orders from this benighted world’s wisdom.   “Be dishonest,” “Be impatient,” “Be judgemental,”  “Get revenge,” and so on.   So many other people, in all walks of life, set an example for obeying such commands.    But then I turn to the light, the Truth.

The author of these orders is not my father.  Why should I listen to him?   He is not even my big brother!    But I do have a Father in heaven, and He tells me His way for me to live: “Be honest,” Be patient,” Do not judge,” “Forgive!”   And I have a big brother who is right here at my side at every moment, not do put me down, but to lift me up, as He himself was lifted up in complete obedience to our Father.  That big brother, Jesus Christ, wants nothing less than for me to be joyfully with Him in the care of that loving Father.

Next time a command comes from the darkness that wants to dominate my heart, let me shout in defiance, “You can’t make me!” and turn to the Light.