3/06/2006

Sabbath or Jubilee for Pacific Yearly Meeting?

To open some of our discussions at Pacific Yearly Meeting's Representative Committee on Saturday, 3/4/2006, Joe Franko of Orange Grove Meeting, who is clerk of the yearly meeting’s Ministry & Oversight Committee, gave us an image of pruning the grapevines. He had been doing that in his own garden this week, he said. You have to prune the vine, or it grows wildly and then does not bear much fruit, as the leaves overshadow one another. He invited us to consider what pruning we might need to do in our own lives and the life of the yearly meeting.

Before the annual session, young Quakers 15-20 will be invited to participate in something called the Koinonia Project in downtown Los Angeles. It will include visits to community groups and a study of jubilee economics. In keeping with the theme of Jubilee and Sabbath!

Meeting for worship with Santa Monica Friends on Sunday morning was very powerful. The hissing and popping of the fire, cooing of an infant, and the plaintive chatter of a three-year-old all blended together with the community. And three Friends gave vocal ministry, all of them from the Representative Committee.

After meeting, Rep Comm held a two-hour threshing session on the proposal for the Yearly Meeting to take a year of discernment from 8th Month 2006 through 8th Month 2007. I’ll post the framework for that separately.

A common theme arose: “If the Yearly Meeting is anything but business as usual, then I’m for it and I’ll attend.”

Another Friend spoke movingly of an incident with her then-dying husband, when she did not set aside her busy-ness when he asked her to. Her pain and regret were evident -- and instructive. She spoke then of her attempts to find Sabbath in her life, to “sit amid the undone work and just sit in the Presence of God.”

We concluded the session with a brief and powerful time of worship, during which a Friend known for her leadings on eco-spirituality and Earth care rose to quote from the Fourth Gospel: “I am the True Vine.” I was moved to hear this unexpectedly coming from this dear Friend, who is not known for using Christian language. She captured perfectly the experience of “something larger than ourselves” we had just been through.

When we faithfully gather together in these meetings consistently over time, we get to know one another at a depth that speaks beyond these categories or words.

2 comments:

Joe G. said...

Hey, Chris,

You were in my neck of the woods and I missed you! I was unable to attend for various different reasons - friend from out of town, midterms, Oscars (sorry), prepping for London.

Anyway!

Thanks for this great post on what occurred at Representative Meeting and at my local Meeting. I hope that this idea of a Sabbath Year goes forward; I'm hoping this is how the wind of the Spirit is blowing.

Liz Opp said...

Chris,

I can see you've been involved in a number of Quaker events of late, but I don't drop in on Tables, Chairs, and Oaken Chests often enough to keep up.

The monthly meeting back home is just finishing a year of discernment, with some of us hoping that we will actually engage in a Sabbath or Jubilee year... but I'm less than hopeful at this point.

Anyway, keep up the writing and sharing. I find your perspective to be distinctive, and I look forward to seeing you at the Gathering!

Blessings,
Liz, The Good Raised Up