At worship this morning, an older Christocentric Friend stood to deliver ministry. She spoke about how nontheistic Friends have always puzzled her, and about how she had taken the opportunity to attend a gathering of nontheistic Friends at Quarterly Meeting.
Since this meeting, the Spirit has been moving in her life. She realized that her use of the word "God" had been getting in the way of her spiritual experience. She talked about letting go of belief in God and embracing her own agnosticism. She stressed her continuing faith in Jesus as teacher and her ongoing commitment to living by his commandments. She spoke with puzzlement and amusement about being a born-again agnostic Christocentric Friend.
This Friend's ministry touched many hearts, including mine. Several Friends who rarely speak in Meeting rose to share their own stories about identity and their relationship to the Meeting. They spoke about the challenge of setting aside judgment and listening for that of God in everyone's words, and about how that challenge helps us move more deeply into the Spirit.
Towards the end of Meeting, a Friend rose to observe that today is Pentecost, the day on which the disciples spoke in tongues to the people of Jerusalem. He quoted Acts 2:16-18 In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
He went on to say that he has often thought that Quakerism is a deeply Pentecostal faith, a faith that puts its trust in the guidance of the Spirit. He then observed that we don't so much speak in tongues as listen in tongues.
I closed Meeting a little late, reluctant to emerge from the communion with my dear Friends. My heart was full and tender, and I felt deeply blessed to be with this extraordinary group of people. I felt awed by the power of the Spirit to work in every heart in the Meeting, humbled by the honest words that Friends had shared about their own spiritual journeys.
What a gift we have been given, the ability to listen in tongues. Each soul in our Meeting gathers to try to listen to the Truth beyond our words. We strive to listen with our hearts, not our minds. We strive to tend that of God in each person, even when we don't understand it.