I'm Rhonda and this is my first post for Me in Worship. My blog is part of my larger adventure, www.thereligioussocietycafe.com, where we praise God and the Spirit of Joy serves glad tidings in word, song, poem, and prayer. The reason for the religious society cafe came about because the Quaker Church discourages praise of God and joy in Him. Though not often overt disapproval, the subtlety of it makes it much weightier.
This was puzzling to me because I had come to Quaker Meeting as an active disbeliever in God. I went ostensibly for my children's sake; however, God intended it for my own sake.
If you know nothing of Quaker Meeting for Worship, let me explain: it is unprogrammed, meaning there is no program to follow, no hired minister to deliver a message. If there's singing before worship begins, it's because the Meeting is moved by the Holy Spirit to sing. Ideally, one arrives early for meeting so as to prepare for worship. Worship itself is held in silence. This is to "wait upon the Lord" to hear His voice. For you see, in a true (I use the adjective purposely) Quaker Meeting, Christ is the minister.
When I heard God's voice one summer day--I recount this event in song--I was, as Isaac Penington would say, broken and shattered, meaning my heart was opened. This opening led me to such great joy and discovery that I wanted to shout it, share it, and declare it. Yet, there were none among the Meeting whom I could discern had even an inkling of joy. And so began my long task of trying to bring those professed Quakers to the place where I was. That's when the discouragment began.
It seemed obvious to me that these Quakers did not know George Fox's preachings. I thought that if only they heard George Fox's words, their spirit would be quickened as mine had been. I read his words to the Meeting with urgency and passion.
Their spirits were not quickend. Some because they were "birthright" Quakers and perhaps felt they had absorbed the religion; others because they were agnostic, atheist, pantheist, or refugees from another church and came to Meeting because there's no preacher.
After many years and attempts to proselytize active disbelievers in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I was led by the Lord to leave the established Quaker Church, but not the Quaker way. I tried to go to other Protestant Churches, even attending a Congregational Church for maybe a year or so. I felt so removed from God, from the very substance of my being, that I eventually went back to the Quaker Meeting hoping to experience His presence again.
Still, when you're among disbelievers, God rages in you against them. I went home to worship alone until I could be clear on how to assemble a new Quaker community: a community of people gathered in Spirit and Truth to worship God.
The idea of the Religious Society Cafe was given to me by the Lord. Initially conceived as a physical place where people could gather Monday through Saturday at 8:45 A.M. for fifteen minutes worship and then go joyfully on their way or have coffee and eats, the cost of such an endeavor was prohibitive. But not so a virtual cafe and community.
Since the idea was given me, I've been worshiping for fifteen minutes Monday thru Saturday. The joy, the wisdom, the knowledge that's given to me from that worship, I'll share with you. Maybe you'll be encouraged to access that source yourself, for I cannot tell you what gifts God has for you. In worshiping together, even virtually, we will experience a common joy in His presence and together will sing His praises.