On Sunday I worshiped with others in a building that has not been a place of worship since 1969. There was only natural lighting, no plumbing. The building was much like it was in the 19th century. The building was inherited by Western Yearly Meeting, and was deliberately restored to show what a meetinghouse looked like in the 19th century.
When we came, there were three recorded ministers and some recognized elders with us. They were asked to take their place in the facing bench. We spend the first half hour reading scripture to one another, as best we could under natural lighting. After this we fell into a period of traditional, unplanned Quaker worship.
I prayed for the nation, for my family and friends, for my neighbors. I listened to the ministry of about a half dozen Friends. I listened to the rain and the sound of the nearby road, and I looked out the window at the old Friend’s cemetery, and remembered the great cloud of witnesses that had come before us.
I believe that God was with us — the community who was there at that moment. We met in an unused 19th century building, but we met believing that wherever 2 or three gather in Christ’s name, Christ is there with us. We were only a temporary community, but in that moment we were a Christian community. There was no planned sermon, no planned music, just a small group of people praying together. It was, (forgive me Quakers,) church.
Currently, I am candidating to become a pastor, trying to sell my ability to plan programs and create events. One hopes that my education goes a long way to qualifying me to run a non-profit organization. One hopes that I’ve learned at least some by virtue of doing when it comes to event planning. I hope that I can write sermons that challenge people to think about how to integrate their faith into their lives. I hope that I can listen and be present with people as they privately struggle with their issues of faith. I hope I can do those things that I was trained to do.
No matter what, I cannot create what happened Sunday. If I preach excellent sermons that people want to hear, and they meet to hear my sermons, I have not grown the church, just my own followers. I don’t know what the future holds — but, I will pray that God continues to gather people together to meet in Christ’s name.