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Queries for Session #3 of Friendly 7s

Worship Sharing on Vocal Ministry


The following are excerpts are from William Taber, Four Doors to Meeting for Worship, Pendle Hill Pamphlet #306:

When we have once entered into that experience of communion, we realize that we did not create it through our action of worship; all we did was to enter a reality which has always been there from the beginning of time, waiting for us to join it, for "In the beginning was the Word." Devout souls across history have experienced this reality, this Logos. It is always here within us and beside us, available to us as an invisible steam into which we can step at any time. The heart of worship is communion with this invisible but eternal stream of reality in which is the living and eternal Christ… One way to enter the stream is to imagine passing through a series of four stages or doors which lead into and through the meeting for worship.
(Introduction)


Thus, entering the Door Before might be thought of as dipping again and again into the living stream, so that when we come to the Sunday meeting for worship we are returning to a familiar reality which has been renewing and tenderizing us all week.
(On entering the first door: The Door Before)


Imagine being in that Stream of Divine Presence which has been present in creation from the beginning of time. Imagine being irradiated by the transforming love of God on all the secret and hidden levels of your being, even down all the corridors of memory.
(On entering the second door: The Door Inward)


This experience of being united with a group which is "waiting on the Lord" can be described in many ways, even though no single one of them is adequate alone, and even though no single person will experience all of them, at least in the same meeting. For many people it feels like having been lifted or expanded into another state of consciousness which enjoys an inward, effortless quietness. At the same time the mind slows down into a reverie-like state, akin to, though not quite the same, as the reverie one falls into when sitting by the seashore or by a mountain stream, when time drops away or becomes irrelevant. Some may experience this as an effortless flow of images across the mind, which pauses now and then with an image which seems to have special significance… Or we may be drawn into an effortless flow of prayer.
(On entering the third door: The Door Within)


Then I gradually learned about and experienced other kinds of ministry which may be more important than spoken ministry. Whereas the spoken ministry must always he limited to a very few people in any meeting for worship, this more important silent ministry is open to everyone in the meeting. I discovered during my renewed apprenticeship in this silent ministry that the inconspicuous, invisible ministry of people who may never speak in meeting is often more important than the spoken ministry! This "invisible ministry" helps the meeting reach that state of consciousness in which minds and hearts and wills are opened and united so that the work of God may go on among us. The faithfulness of such invisible, secret ministry not only feeds and inspires gifted vocal ministry, but it also helps prepare the meeting to be receptive to life-changing ministry when it comes.
(On ministry from The Door Within)


Yet this privileged experience of nourishing oneness must end sometime, and we must proceed through the Door Beyond, shifting back to the more "normal" state of everyday consciousness. Even as the levels of consciousness begin to shift, we know that there are consequences from our having been here. Perhaps we shall discover an increased flexibility as we return to the world outside of the meetinghouse. Perhaps the "normal" world will seem more beautiful, more full of possibilities because we have been given a clearer, keener focus, a more accurate way of seeing what is really there.
(On entering the fourth door: The Door Beyond)



Queries for Friendly 7s Session #3:

  • Not everyone who comes to Meeting for Worship receives the gift of spoken ministry, but most are able to experience the gifts of “communion,” and “nourishing oneness“ described above.
    1. What has been your experience of the “silent ministry” Taber describes?
    2. Are you aware of helping to create the sacred space and "state of consciousness in which hearts and wills are opened and united" in Meeting for Worship?
    3. How do you practice this ministry in Meeting for Worship?
  • What is your experience of what Taber calls “communion with this invisible but eternal stream of reality in which is the living and eternal Christ?”
    1. How do you experience “nourishing oneness” in the presence of theological diversity in our Meeting?
    2. When a spoken ministry uses theological language or images that depart from your own, how do you maintain an "open and united heart and will" while receiving the ministry?



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