Pittsburgh Friends Meeting – from library committee

INVITATION TO A DEEPER COMMUNION. Pendle Hill Pamphlet 366. Reviewed by Nancy E. James
In this pamphlet Marcelle begins by describing what worship meant to the first Quakers. In 1658 Edward Burrough wrote, “We met together often, and waited upon the Lord in pure silence . . . as often we did for many hours together, . . .” Another early Quaker, Robert Barclay, wrote, “Our worship consists neither in words nor in silence as such, but in a holy dependence [on] the mind of God.” These Friends expected Meeting for Worship to be “a direct encounter with the Divine,” challenging them, in Marcelle’s words, “not only to a radical change in their spiritual understanding, but also to a corresponding change in their outward life.”
In a section headed “Learning About Quaker Worship,” Marcelle relates her own first experiences of Quaker worship and of attending “a gathering for local Friends who’d had mystical experiences.” These participants shared their spiritual stories and prayed for one another. As they continued to meet together, “We felt a strong energy that seemed to make it easier to quiet our minds and enter more deeply into the divine presence.” This group wished to worship for longer than an hour “to relearn what early Friends had known.”
Marcelle writes of participating in other worship meetings without set time limits—at FGC Gathering, at Pendle Hill, and in certain monthly meetings.
The second half of the pamphlet includes more examples of Marcelle’s and others’ experiences of extended worship meetings. In one section of the pamphlet, Marcelle queries, “What might monthly meetings glean from these accounts to help deepen weekly meetings for worship?” She suggests that “One purpose of our gatherings for worship is to help us grow in our ability to worship at all times . . . so that we come to recognize and honor the sacred nature of all of life.”
The notion of a longer‐than‐an‐hour meeting for worship may sound impractical to most of us in today’s world. But Marcelle’s pamphlet is well worth reading—first, for its reminder of what the experience of worship was to George Fox and his generation, and then for a new perspective on what it could be, again.
Submitted by the Library Committee
The holdings in our Meeting library can be checked from your computer at home at http://www.librarything.com/catalog/PittsburghFriendsMtg.

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