This series is in response to a Quaker meeting split in 2017 along the lines of whether gay marriage would be affirmed or not. The aftermath of this event has caused grief, anger and an abundance of thoughts and feelings on the parts of many in this community.
This series evaluates, frames and processes this event and its slow fallout.
Not so long ago, our Quaker meeting split up. Like right down the middle. As in, “we can’t be with you anymore.”
Half the congregation had to go find a new place to meet because one half said “We can’t even have you in the meeting, effective immediately.”
I haven’t really been in fellowship since. That’s new: the only thing I have done longer than fellowship is breathe. All of a sudden that very strong, unmovable entity of “faith community” began to look much more fragile.
Instead of church now, there are other intentional activities that can go overlooked and need attending. Spending time in service with those close to me who are important and might appreciate my time. Spending time with those in my community that need to know that they are important. Creating, reading, listening or sending a card or a letter. Prayer or meditation. Today it was a podcast and visiting someone I care about, but don’t show it often enough. Made arrangements to visit another person who might like a visit. Sometimes it’s throwing pots. Sometimes it’s reading or listening. But there is a Brother Lawrence aspect to all of it, with intention.
Not being in fellowship doesn’t mean anything inside of me has changed. The anchor is still firmly set.
Our family trusted fellowship to be a safe place. A place where the innocents would grow with friendships. A place where we would invest, and have community. Where we would forgive and be forgiven for our inevitable humanity. In joining a Friends church, one of the oldest denominations, it was unimaginable that it would be anything but rock solid. But now all that is left is a feeling that is potent and not at all what I know of Christ. It’s a bit like grief and fatigue and maybe some rage.
It’s sort of a useful place to be, actually, there’s a bunch of us here, outside of fellowship. In fellowship I met a friend who is a bringer-together of people. She gives off such a strong positive vibe, it’s hard not to feel lightened when she is around. She has a strong gift of making people feel loved, valued and important. What a gift! So even as she urged me to find fellowship again as quickly as possible, assessing my own sense of urgency, there was none found.
Probably what happened is the same as what is normal among humans; the glorification of some and the exclusions of the other. This is just the way humans are, unfortunately. Human nature is such that the bonds of community are strengthened when it is decided who is in and out. Exclusion determines community. This is true of people groups everywhere. A few examples: The Amish, groups like The Elks or The Masons, the practice of “black-balling”, or in tribes. People are tribal, whether they want to believe this or not.
But my understanding is that humans aren’t called to be the judges of these things. Thank God.
Recently it seems my tribe is probably second-graders and artists. And as for fellowship, well, perhaps a door will open soon that will feel less like me trying to force my way in somewhere, and more like being pulled in to something beautiful in Christ.
In the meantime the search for the fellowship of Christ will be in all that is around in the daily world. There never seems to be a shortage of places where one can be the hands and feet, nor a shortage of books.