Quiet Hymns

Bunhill Society of Friends joint Meeting for Worship with Wesley's Chapel - 22nd October 2006

At 9.45am the Wesley Chapel Methodists, plus one regular Quaker, met for Holy Communion. We then went our separate ways for Sunday Worship at 11am in Wesley's Chapel and Bunhill Fields. At 12.30 Methodists made their way through the old burial ground to join the Quakers at Bunhill Fields. We all met to eat, drink and talk before worship. Worship began with Quaker quiet, with an introductory ministry from Paul Bowers Isaacson, and spontaneous spoken ministry from Quakers and Methodists. This was followed by a tour of Methodist history in hymns, conducted by Jennifer Potter and interspersed with communal hymn singing. We concluded with the Lord's Prayer, and went our ways rejoicing.

On behalf of the Quakers, Paul Bowers Isaacson welcomed the Methodists from Wesley's Chapel to our joint meeting for worship.

We will begin our time together this afternoon with a period of worship in the manner of Quakers.

This worship takes the form of expectant silence. We are seeking together to listen to the deep promptings of love in our hearts - To find together God's will for us.

All present are equal and anyone may minister. It is usual to stand to give any message you feel prompted to offer.

Our discipline is to listen and allow a period of silence for reflection before any further contribution.

This part of the worship will last about forty minutes during which it will be perfectly acceptable if all our ministry is silence or there are several spoken contributions.

The end of our period of worship will be signaled by the elders shaking hands. It is then usual to shake hands with those seated around you. The elders, for this meeting, are the two people (Chris Vinzenzi and Olive Yarrow) seated over there on the front bench.

On the table in front of them you will see two books. One is the Bible. The other is called Quaker Faith and Practice. Part of this is called Advices and Queries. I would like to read number eight from this.

"Worship is our response to an awareness of God. We can worship alone, but when we join with others in expectant waiting we may discover a deeper sense of God's presence. We seek a gathered stillness in our meetings for worship so that all may feel the power of God's love drawing us together and leading us."

Thank you, God, for bringing us together

Thank you, God, for the generosity of the Methodists in providing Quakers a home when they were homeless

Thank you, God, for the music of the Methodist choirs that entered the quiet of Quaker worship in the Foundry Chapel

Thank you, God, for the loving silence from which some of our worship rises

Thank you, God, for the joyful hymn singing to which some of our worship aspires

Thank you, God.

We all know the weapons of war

But do we remember the weapons of friendship?

Do we remember the warm handshake? Or is our handshake as cold as a handful of fish from the ice slab?

Do we remember the sincere smile? Does our friendship burn in our eyes?

Do we welcome the outsider, the person who appears different from us, as sincerely as we welcome our closest friend.

Wesley's Chapel did. When we were homeless they took us in. Hungry they fed us. Naked they clothed us. Well - not literally, but you know what I mean.

There should not be any outsiders

We are all equal in the eyes of God

We should all be treated the same

Our quiet worship has meant that I can hear what others are saying and hear what is within me, without them coming into conflict. There is a mutual acceptance. I would like to read this passage from the section of Quaker Faith and Practice on Prayer

"Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit from thy own thoughts, and then thou wilt feel the principle of God to turn thy mind to the Lord God, whereby thou wilt receive his strength and power from whence life comes, to allay all tempests, against blusterings and storms. That is it which moulds up into patience, into innocency, into soberness, into stillness, into stayedness, into quietness, up to God, with his power." (George Fox, 1658)

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

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