Living faith

Yesterday I had the privilege of being at Wellington Meeting. I went to the bible study group first, which given the level of sharing, put me in a much calmer state of mind than I normally have at the start of Meeting.

One of the women ministering at Meeting for Worship spoke about the doll she had as a child, which had been handed down from generation to generation in her family. The doll's clothes had been built to last. She also talked of climbing a mesa in the desert in the USA, getting to the top, and wondering how she would get down. When she turned to descend she found handholds that had been carved out by Native Americans long ago. She asked what we were leaving for future generations.

This got me thinking about while being away from Quakers in my 20s, how the monthly newsletter had been my only link. This along with other writings like QF&P we leave behind us could perhaps be seen as handholds for future generations. Thinking about the bible study group though expanded this for me. The way in the group the conversation flowed between analysis of who may have actually written the words, what Jesus did or didn't say and our own experiences and interpretations of what these meant for us made me acutely aware of the value I place on the living experience of faith, over the written word (yes, I know I'm using the written word as a type right now…)

It feels to me that the handholds I value are those of a living faith. It was the experience of being in that living faith that brought me back to Quakers once my children were old enough. I wanted them to have that experience, to be immersed in a faith community rather than miss out on one, or even worse to just be lectured at about faith. It is this living faith that means so much to me. The words spoken in ministry, or written down in books are just guides. They're not to me essential, or a necessary step to faith. The direct connection with the spirit, that is what is important, that is what enlivens the words, gives them meaning, and enables me to be in this loving community.

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3 Responses to “Living faith”

  1. Pete Says:

    It’s hard to leave something real for those who follow without resorting to written language. But our stories of interaction with the Spirit can be told verbally to others. Some of my most treasured memories are of times spent with friends around an open fire, sharing how we came to be at that place in our journey. We can make our stories come to life, with the conviction of one who has lived the experience we are speaking of. It takes a story off the paper and into the heart. The message becomes real at the personal level, where print sometimes runs out. We must keep telling our stories, we must keep relying on our friends to tell their stories. The messages will pass down the generations several years at a time, strengthening our community as they go.

  2. pensieve Says:

    Yes, stories of individual and shared experience seem to be a big part to me of a living faith. Written ministry is important too. These things help to convey experiences, and very often prompt us to think through things in a new way. They’re just not enough in themselves. They can be a guide, but they can’t walk the journey for us. They can’t tell us what to do, or think, or believe. We have to do that for ourselves. And that to me is scary, and exciting.

  3. Cover Photo Says:

    Cover Photo

    Living faith | Pensieve

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