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Thought For The Week - 24-06-24

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

In terms of Anglican holy days - today remembers the birth of John the Baptist. 

As a Quaker, I shouldn’t really hold to any particular day being any more holy than another - Quakers don’t do anniversaries and holy days.  No single day, time, space, person is more holy, special or filled with God’s presence, love, grace.  Despite this - I find myself endlessly fascinated by saints, and baptism!

The Quaker conviction is that the operation of the Spirit outruns all our expectations. We acknowledge that the grace of God is experienced by many through the outward rite of baptism, but no ritual, however carefully prepared for, can be guaranteed to lead to growth in the Spirit. A true spiritual experience must be accompanied by the visible transformation of the outward life. Our understanding of baptism is that it is not a single act of initiation but a continuing growth in the Holy Spirit and a commitment which must continually be renewed. It is this process which draws us into a fellowship with those who acknowledge the same power at work in their lives, those whom Christ is calling to be his body on earth.

London Yearly Meeting, 1986

I like this idea of baptism as a continuum, but also as an act of initiation.  We are continually called on by the Holy Spirit, to grow, and commit to renewal.  Growth and renewal always make me think of the Inner Seed, a Quaker sort of metaphor for that of God in all of us. 

We need to commit to nurture this seed, spiritually, and usually in community - so that we can act in accordance with the calling of the Spirit.

I am always incredibly moved by baptisms - as overt acts, as declarations, usually in community - they’re the very stuff that ‘community’ is made of.  But the nurturing of the seed is a continuum - it never began, and never ends.

Give over thine own willing, give over thy own running, give over thine own desiring to know or be anything and sink down to the seed which God sows in the heart, and let that grow in thee and be in thee and breathe in thee and act in thee; and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of Life, which is its portion.

Isaac Penington, 1661

John the Baptist embodied this - giving over to God, sinking down to the seed, growing in the Spirit, and sharing his gifts.

We can all learn from this, and I'm proud to say, you all help me every day to do this!

From Ellen Cross, DBE Administrator

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