- Divide into four groups and have each group sit around one table with a flip chart paper headed with the following questions:
- Two tables have the question, “How do you welcome everyone in your Meeting, newcomers as well as long-time members and attenders?”
- Two tables ask the participants to “Describe your Meeting’s witness in the world.”
- After 10 minutes have the groups move from a table with one question to a table with the other question. Again, each group will have 10 minutes to see what the other group has written and to add or emphasize other points.
- (Note: This exercise can be done with four different questions as well, depending on time and content).
Presentation on Prophetic Witness
Based on the writings of Walter Brueggemann, excerpt from a 2013 talk by Jonathan Vogel-Borne given on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of our Meeting’s witness for peace at Textron Industries, Wilmington, MA, makers of cluster bombs
Through my daily Bible reading over this past year, I’ve been living with the Hebrew prophets. I co-led a workshop at Friends General Conference called “Practicing Prophetic Ministry.” Through the study and preparation for the workshop, I reread Walter Brueggemann’s excellent book, Prophetic Imagination, where he contrast the stories of Moses and King Solomon. Through his leadership and obedience, Moses fulfills his prophetic role, embodying God’s purpose to liberate the captive Hebrew people. King Solomon, on the other hand, is cast as an anti-prophet. As King he amassed tremendous wealth, many wives and concubines, and hundreds of thousands of slaves. For King Solomon and his close minions, life was good. Don’t rock the status quo. Partly as a way to honor God, but also to ensure that nothing would change, Solomon used his wealth and slave labor to build a permanent, physical residence for God. That way, while praising and lauding God, he would also be able to control God. The religion of empire is born.
As modern people, we too continue to be embedded in the religion of empire. That religion takes the form of shopping malls, war making, and racial hatred—the three evils named by Martin Luther King in his speech at Riverside Church: materialism, militarism and racism. The first step in the prophetic motion is to shock us out of our numbness, out of our denial. That shock of self awareness brings us to a sense of despair. Despair that there will be no end to violence, environmental degradation will continue, racial hatred is inevitable, and all manner of the world’s evil will never cease. While in despair, at least we are not numb. We are feeling. Out of that feeling, out of that vulnerability, we can be open to the miracle of hope, the beginnings of faith, the assurance that there is some larger purpose here. Indeed I have a profound awareness of what some are calling a great emergence. All the intimations of unconditional love and of deep joy are evidence of a great change taking place. Faith as described in the Christian scriptures is “the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The next step in the prophetic motion is to build alternative communities, communities of resistance to the domination system. Our community, Friends Meeting at Cambridge is and can be just such a community. Let’s wage peace among ourselves, practicing conflict transformation, radical hospitably, radical inclusion, providing a truly welcoming culture for all who walk through our doors. Let’s continue to join with others, allying ourselves with the disempowered, consciously using our privilege to undo systems of oppression. Wherever we can find traction for real nonviolent change—by opposing mass incarceration, by acting to stop the use of fossil fuels, by supporting unarmed peacekeeping, by training for alternatives to violence, and today, by praying for peace at Textron— we pull on the threads of empire, unraveling and dismantling the domination system. There is no one right issue and no one right movement. We each need to find our place. It all needs doing. We are and can be part of a larger community, a larger movement—an underlying pattern set on an inevitable course towards redemption, restoration, and wholeness—Spirit-led, building God’s peaceable world.