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Friday, March 09, 2007

Prayer

I never much liked prayer when I visited church with my grandma, who was Presbyterian. The minister asking us to bow our heads and then speaking to God on our behalf. It kind of irritated me. He didn't speak what was in my heart, but he seemed so sure of his own authority.

Eventually I stopped bowing my head.

The Unitarians, where I grew up, didn't teach me much about prayer. Other people's prayers, yes. Prayer as an art form or a cultural relic. Something to be appreciated and even deeply felt, but somehow belonging to all other denominations more strongly.

At my Quaker meeting, people pray in many different ways. Asking for people to be held in the light. Quoting scripture. Singing. Expectant waiting. We come from many different traditions but we come together in silence as a way to access the divine in all of us.

I am currently part of a clearness committee for a marriage in which one of the parties is an attender at TCFM and the other is Lutheran. In trying to negotiate an interfaith wedding, the question of prayer has come into play.

How do Quakers and Lutherans come together in worship, maintaining the integrity of each faith? I believe it can be done with care and planning. I believe the people involved are more than willing to do the work required. I believe events such as these broaden understanding of ones own and other people's faiths.

But that could just be the Unitarian in me speaking.

6 Comments:

Blogger Liz Opp said...

Hi, Kiara--

What a sticky wicket!

There was a query that arose during Meeting for Worship with attention to Business recently, when the meeting had its initial consideration of revisions to the existing marriage document--the document that is intended to guide couples and clearness committees when there is a request to be married (wed) under the care of the meeting.

The query was:

Sometimes Quakers fall in love with non-Quakers, and then what are we to do?

Blessings,
Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

3:25 PM  
Blogger Heather Madrone said...

Thanks for this, Kiara. Last year, I attended a Methodist service with my grandmother. The minister would say, "let us pause to contemplate," and I'd think, "Oh good, now we'll get a little silence," and then he'd continue on with the service.

When I saw the words "interfaith wedding, I expected to hear how Friends could integrate the rabbi and the huppa into our style of worship. I've been to so many Jewish-Christian weddings, that I'm having a hard time getting my head around the idea of two different Protestant denominations being "interfaith."

Is this interfaith couple asking the Meeting to take their marriage under the care of the Meeting? If so, that speaks to the importance of faith in their lives, and also of their commitment to the Meeting. I might expect such a couple to ask for a marriage after the customs of Friends rather than under the care of the Meeting.

Any marriage is some part common sense and some part blind faith. If a Friend falls in love with anyone, what are we to do?

With love and a twinkle in my eye,

Heather

5:14 PM  
Blogger RichardM said...

Has anyone considered having two ceremonies? A regular Protestant ceremony with preaching etc. and a low key Quaker wedding with just vows at a normal worship service.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Richard58 said...

I agree with RichardM. Having two ceremonies would be best. But if they do not wish to do that I suggest that they incorporate some of both denominations wedding styles, i.e. they could use spoken prayers and moments of silence, etc.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Quaptist said...

Heather - Try getting your head around this one - The Society of Friends is NOT a protestant denomination.

About prayer - I've come to see prayer as a gift that some of us have in more abundance than others. When Friends pray silently, the differences in these gifts is less apparent, but the poor protestants, especially the poor pastors, have to expose their weakness in prayer publicly every time they are called to pray out loud.

So, whenever I listen to someone pray out loud, I try to appreciate that the person is making the effort to thank, praise, or in some way call out to God, which I believe is a good thing even when done poorly. The weaker the prayer, the greater the need for God, hence the greater opportunity for God to provide a blessing.

For myself, I can listen to another's prayer the same way I have learned to read Scripture - to ask the Lord to illuminate what he would have me hear in it, and to just receive the rest with charity and patience.

I grew up believing that Quakers didn't pray out loud. Our Lutheran friends always said the same grace before meals: "Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen." I refused to say it, because I was a Quaker. Now that I understand my faith much better, I really appreciate the sweetness and simplicity of that prayer, and whenever or however I invite the Lord into any activity, and recognize that what I am partaking of is a gift, I am always richly and amazingly blessed.

One of the wonderful things that I hope is happening among us is that we are learning that it is not our forms of worship that we worship, it is our God, and that we can honor any form of worship that has integrity, that is worship in Spirit and in Truth.

Growing in Grace,
David Male

7:11 PM  
Blogger Kiara said...

The couple is indeed asking for their marriage to be taken under the care of the meeting, but there doesn't seem to be a firm notion of what that means in our meeting.

It doesn't help that the marriage minute-- the document that guides couples and committees through the process-- is currently being revised.

Very few of the people in our meeting were raised Quaker. Very few of us married under the care of the meeting. Perhaps because very few of us married Quakers or became convinced Quakers after we were already married.

Whatever happens, the meeting is sure to support the couple and there is general consensus that these two people should be married.
The principal question seems to be if the legal part of the marriage will be Quaker or Lutheran.

5:10 AM  

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