Some Keep the Sabbath in Meditation

In an effort to explore unfamiliar styles of worship, I have set out on a church hopping quest. My goal is to see God through as many different lenses as possible and perhaps catch a better view of who He is and how we relate to Him.

Several months ago I had the privilege of attending a Greek Orthodox church for their Sunday Morning Liturgy. From them, I was honored to see the holy magnitude of God. We worshiped with a deep sense of reverence, respect, and awe.

This past Sunday, my fellow pilgrims and I ventured into a hidden place at the North end of town. It was the only one of its kind on my map. On a dirt drive, tucked away in the woods, we found a small Quaker meeting house called the Charlotte Friends Meeting.

I had tried to prepare myself for a Quaker (Friends) meeting by asking around on the internet about what to expect and how to dress for the occasion. I once peeked in on a Quaker gathering in Wilmington, NC and noticed that they sat in a circle. I effectively knew two things about Quakers: They’re pacifists, and they wait patiently for the Holy Spirit to lead them. Other than that, I was walking in nearly blind.

Fortunately, the Quakers lived up to their reputation as Friends, which made the whole experience a lot less intimidating than it could have been (even after my phone went off during mediation). They greeted us warmly and guided us in to worship with them.

I was pleased that I had guessed right on a few things. We did sit in a circle and most of the hour that we spent in worship was silent–a time for personal meditation and prayer. This was what I was most excited about.

I’ve read a little on the topic of Christian mediation in the book Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, but practicing it has been a struggle. My generation and my culture has been taught to be distracted. It’s impossible to be somewhere without music, screens, phones, talking, typing, facebooking or to-do lists. Usually there is more than one of those going at a time. Most churches today won’t even let you pray silently, or let the pastor pray out loud without at least one screen on and music playing in the background. We insist on being distracted. It’s as if we cannot give anyone–not even God–our full attention.

But the Quakers sought to do the opposite. Meditation with them meant that we sat in a room with nothing on the walls. No video screens with announcements or lyrics or floating colors. Instead, three of the walls were giant windows looking out into the forest. The only sound was the bird’s songs of praise. And for an hour, we sat in silence, giving God our full attention and listening for Him to speak to us. When somebody did speak, it was only after careful contemplation.

That’s what I learned from the Quakers: contemplation. I learned to pause and listen for God’s voice. I learned to “be still and know that [He] is God.” (Psalms 46:10)

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