Noah Baker Merrill discusses sacramental living, Quaker Voluntary Service, and how our Quaker prophetic witness can transform the world.
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Prophecy is about seeing the world as it is from a God’s eye perspective. It’s about looking at the world the way it is from the perspective of love and justice and the possibility that all things could be made new.
The Possibility of Every Moment
We live in a world where hope is scarce and fragile and where — as a species, as a whole community of life — there’s this sense deep at the roots that something is wrong, that something about the balance of the world is changing.
There’s this low level anxiety that surrounds us and I think a huge part of that is that we have lost a sense of the sacredness of our journey here on this planet, and I think one of the gifts for me of my journey as a Friend is that I find tools for what has been called “sacramental living” — for recognizing that in every moment there’s the possibility for the in-breaking of something beyond us.
The Heart of the Prophetic Message
Taking the condition of the world and all of the suffering and all of the injustice and all of the joy and all of possibility, and all of the reality of global climate disruption and the massive inequality that we experience as human being, and also says, “but this is not all that’s possible. Something could be different.” Ultimately, I think that’s the heart of the prophetic message: “It could be different.”
A Way of Living that Makes it Real
I think prophetic service is not just a perspective. It’s not just a word we would say, or a vision we would lift up, but its a way of living that incarnates that — that makes that real in our lives, in our families, in our workplaces that says, “how do I live in a way that’s invitational? That invites people into that possibility that something could be different?” That this — that we see every day — is not all that could be possible, and that together in communities, we could be living into that. We could find that place together.
And it sounds grand and it sounds huge and it sounds impossible to achieve, but living in our daily lives in that way, open to the invitation, is something that we hope we’re inviting people into in Quaker Voluntary Service. And I hope that when people come into a Quaker Meeting that once in a while they experience that invitational living, where we’re seeing things as they are and also reaching for what could be together.
2 thoughts on “How Quakers Can Transform the World”
At The Gathering this past week, I had this epiphany: There is an intersection with my work as a clinician, my work as a teacher, and the work of a clerk: creating an environment into which an invitation can be extended, and, once entered, there is no escape except through change.
I pondered: perhaps this happens not only in my work roles, but in my daily life, with every encounter that I have. Listening to this video today confirms that notion.
My whole present life has been lived this way: that God was in me, in everyone and everything that came my way, and that came before and is beyond my way. Through many explorations of different religious organizations – from Catholicism in which I was raised through the Unitarianism to which I finally gravitated, and to the Society of Friends, which I now call home.
To have this synchronously affirmed, again, nourishes me on my path. Thanks for this one…timing was perfect.
This is a good introduction to living a Quaker life daily. I would love to see Noah go further in a few more videos.
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