Sermon 9-7-2014; ‘Quaker Chronicles’ by Ruthie Tippin
Kellum/Evans, A History of First Friends Meeting of Indianapolis, 1969.
Three ropes. Three ribbons. Three strands of hair. Braided together, they weave into each other, interlocking and forming one strong, new, bond. Something that couldn’t be done with just one strand alone… We have three strands or stories to share - and will share throughout this coming year…
· Our story as a Meeting – First Friends Meeting; Indianapolis
· Our story as a People of faith – Quakers; The Society of Friends
· Our story as God’s people – Seekers who have found God through the experience of God
We have wonderful stories to tell and share, and we will do this thing during this year, in very special and intentional ways. The website is a perfect example of how these three stories intersect… we see our meeting, our heritage as Friends, and our faith in God described so well in our site. People can learn about our history, about Friends History, about the personality of our Meeting, about the things we offer, the things we care about… the way we are woven together – by visiting our website!
· First Friends will celebrate its founding 160 years ago, and we will celebrate throughout the coming year!
· First Friends will affirm our faith as Friends, as we journey alongside our Youth Affirmation class, and learn more about the Society of Friends – past, present, and future.
· First Friends will share stories – God stories – of experiences we share in what Christ taught and George Fox preached – ‘heaven on earth’ – the kingdom of heaven is at hand!
The Psalmist spills out her story of a heritage in God… a life entrusted in God. Psalm 16 is a song of security, faithfulness, and thanksgiving where God is seen as refuge, counsel, teacher, and supplier of all that is needed for life. The Psalmist speaks of God in familiar terms, as if she knows God well. She’s not afraid to be with God, but instead is joyful in God’s presence. Her heart instructs her… God is always with her. She experiences God. No other will do as the guide of her life. Her heart is glad – her soul rejoices – her body is at rest. She is singing us her God story! And because we can hear the Psalmist’s story, it becomes a part of our own.
Chronicles are accounts of the events of the day… Quakers, especially Early Friends, chronicled their lives quite carefully in journals. George Fox and John Woolman are two Friends whose Journals are well known. Their stories of experiences with God are left for all of us, and help us understand the power of their experiences with God. Some entries are daily jottings of people, places and things, while others are reflections on leadings that have come to mind. George Fox wrote this in 1674:
“Therefore be still a while from thy own thoughts, searching, seeking, desires, and imaginations, and be stayed in the principle of God in thee, to stay thy mind upon God, up to God; and thou wilt find strength from him and find him to be a present help in time of trouble, in need, and to be a God at hand. And it will keep thee humble, being come to the principle of God, which hath been transgressed; which humbled, God will teach in his way, which is peace; and such he doth exalt… There thou wilt come to receive and feel the physician of value, which clothes people in their right mind, whereby they may serve God and do his will.”
Because we can read Fox’s story, it becomes a part of our own.
“The founding year of First Friends Monthly Meeting of Indianapolis is 1855. In May, 1855, a request was made of Fairfield Monthly Meeting that status as an established Meeting be granted. This was done in September of that year. (One hundred fifty-nine years ago this month!) A formative period of two decades of Quaker worship by the few members of the Society of Friends who resided in Indianapolis preceded that action. Some members had been residents of the community since the year of the city’s establishment in 1820… The first record we find of our church family is dated 1820 and concerns William Townsend and his family who built a log cabin near what is now Kentucky Avenue. The village had thirty to forty houses of logs. Washington Street was but a trail cut through the woods.”
One family. And then two more from New York. And then another from Cincinnati. And then three more from New Jersey. Their story, is our story. It is our own.
And we’re not done with our stories… our stories of God’s faithfulness, stories about our heritage that will encourage us in our life today, new stories that we have yet to experience. That’s what’s so exciting about the chronicle of our lives… the story continues.
One of the most significant ideas that Quakerism brings us is ‘continued revelation’… We believe that nothing is static… God continues to teach and reveal Godself to us. What we haven’t learned yet, is still there to discover. What new stories are you learning just now? There is so much more to celebrate! What are some of your favorite stories? What stories would you like to know?