Considering the Queries
Queries, or questions, have long been a part of the spiritual nurture of
Friends - both individually and as faith communities. In its earliest days,
Quaker Meetings were asked three questions each year by London Yearly
Meeting: What Friends had passed away since the last Yearly Meeting
gathering? What Friends, imprisoned for their testimonies, had died in
prison since the last Yearly Meeting gathering? How had the Truth prospered
amongst their Meetings since the last Yearly Meeting, and how were Friends
in peace and unity?
Three queries were expanded into six, and then later into many more. The
use of the queries moved from finding factual information, to enforcing
discipline and order as more and more Yearly Meetings were formed. Written
answers had long been enforced, with Monthly Meetings and Quarterly Meetings
reporting their shared responses with the Yearly Meetings. Today, this has
evolved into a set of queries called 'The State of Society' in Western
Yearly Meeting, sent in by each of its Monthly Meetings, telling of our
spiritual health, life in community, and work and witness in the world.
Increasingly, queries became a tool for self-examination - not just for
Meetings, but for individuals as well. Advices were also written, bringing
a source of challenge and encouragement. Each Sunday, an advice or query is
included in our bulletin for consideration during Open Worship.
Quaker queries offer us an incredibly useful tool in thought and reflection
about our journey of faith. I invite you to join me and others in
considering an advice or query each week throughout this coming school year.
Beginning in September, I will offer an advice or query with a reflection of
my own on our website blog. I invite you to either respond to it, or even
better, to find another person to meet with, and discuss the query. What
speaks to you? What challenges you? How does this query move you forward
in faith? Take time to pray for one another. My prayer is that these
interchanges will deepen our faith, both individually, and as a Meeting.
Can you imagine it? Our entire Meeting family, considering the same query,
week after week? How lovely!
I leave you now with two considerations: What person(s) would you like to
gather with to share about the queries/advices/God's leading? (Keep any
group to five persons or less.) How does the Truth prosper in you, and how
are you in peace and unity with yourself and those around you?