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?