Friends World Committee for Consultation - Europe & Middle East Section

Pre-Triennial study booklet: Being Faithful Witnesses: Serving God in a Changing World

Contents

5. Witness to Faithfulness

Rachel Muers Britain Yearly Meeting

I love the biblical texts that speak of God’s faithfulness to God’s world – a faithfulness that endures however the world changes. Being faithful witnesses is partly, I have come to realize, about being witnesses to that faithfulness.

Being a witness to God’s faithfulness means, perhaps, being prepared to act in a way that says that next year, or the next hundred or thousand years, matter. It also means being prepared to wait; to resist the cultural forces that say, ‘What matters is getting what you want now.’

If I consider aspects of my life that might be places where this ‘witness to faithfulness’ could happen, I think, for example, of undertaking long-term commitments to voluntary organizations; thinking through the environmental implications of an increasing number of aspects of my lifestyle; entering a lifelong committed relationship. None of these moves has happened as a result of sudden or dramatic changes in my perception of God and the world. Perhaps, in fact, my growing sense of the significance of being ‘witness to God’s faithfulness’ partly arises out of my knowledge that I am not one of those Friends whose understanding of the spiritual life is shaped by identifiable ‘peak experiences’ or moments of intense clarity.

This does not, however, mean that processes of discernment are unimportant to me. I am not naturally a very patient person, but it seems to me that I am most able to serve God in a changing world – which in all its changes is God’s beloved world, the ‘object’ of God’s faithfulness – when I have the patience to pay attention to what is going on. That sounds easy. In my experience it’s one of the hardest things to do. I build myself structures of thought that give rise to automatic responses: prejudices about people, words or turns of phrase that cause me to ‘switch off’, pat answers to difficult questions. In a complex world we all simplify our decision-making processes, forming habits so that we don’t have to make every choice as if for the first time. Being a faithful witness is, then, also for me about forming habits of listening. Meeting for worship is central to this; so is reading the Bible, and the ways in which it teaches me to see the world as above all the object of God’s love and infinitely patient attention.

Queries:

- How do we discern individually and as a group what God wants us to do?

- How can we be faithful in everyday things?

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