Greetings to you in the love and peace of Christ Jesus. In the month since my last newsletter, Faith and I have visited Young Adult Friends in Baltimore Yearly Meeting, traveled to Kansas for Christmas and New Year's celebrations, and attended New York Yearly Meeting's Circle of Young Friends, in western New York state. In our travels, we have felt blessed by an abiding sense of God's love in our lives, and we have sensed that God is at work through us.
Just before Christmas, Faith and I were able to attend the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Young Adult Friends retreat. The weekend event was held at Stony Run's meetinghouse, in the city of Baltimore. We camped out in sleeping bags throughout the building, cooked in Stony Run's large kitchen, and watched as a blizzard covered the Mid-Atlantic in a thick blanket of snow. It was good to connect with Friends from BYM that we had known before, and to make new connections. We spoke to the group about the upcoming YAF gathering in May, and we hope that many of them will decide to make the journey to Wichita.
Just a couple of days later, we were on a plane out to Wichita, to spend Christmas and New Years' with my family. Being back home for the holidays was a real change of pace. I don't think that I had relaxed so much in at least two years. My first instinct is to say, "I did nothing," for a week and a half. But, the truth is that I did quite a bit; but none of it was work. My brother gave me a guitar, and I began to teach myself how to play; I read several books and watched several movies; and I got to have some important time with my parents, who I don't see very often anymore. It was blessed time.
Returning to Washington, though, I had a tough time getting back into my normal routine of ongoing, purposeful work. I felt very behind, having set everything aside for almost two weeks. I felt somewhat adrift after such a long stretch of fallow time. Fortunately, I would soon be given the opportunity to re-engage.
This past weekend, Faith and I drove up to the Beloved Community House, near Ithaca, New York, to attend the New York Yearly Meeting Circle of Young Friends retreat. The Beloved Community House is the site of NYYM's new Young Friends in Residence program, which consists of three (eventually, four) Young Adult Friends who are released by their Quarterly Meeting to live together in intentional spiritual community. The biggest piece of their service to area Friends will be developing and sustaining a Quaker youth program, focusing on middle school and high school aged youth. This program will be modeled to a great degree on the programs of Powell House, but will also develop its own distinctive characteristics as Friends discover the particular needs and gifts of Friends in their region.
We spent the weekend in the house with around thirty other young adult Quakers, guided by Christopher Sammond in a program of listening deeply and intentionally opening ourselves to the Divine. Some of the young people present were not comfortable with the word "God," let alone a Christian understanding of God; however, over the course of the weekend, many hearts were touched by God's Spirit, and great advances were made by the Truth.
The joy of God's presence was palpable among us, and though not all of us acknowledged God in Christian – or even theistic – terms, it was clear to me that we were indeed sharing in communion with Christ through His Holy Spirit. The outpouring of Christ's Spirit that came over us created a space for me to share about the Gospel with a number of individuals, and I was grateful to have a number of those attending approach me and thank me for my presence and contribution during the weekend. One young Friend expressed his thankfulness that I was there to express our experience in Christian terms, “which we in New York Yearly Meeting often shy away from.”
When we talked to Friends in New York about the YAF gathering in May, we received a very energetic and enthusiastic response. One Friend's first reaction was to say, “I can fit seven people in my Suburban – let's go!” By the time the retreat was over, there was some talk of whether it might be a good idea to rent a bus. Faith and I were amazed and grateful for the energy and tenderness of spirit that we experienced with these Young Adult Friends. We look forward to seeing many of them in Wichita, in May.
Finally, this Wednesday, Capitol Hill Friends had its first meeting for worship in 2010. We had a good turnout, with nine people showing up for dinner, Scripture reading, singing, and waiting worship. I feel very heartened at the way that the group is developing, and I believe that a core is starting to emerge. I encourage any of you who are able to make it to our worship to attend, and we would be very grateful to host traveling ministers who feel a burden for building up the Church. Come, and share the Gospel with us! Whether or not you are able to visit us, please pray that God will build us up numerically and spiritually as we dedicate ourselves to the work that the Lord has for us in the city of Washington.
I pray that God bless each of you with an abiding sense of Christ's presence within you, leading you to boldness and freedom in the Truth.
Your friend in our brother Jesus,