What I Would Have Said in Meeting for Worship Today

... if it had gone on a little longer. (Or perhaps if I had been a little braver, or "faster," or perhaps the experience wasn't meant for that Meeting, but for me. Or for this blog?)

So there I was visiting Providence Meeting, reasonably centered, in a reasonably centered meeting in which two or three people had spoken already, when apropos of nothing, I started thinking about the offices of Christ. The thought was one of those little pop-up thoughts one has in unprogrammed meeting for worship (that is, I have them and I hear others do too), where I think, "oh, I could speak about that" but the very thinking of that second thought shows that the first idea isn't (at least not yet) so much a message for the group --the Spirit speaking through me-- as an idea I had -- my ego wanting to do something. Well, I toyed for a moment with what I would say --there were four main offices that I could remember: priest, ruler, prophet, teacher/counselor; that usually popular Christian theology in the U.S. focuses on the office of priest, dwelling on the atonement, the blood, the sacrifice, all that stuff I have such a hard time with; while liberal Friends might perhaps be more interested in the other offices.

Then I got amused by how I might be misunderstood if a listener in the meeting wasn't familiar with the use of the word office to mean "job" or "function" or "capability," and instead might imagine Jesus in his office, doing paperwork. I phrased a joke in my mind: "Mr. Christ, please call your office..." Then the phone rang. In the meetinghouse. Behind my right shoulder. (I thought it was a cell phone, but it turned out later that they have a phone in another room divided from the meetingroom by only a shutter.)

So I was left with a question: which office of Christ is a Friends' meetinghouse?

It's probably the one where he exercises his teaching capabilities; wasn't it Fox who said, "Christ is come to teach his people himself"? And then, if a meeting for business is being held in a rightly ordered way, I suppose it would be held in the office where he's the ruler. (Does Jesus use inches or centimeters on his office rulers? Sorry...)

I was first introduced to the usefulness of thinking about the offices of Christ through the short book Douglas Gwyn contributed to about the peace testimony: A Declaration on Peace: in God's people the world's renewal has begun (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1991). You could look it up here at Herald Press. They begin the book by explaining how the meeting/congregation as a body ("God's people") participates in, or embodies, God's work (these offices), pursuing a "collective vocation." Great stuff.

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