Photos of the Australian bush fires have been beamed around the world, and we are grateful to those Friends who have sent us the stories and photos of their experience of these fires. Others have found the experience goes too deep for words. How are we to respond?
The traditional Quaker response is to seek the guidance of the Spirit in silence, and we have three more articles about ministering out of the silence of Meeting for Worship. Friends are cautious about giving ministry. Peter Bennett describes how ministry which inspires some Friends can irritate others. This may lead Friends to take refuge in silence, not because it is the right path but because it is the safe path.
In the Book of Acts we hear how the Holy Spirit came upon the early followers of Jesus. They saw what looked like “tongues of fire” and “began to talk in other languages”. No doubt they irritated a good number of the people who heard them. We probably don’t need the “other languages”, but has the time come for us to occasionally speak with “tongues of fire”?
If we have nothing to say, we can of course let out lives speak. We hear in this issue of how Quakers responded (or failed to respond) to the Spirit in the past. We are grateful to the Jewish Museum for letting us republish an article (based on records donated by NSW Regional Meeting) about Quaker attempts to bring Jewish refugees to safety in Australia at the time of the Second World War. Quaker Service Australia urges us to contribute to the building of toilets in Cambodia – it is difficult to maintain human dignity in the absence of decent sanitation! And we hear from Quakers who manned the stall at the Mardi Gras Fair as an expression of our Testimony to Equality.
We are grateful to all those who contribute to our magazine. Please feel free to place your comments on the web site. Our committee is based in NSW, and so it is easier for us to source articles from close at hand. But we very much want to cover the whole of Australia. If there is someone in your meeting who has a story to tell, please urge them to write for us!