I'm so glad to meet a NFF member who also lives in Richmond! Susan, you may be the catalyst for my getting more involved in the NFF. I'm just now finishing up my last schoolwork for the spring term - I'm an M. Div. student at Earlham School of Religion, hoping to graduate a year from now, now embarking on a ministry of promoting wider knowledge of the wealth of early Quaker resources available on the internet, and of continuing to build the Quaker Bible Index, begun by Esther Greenleaf Mürer in the 1980s and now under my custody. I'm planning to make an eight-day silent retreat from 5/6 to 5/14, and then be back in touch with people, starting with my wife Elizabeth and my two adult children in New York. I'd love to get together with you soon after! You can contact me at email@example.com.
On 6/23/2019 I was privileged to be among the seventeen Friends who heard Australian Friend David Johnson (_A Quaker Prayer Life_, Inner Light Books, 2013; _Jesus, Christ and Servant of God_, Inner Light Books, 2017) lead an intense after-meeting discussion, at West Richmond (IN) Friends Meeting, on what the Gospel of John has to say about the relation of Jesus Christ to God, His _Abba_.
Friend David had us go around the room, each reading one of the following verses:
John 4:34 John 5:19 John 5:30 John 6:38 John 7:15-16 John 8:26-28 John 14:10 John 14:23-24 John 15:10
The picture that emerged was of Jesus the Man explaining His astonishing ability to do divine works as being rooted in His “having no will but to do the will of Him Who sent Me” (John 6:38), and “to finish His work” (John 4:34). It was clear that, during His years of ministry, Jesus was all the while training, encouraging, and empowering His disciples to act in a similar spirit of unwavering obedience to the divine will. After Jesus’ departure from the earth, David added, the early Church understood this unity with God’s will to be the supreme criterion of its faithfulness. “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,” exhorted Paul in Philippians 2:5-7 NRSV. The “anointing” that gave members of the early Church this “mind that was in Christ Jesus” empowered them to “abide in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:20-24).
It was the great accomplishment of early Friends that they recovered this key understanding of the early Church and found the living Christ empowering then to live up to it.
The question that David bade us consider as we parted, at the end of the hour, was this: _Can I accept the possibility of my being as obedient in all things as was Jesus?_