Worship at the Medford (N.J.) Meeting started this morning with queries for the upcoming “Salt and Light” gathering of world Friends. Medford is sending a delegate to the Kenyan event, and in preparation they’re reading the queries from the Salt and Light material during the month of March, along with some passages from the Gospel of Mark(“Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.” http://bible.us/Mark9.49.KJV). I spoke in worship to a recent omission of salt.
A Saturday ritual in the household is morning pancakes. One of the boys likes chocolate chips in his pancakes; another likes vanilla chips; I myself like blueberries. What all the pancakes have in common is salt: just one and half t-spoons in the mixing bowl is enough to transform the batter.
A few Saturdays ago I forgot the salt. The results looked like pancakes but when we bit into them we knew they weren’t right. Rather than give them up, we poured them extra-heavy with syrup. Enough syrup masked the bland tastelessness of the pancakes – the empty form of these almost pancakes – and allowed us to eat it.
How many of the religious bodies descended from Mark’s early gospel have masked our saltlessness (or a fear of it) with extra heapings of syrup? Certainly, the current fashion for charismatic preachers and praise rock bands can act as a kind of masking syrup. But there’s all sorts of ways of compensating for missing salt.
As Jon Watts and Maggie Harrison have been reminding us though the http://www.clotheyourselfinrighteousness.com project, early Friends opted for spiritual nakedness: people gathering without props or distractions, one-on-one and together waiting for the Holy Spirit to lift up and gather the worship. The salt is the Living Spirit, here to guide, direct, comfort and scold. In the quiet of a Friends meeting you’ve either got it or you don’t. We’re working without nets and there’s not much room to hide. The question facing the participants in Kenya – and the gatherers in every Friends meetinghouse and church in the world – is whether we have the salt.
There are many types of masking syrup. Even once-radical Friends have found ways to sidestep the salt question, pre-empting the empty nakedness of our worship with causes, busy-ness, historical festishism, etc. When Friends gather in Kenya, I hope they will ask one another about the salt, the Living Spirit. Maybe they can bring back a re-appreciation of nakedness. For the good news is that Jesus is always ready to bring salt to the simplest of meals: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (http://bible.us/Rev3.20.KJV).
Welcome to the World Conference of Friends 2012 Website
The largest worldwide conference of Friends since 1967 comes together from 17 – 25 April 2012 in Kenya. The theme is Being Salt and Light – Friends living the Kingdom of God in a broken world. One thous…