I recently had an experience of facilitating a women’s group’s retreat where it seemed like most of the women came with a deep thirst for God, and because their thirst was so strong, I knew almost before the day had begun that the event would be deeply transformative for some of the participants.  

I also think of events I have attended where it seemed many of us came with some trepidation, not quite sure of what might happen, not sure if we were there for the same reason others were there, waiting to see if it would be safe to open ourselves up. If there are too many cautious attenders, in my experience, a facilitator can be as spiritually grounded and prayerful and well prepared as anything – but it will be hard for him or her to create an atmosphere in which the Spirit will move the group.

I do not mean to say there are limits to God’s power, but I do mean to say that our beliefs and degree of openness sometimes make a difference to what God can do in our lives. 

As politicians try to increase our fear so we will give them more power, and as companies try to sell us new safety products for us to buy, and as the media increasingly focus on conflict and heighten our awareness of “adversaries” and things that may have an adverse effect on our lives, I sometimes wonder what this means for our Meetings, churches, and our worship?

When God knocks on our door, do we peer cautiously through the spy hole and challenge the visitor to prove his identity and good intentions before we allow the door to open a crack for further verification? Or do we throw the door open with a big welcoming smile and arms open for an embrace, trusting that the visitor means to love us and be good to us? 

Queries for prayerful consideration:

In worship, do I open the door to the visitor God sends? Do I listen with eagerness to everyone’s message, expecting from every speaker a Word from God? In encounters with my “neighbor” and my “enemy”, is my door sufficiently open to allow God to be in the interaction and transform me? How do I release any fears I have? How can I be more welcoming in Meeting? How can I be more welcoming of God’s Word to me in every interaction?

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