Wess Daniels: On Being Publishers of Truth Today

Ruthie Tippin led the worship again on Friday evening, bringing her gifts of song and word to the gathered body of Friends. She and her husband, Jon, shared in music for the offertory. The offering collected was designated for North American Ministries, and all the gifts were doubled by a generous donor to the capital campaign who matched all the gifts.

Michael Sherman introduced Wess Daniels, the Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College, who spoke about the possibility of a faithful kind of betrayal. A seed must leave a plant in order to germinate. Death always precedes resurrection. Wess thinks that in order to become publishers of truth, we must learn to articulate in our own words our authentic encounter with Jesus in our own contexts- even if that sets us at odds with the tradition that we have been given.

He used the example of an apprentice to explain. An apprentice in a trade first learns the sense and the sound and the sight of the trade. But if all the apprentice ever does is mimic, that’s not enough on its own to make an apprenticeship meaningful.

Likewise, as people called to be Publishers of Truth, we need to become intimately familiar with the tradition of Friends—the stories and writings of those who lifted their distinctive Quaker voices to speak Truth in their time. But: we also need to be willing to experience for ourselves the death and resurrection that those Friends went through so that we can come to understand what the Spirit of Christ is asking us to publish in our own time. And we need to be willing to receive the truth, even when that truth calls us to die to the traditions that we once thought were central to our faith.

If you allow yourselves to fall and be buried, you will rise again, sprouting and reproducing many times over. -Wess Daniels

Wess offered two queries to Friends:

“How are we as Friends, in our meetings and yearly meetings, apprenticing people to the Quaker tradition in such a way that gives them the freedom to move from reading to writing, from belief to faith, from a seed nurtured by the plant, to a seed spilled out on the ground, someday reproducing many times over?”

“What must we do in our meetings and churches and yearly meetings to become receivers of truth? What practices can we participate in that will shape us to have the kind of spiritual imagination and generosity to receive what might first appear as an untruth, but may in fact turn out to be God’s message to us? And who might be those within our meetings and yearly meetings today who are themselves bringing a truth to us, and yet we receive them more as publishers of untruth?”

Wess has graciously shared the text of his message on his website, so check that out to read the whole thing. If you or your congregation have responses to these queries that you would like to share among our beloved community, please send them to news@friendsunitedmeeting.org

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