Carla and I led worship again last Sunday morning at North Seattle Friends Church
. It's been really fun incorporating traditional hymns with more contemporary worship songs. The congregation seems to embrace both and boy, those Quakers know how to sing!
On Sunday the Holy Spirit was very manifestly present throughout the meeting. After Carla and I finished playing, Lorraine (the pastor) stood and said she had been released from giving the planned message and that we would have open worship instead. During the silence of open worship a handful of people were moved to speak out (what Quakers call "vocal ministry") from the unction of the Holy Spirit. Carla was among them.
What has been particularly rewarding for me at this church has been seeing Carla accepted and affirmed for exactly who she is. For many, many years I saw Carla passed over or severely limited either because she didn't fit in musically with what various pastors/worship leaders wanted or because she lacked the ambition for self-promotion or simply because she is a woman. Sometimes she made leaders uncomfortable because of her sensitivity to the Holy Spirit (after all, when the Holy Spirit moves things can get unpredictable and agendas tend to fall apart). I also saw her labeled a troublemaker because she would confront leaders when they abused power.
Now she is leading worship and being appreciated for who she is. No one is trying to make her into something else. Her musical style and background is an asset. Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is genuinely valued, not just given lip service. Leadership is cooperative rather than authoritative. The core Quaker belief that there is "that of God in everyone" leads to an inclusiveness which seeks to appreciate the gifts placed within each person.
Carla seems to be thriving. She seems to be regaining the joy of making music--something which she had almost completely lost.
Lorraine has spoken about people who were always Quakers, they just never knew it. This is definitely the case with Carla. She is a natural Quaker. It's the classic story of the misfit who one day steps into a community where they realize they belong--things that seemed to be shortcomings are suddenly revealed to be great gifts. I tease Carla that she's "such a Quaker", but it's true.
Tonight she sat at the piano composing an instrumental piece that she'll play at the beginning of next Sunday's meeting. I hadn't heard her do that in a long, long time. It felt like home.