Vocabulary & Terms Peculiar to Friends or "Quakers"
Common Terms Defined
Helpful Definitions/Explanations of Terms You Might Hear During or After a Meeting for Worship.
Terms Related to Faith and Action
An "opening" = what some call a "revelation" or "deeper insight" into a situation or idea/practice.
"A Leading" = a deep and growing feeling that God is motivating one and providing one with the opportunity and responsibility to act in some specific new or fresh way in some area of group or individual life.
"To Season" = To rest and intentionally ponder a course of action, expecting that further Divine guidance will be given about a certain action or leading.
Terms Related to Worship
"Meeting" = a gathering of Friends to group worship, avoiding the confusion of the term "church" (all of us) with any man-made building.
"Centering Down"= an individual's process of quieting his/herself in order to wait in silence for God's Spirit to speak to us...with the understanding that the "Center" is Christ.
"Rise of Meeting" = the official "end" of silent worship, signaled by the shaking of hands which spreads among all attenders.
Meeting for worship
John 4:23 "But the hour cometh, and now
is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth:
for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that
worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are
gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
When Friends come together to worship
God, they do so in obedience to these passages. To a newcomer, the meeting may
seem "silent" but in reality it is an experience of intense listening. We
gather, in a meeting house, in a private home, in a park, to strengthen each
other and to wait, as did the disciples on the day of Pentecost. The Word of
God, Christ, is there among us and speaks to us by his spirit, in our hearts.
Sometimes no audible word is said, but we are together refreshed and washed
clean by the fountain of living waters. Sometimes one Friend may deliver an
inspiring sermon. Sometimes several Friends, as the Spirit leads each one, will
give a series of brief messages which joined by God's plan from a complete
revelation. Sometimes a Friend will be compelled by the Spirit to speak
something that seems to make no sense, only to learn later that it was a divine
answer to some one else's need.
The common names of days of the week and months of the year,such as
"Sunday" and "January", were adopted in honor of pagan deities. Friends
have traditionally rejected such vocabulary and have called the days of the
week and the months of the year by their numbers, thus:
Seventh Month (july)
Eighth Month (august)
Ninth Month (september)
Tenth Month (october)
Eleventh Month (november)
Twelfth Month (december)
Seventh Day (saturday)
It is interesting that, earlier in this century, Friends began accepting
use of the common date names, feeling that any pagan meaning has been
forgotten, while as the 20th comes to a close, most of us write (or type) dates
using their number designations. Perhaps the Quaker usage will
catch on in common speech as well.
Plain Speach. The use of "Thee & Thy" in conversation is sometimes observed amoung plain Quaker friends, especially when thoses friends are speaking amongst themselves.
"Friends have maintained the use of the second person singular pronouns since the mid-seventeenth century. Their use serves two purposes: 1) It makes a distinction between second person singular and plural. Early Friends maintained that the two ancient languages of the scriptures (Greek and Hebrew) made this same distinction, so the Lord wants us to speak this way. They called this the "language of the scriptures." People who read the Bible are accustomed to this language. 2) It serves as a communication tie between Friends. Calling a Friend "thee" indicates that the speaker acknowledges that the two are in covenant with each other. In some ways, this is similar to two French people agreeing to use "tu and toi" between themselves. I should be clear that Friends use thee and thy for different reasons. Some Friends only use it at home or with certain other Friends. The two reasons that I listed above are the most general reasons that Friends use them."