January 2020 Events

Saturday 11th January – Leighton Buzzard Friends are invited to Milton Keynes Meeting New Year Party from 4pm to 8.30pm.

Sunday 12th January – 10.45am Meeting for worship and in the afternoon from
2pm Area Meeting at Leighton Buzzard.

Sunday 19th January – 10.45am Meeting for Worship followed by an Enquirers Session in which questions About Quakers can be asked and explored.
Sunday 19th January3pm Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Service at St Barnabase. 

‘Twas the Night Before…

Not knowing what is going to happen can produce all sorts of feelings, such as worry, hope, desperation, confidence, resignation, determination, excitement and so on. The ‘night before’ can last a long time. Sleeplessness can lead to hours spent thinking about possible outcomes. Anticipation could build up to excited expectation or fear of failure. The suspense can be filled with nightmares of things that could go wrong or dreams of glittering success.

We don’t know what it was like for Mary, the night before Jesus was born. The stories we have are not meant to be biographical accounts but ways of expressing the importance of who Jesus was. If Jesus was Mary’s first child, then there was probably some anxiety as well as hope. Giving birth then  was, and still is in some cases, a significant risk to the life of mother and the unborn child. A safe delivery would be greeted with joy and relief. 

For us the Christmas story does not hold that sense of the unknown. It is not a matter of uncertainty, nor is it unpredictable. It is probably familiar to most of us, even if it is surrounded by so much embellishment and the weight of centuries of interpretation.

Contrast that with the experience we can look forward to of New Year’s Eve.  This is a situation where we do not know what will happen next year. It is unpredictable, uncertain and for many it will be filled with a mixture of anxiety and hope. The approach of a new decade, the ‘twenties’, holds contrasting possibilities. It will be a crucial decade for responses to the climate emergency. Changing weather patterns are likely to be more disruptive than ever. Politically, it is likely to be a period of turmoil with so many places experiencing unrest, confrontation, and violence. But there are also reasons for hope, for example in the attitude of young people to our global circumstances. Goodness and kindness will not disappear, nor will the willingness of many to be good neighbours to those in need. 

In fact, it is the thought that ‘kindness produces wonders’ that gives me hope. If we can be kind not only to those who are kind to us, but also to those with whom we disagree, and those who are different from us, then there is a possibility of wonderful changes happening. Friendships can blossom, hostility can be replaced with trust, and ways of cooperating can lead to peace.

When we find ourselves going through the ‘night before’ and filled with conflicting emotions, perhaps we can resolve to be kind to ourselves and to others, whatever happens. We may be pleasantly surprised with the wonders that unfold.

Gardening volunteers

A group of six volunteers gathered this last week for a gardening retreat. Organised by Quaker Voluntary Action (QVA), they came from as far away as Glasgow and stayed from Wednesday to Sunday. Some slept in the Meeting House others stayed with local Friends.

They worked extremely hard each morning and most afternoons. They pruned overgrown shrubs and cleared nettles, ivy and other persistent weeds. A new herb bed was planted, a new wildflower area created, a leaf-storage area constructed and a spiral meditation walk created out of cobbles. Perhaps the most demanding job was lifting the gravestones and re-laying them over fabric to suppress the weeds.

Among the new plants were cotoneaster, which will provide ground cover, and Hebe to replace one that has died in the drought last year. They also put in the herb area some lavender, rosemary, thyme and sage.

The volunteers shared in Sunday morning Meeting for Worship before returning home. Our heartfelt thanks for their hard work, which has transformed the garden.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity United Service 20.1.2019

The Leighton-Linslade Churches Together Service to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be held at the Friends Meeting House on Sunday 20th January 2019 at 3.30pm.

This is an annual opportunity for Christians to meet together and express their commitment to seek unity. This year the material for the service comes from Christians in Indonesia. The theme is ‘Justice and only justice you shall pursue’. Indonesia is a very diverse country and unity is valued, but there are huge gaps between rich and poor, and some antagonism between different groups.

One of the reflections for individual use during the eight days of Prayer is …

If I am to speak truth to power, whose truth do I speak?
Whose justice do I seek in the space between my right-ness and that of the ‘other’?
If I say ‘yes’ to justice, does that make it all mine?
What of the grey between the emphatics?

Let me declare boldly, sure-footedly that my yes is a “yes-yes”, and my no is “no”.’  Says Jesus. ‘Let me draw clarity in the sand that defines and refines knowledge, truth and tales in such a way that all are sure. ‘Let me dwell deep in the place within
where, regardless of the outward form you know beyond doubt’s shadow,
that truth and justice, peace and righteousness lie.
‘And let me, in my boldness turn widdershins the hypocrisy of
those who confuse integrity with fake-ness,
who obscure truth with falsehood and call it news.
‘Let me boldly be good news.’

White and Red Poppies on Remembrance Sunday

Amongst the huge crowd at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Leighton Buzzard on 11.11.18 were a small group of Quakers who had come to witness for peace and to lay a wreath of red and white poppies.

Though there was long list of those who were to lay wreaths, The  Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) was not mentioned. But the wreath was laid anyway.

The ceremony was dominated by a militaristic parade, with standard bearers of all ages, from war veterans to Brownies. There were a few in the crowd wearing white poppies, or both white and red poppies.

Here are some of the photographs taken on the day.

Ride for Equality & the Common Good

We were delighted to welcome seventeen riders travelling from Swarthmore Hall, in the Northwest of England, to Downing Street, London. They were witnessing to the terrible consequences of cuts to funding for the vulnerable and disabled. Their declaration can be seen by clicking on this link. Declaration for Equality and the Common Good.

They were inspired by their own experiences and by the historic ride by Margaret Fell, the “Mother of Quakerism” from her home, Swarthmore Hall, to present a petition to Charles II, pleading for an end to the persecution of Quakers, who, she declared are a “peaceable people”.

The riders included people with disabilities and carers with first hand experience of the tragic effects of the introduction of the universal credit system. Their message is “We can afford to care”. See this quick snap shot.

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They started their journey on Sunday 22nd July and aim to present their petition to  number 10 Downing Street at 3pm on Friday 3rd August.

We welcomed them on Tuesday 31st July after they had ridden from Northampton via Milton Keynes. We enjoyed a meal together and shared stories and concerns. Some slept on the Meeting House floor, others in the garden under the stars and the rest in Friends Homes. They left after breakfast and a short  Meeting for Worship on Wednesday morning, having dealt with a broken spoke and a puncture!

It is possible to follow their progress and learn more about their witness by following this link.