Blog Banner

Archive for early friends – Page 2

Jesus Christ is Born Today

For hundreds of years, most Quakers held it as an important article of faith that true Christians should not observe days and seasons. Instead, Friends insisted on treating every time and place as an equal opportunity to experience the presence of God.

This principle led Quakers to ignore popular feasts and festivals, and even the most important holy days of the wider Church’s liturgical calendar. Until the late 1800s, Friends could be subject to community discipline for celebrating Christmas or Easter! To most of us living today, this seems a strange stance to take as a Christian community. What did earlier generations of Friends consider so wrong about setting aside time to remember the birth and resurrection of the Lord?

If anything, we might wonder whether perhaps we need more special days, not fewer. Most of us live in an environment largely devoid of explicit reference to the divine, and in some places sharing from a Christian worldview can be a serious faux pas. We are expected to keep our God-talk to ourselves! With faith expression increasingly going underground, there are often too few reminders of Jesus’ love and presence.

The early Friends experienced exactly the opposite situation. In their day, not only was a Christian worldview encouraged, it was rigorously upheld by force of law! Backed up by a state church, a particular interpretation of Christianity was used by government authorities to justify abuses of power and human vanity. Days of remembrance like Christmas and Easter were prime time for state-sponsored preachers to interpret the Scriptures in ways that had little to do with the gospel message, and everything to do with reinforcing the status quo.

The radical Quaker movement would have none of this. They denounced the very concept of religious holidays as anti-Christian, and insisted that Christmas and Easter were empty shells of the truth: Jesus Christ is born into the world each and every day, whenever a man or woman makes the decision to open their heart and let him come to live and reign in their lives. He is risen from the dead every time we do the works of righteousness that he is calling us to.

Rather than allowing the religious establishment to frame Jesus’ birth and resurrection as past events, the early Friends drew attention to the fact that Jesus is here, now, and ready to lead his people himself! Rather than merely remembering the Christ who once was, the Quaker movement sought to reveal and embody the living Jesus, whose light has the power to make us sons and daughters of God.

As we celebrate Christmas this year, how can we practice awareness of the birth that Jesus wants to have within each of us? As we remember Jesus’ outward birth in ancient Judea, what does it look like for us to participate in the inward birth that was the whole purpose of his coming? Will we go beyond the complacency of backwards-looking memorial religion, allowing Christmas to become a reality in our lives every day?

Is Settled Ministry The New Traveling Ministry?

In the early days of the Quaker movement, Quaker evangelists swept through the British Isles, the Continent of Europe, across the Atlantic to the American colonies, and even as far as the Muslim lands of the Middle East. The Valiant Sixty went out from Swathmoor Hall, determined to spread the good news of the risen Jesus to the ends of the earth. They moved from village to village, preaching the gospel and connecting isolated communities into a new movement of the Holy Spirit. To be a public minister in this early movement meant, almost by definition, to be on the road.

This sort of itinerant ministry was revolutionary when originally practiced. In an age when local communities were often cut off from one another, a visit from a traveling Friend could break down barriers of communication and geography, connecting a movement across regions, or even continents. The traveling minister represented not just an inspired preacher of the gospel, but a living connection with a wider community.

Now, in the first quarter of the 21st century, our situation has changed dramatically. In stark contrast to the geographical settledness of 17th-century England, we live in a society where many of us travel vast distances on a regular basis. Even transatlantic travel, which would have been the journey of a lifetime even a hundred years ago, can now be undertaken almost casually.

Our living arrangements are just as fluid. Most of my friends, for example, do not live in the state where they grew up. We are encouraged to leave our hometowns for college, and then to travel wherever we find the most potential for career advancement. Where I live, in Washington, DC, many people are only here for a few years; they come to gain connections and work experience before moving on to another city when a better job offer arises.

This way of life wreaks havoc on community. As a young professional, it is hard to invest in relationships if you know that you will probably be leaving for another city within the next few years. Even for those of us who are more rooted, there is a great temptation to avoid investing in relationships with those who will probably be moving on. Why spend time and energy on someone who will likely be gone soon?

In the midst of such uncertainty of relationships and place, it may be time to reevaluate our models of ministry. It could be that the great need of the 21st century is non-traveling ministers: women and men who make themselves available to ground and nurture stable communities in a society deeply marked by transience. In a culture that practically worships keeping one’s options open, an intentionally settled ministry could be just as radical today as the traveling ministry was three and a half centuries ago.

The White-Hot Gospel

The early decades of the Christian movement were infused with a radical sense of a new Kingdom that turns the whole world upside down, but things changed as the Church began to settle into life in Empire. It is tough to swim against the current of the dominant culture. As time went on and the expectation of Jesus’ second coming gradually diminished, the followers of the Way began to adapt to the expectations of Greco-Roman society. Decades passed, and Jesus still had not returned to establish his outward reign on earth, so the Church began to develop a meantime theology, seeking to live peaceably – and unobtrusively – within the Empire.

This made all kinds of sense. After all, Rome regularly carried out persecutions against those who refused to submit to the cosmopolitan religion of the Empire, to worship the Emperor as a god. Christians were already in very serious trouble much of the time. Under such circumstances, the temptation to blend in and do as the Romans do must have been huge.

But this decision to compromise with the surrounding culture came at a price. The white-hot gospel of Jesus upended the social hierarchies that were so integral to the internal logic of Empire – master above slave, lord above servant, husband above wife. Yet, as the Christian community struggled to get along in the Empire, all of these harmful dynamics reemerged in the life of the Church. Why?

The radically counter-cultural gospel of Jesus simply could not coexist with the Church’s compromise with the unjust culture of the Mediterranean world. The only force that was able to hold this explosive witness together was the intense experience and expectation of Christ’s presence and coming Kingdom. A new Order was coming that would replace the old ways of Empire.

But the years passed. Decades went by without the outwardly visible return of Jesus that the community had assumed would take place. Jesus did not come riding on the clouds, taking his seat on the throne of David and establishing a millennial kingdom for all the world to see. Gradually, much of the Church lost a sense of Christ’s immanence. Jesus became someone out there, beyond the sky. His Kingdom became a distant reality, something that would eventually take shape at some point in the future – but certainly not today. For much of the Christian community, Jesus became a myth rather than an experienced relationship.

This feeling of distance from the Kingdom of God has made it even more difficult to resist the relentless pressure of Empire. It may be precisely because the Church has experienced and proclaimed God’s Kingdom as existing only in a far-off heaven that we have been so susceptible to the distortions and compromises of a long succession of human kingdoms.

As long as the followers of the Way had a sense of Christ’s living presence and power in the world, miracles happened. The sick were healed, the dead were raised and the poor had good news preached to them. Men and women entered into their originally intended state of full equality, just as they had been before the Fall. Jesus – not as mythical figure in some distant heaven, but as a viscerally present Teacher and Lord – broke down the divisions between Greek and Jew, slave and free, male and female. In this imminent experience of his Kingdom, all became brothers and sisters, functioning together as a living and growing body.

It is this astonishing reality that the early Quaker movement tapped into. Rather than looking to a distant Kingdom in the clouds, they experienced and proclaimed that Jesus had come to teach his people himself. The Kingdom of Heaven had come near, and all bets were off.

It was in this way – through the experience of Jesus himself, living within each believer and in the midst of the gathered community – that the Quaker movement was able to re-discover the radical equality of Christ’s Kingdom. In an age of deep patriarchy, Quakers spiritually empowered women just like the earliest church did. Women served as elders, apostolic ministers and evangelists. Women and men labored side by side for the radical gospel of the Risen Jesus, and all were free to preach as the Spirit gave the words.

This powerful experience of Jesus is available to us today. It is this personal and community experience of God’s life and presence that can break us out of our fallen addiction to racism, patriarchy, homophobia and all the many ways that this world encourages us to marginalize one another. When we walk in the light of Christ’s Spirit, God gives us power to resist the injustice and false assumptions of our present culture, this current manifestation of Empire.

Are we ready to embrace the white-hot gospel of a present and living Kingdom? Are we prepared for the subtle and radical ways that the Holy Spirit calls us to live in contrast to the dominant culture? Do we have the courage to embrace the love that raises up the lowly and humbles the proud? Is today the day when we will meet the Risen Lord for ourselves?

Why Quakers Should Celebrate Thanksgiving

One of the core teachings of the Quaker movement is that Christ is inwardly present in all times and all places. In seventeenth-century England, when holiness was restricted the tightly controlled religious rituals of an elite clergy, Friends made the bold claim that the real presence of Jesus was not to be found in the hocus pocus of wafers and wine. Instead, they testified that Jesus is risen in the very bodies of those women and men who follow him in spirit and in truth.

In a culture where religious ritual and narrow sacramentality was used to dominate common people, Friends insisted that Jesus is radically present in the lives of all people. Despite intense persecution by the religious and civil authorities, Friends clung to their conviction that God’s power and mercy spills beyond the walls of the cathedral, and that the baptizing power of the Spirit is not dependent on water poured by human hands.

Along with other radical groups in their day (such as the Puritans), Friends denounced many of the customs that those around them took for granted. Because the names of the days and months were derived from pagan deities (Thor’s Day, for example), Friends began using numbers instead (e.g. Today is Fifth Day, 11th Month 22nd, 2012). Friends also rejected holidays such as Easter and Christmas. This was not because they did not honor the spiritual significance of Christ’s birth and resurrection; rather, they believed that they could best experience Christ’s resurrected presence by following him each day. Every day should be Christmas. Every day should be Easter.

I feel that I understand why early Friends made these choices. They lived in an age where religious ritual had been largely co-opted by the civil and religious authorities. Christmas, Easter and saint’s days; water baptism and priestly rites; bread and wafers treated as the literal body and blood of Christ – all these things had become tools of control and oppression by the elites. Rather than encouraging their flock to follow Jesus, the priests and the rulers abused their positions, putting themselves in Christ’s place! In such circumstances, it was probably right for the early Friends to strip religion down to the bare bones and start from scratch.

But it has been three hundred and fifty years. Times have changed dramatically. Virtually our entire public consciousness, including our holidays and religious rituals, have been co-opted by the new empire of this world – unrestrained corporate capitalism. For most Americans today, Christmas is about Santa Claus and consumer electronics. Easter is about bunnies and brunches. And even Thanksgiving, long the least commercialized major holiday, is under siege by the “holiday shopping season.” This year, Black Friday has become “Black Thanksgiving.”

Ironically – but not accidentally – this wave of consumerism is rising precisely at the time that ordinary Americans are experiencing a crescendo of economic hardship and stress. With so many of us struggling to find meaningful employment at a living wage, it is difficult to resist the siren’s call of consumer goods. Just as many people suffering from depression struggle with uncontrolled eating habits, our nation’s frantic search for “the next best thing” is revealing. We are hurting so badly!

How is the Holy Spirit calling us to respond to the insatiable hunger, despair and emptiness that our culture is experiencing? What does it look like for us to challenge the systems of death that not only eat us alive, but seduce us into joining the feast?

Some Quakers might argue that our best option is to opt out of the “holiday season” entirely. Indeed, in light of the ways that corporate America has infested our holy seasons with glorified addiction, a strong argument can be made for total withdrawal. By refusing to participate in the wider culture’s holidays, we might gain some protection from the corroding influence of the consumer cult. We might even be able to encourage others to opt out, strengthening the base of resistance.

While the case for withdrawal is strong, I am convinced that there is a better response. Rather than ceding the major holidays to corporate America, I believe that it is time to reclaim them. Starting with Thanksgiving.

We are a nation that is over-worked to the point of exhaustion. We are a people desperately in need of Sabbath. Sunday was once widely reserved as a time of rest and worship, but now it is considered fair game by many employers. Even those of us who are privileged enough to be exempted from working weekends have largely lost the rest that our ancestors once knew. If we do not spend our weekends putting in extra hours on our electronic devices, we are out shopping, chauffeuring kids around, and generally catching up on all the unpaid work that we had to defer during the week.

Might there be an opening for us to celebrate Thanksgiving, not as the fear-driven ritual of consumption that is it morphing into, but rather as a Grand Sabbath? Thanksgiving, at its best, is an opportunity to be still and know that God is faithful in providing for our needs. It is a time to focus on demonstrating our love and thankfulness for those with whom God has called us into relationship. Thanksgiving can be a time of rest from our labors, a time of gratitude for the gift of simply being.

While this sense of rest, thankfulness and belonging should extend out into our whole lives, celebrating Thanksgiving provides a special opportunity to concentrate on our intention to live this way in the world. It serves as a reminder of how life can be when we are resting in the loving arms of Christ our Savior.

If that is not radical, I do not know what is.

Quaker Revival in West Philadelphia

…Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1b-2

The Body of Christ stands today at a crossroads. Western society is in the midst of a worldview shift like nothing since the Renaissance. Like both the early Church and the first generation of Quakers, we live in a world that is being turned upside down.

For fifteen centuries, western society took Christian truth claims for granted, at least on a superficial level. Today, however, we can no longer lean on the wider culture to back up our fundamental assumptions. This represents a deep challenge. After more than a thousand years of privileged status, we have mostly forgotten how to live as a people on the margins. We have gotten by as loyal citizens of Empire for so long that our life together has taken on Roman hues.
Though Friends aspire to be an egalitarian community, our structures are geared toward centralized management. While we acknowledge that the gospel is about loving relationship, we still tend to retreat into tidy propositional statements. Whether our favorite line is that “there is that of God in everyone,” or that “Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world,” these statements of belief, by themselves, cannot save us. We mistake the form for the substance.

Our world hungers to see a community that lives in the life and power of Jesus. Our great need today is not more information about God, but rather to witness the Word made flesh. All our proud traditions, fantastic ideas and noble acts of service are empty if we are not filled with the dynamic energy of the Holy Spirit. If we are to live into the great adventure that we sense God calling us into, our very lives must become the sacramental presence of Jesus.

This call to transformation is the centerpiece of any genuine movement of the Spirit. The call to turn toward God and away from darkness, lies at the heart of the message and ministry of the first Quakers, the early Church, and Jesus himself. If we are to live together in the life and power of Jesus Christ, our basic motion must be one of turning towards God, and away from the seduction of Empire.

In many branches of the Christian Church, there is a developed tradition of holding periodic revival meetings. A revival meeting is a special gathering for worship, which is focused on turning away from darkness and embracing the light. We are invited to cast aside the ways in which we separate ourselves from God, and to allow Jesus to embrace our hearts. Revival meetings operate on the principle that miraculous things can happen we hand ourselves over to the Lord and allow him to transform us in body, mind, heart and spirit.

Sensing the deep need that we in the North American Quaker community have for this kind of deep change, transformation and total surrender to Christ, several other Friends ministers and I have felt God leading us to hold a public revival meeting in West Philadelphia next month. We are inviting Friends – and anyone who is seeking a deeper relationship with God – to gather together to wait upon the living presence of Jesus, opening ourselves to what it would mean to truly surrender ourselves to his radical leadership.

Are we ready to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, being transformed by the renewing of our minds? What would it feel like to see the world through eyes unstained by hatred, fear, greed or pride? Are we ready to hold our structures, institutions, traditions and ideologies in the refining light of Christ’s presence? What would it mean to take the first step in turning away from the systems of death that enslave us and accepting the gift of abundant life that Jesus offers us?
Thursday, December 6th, you are invited to join us at 4718 Windsor Ave Philadelphia, PA 19143 for an evening of prayerful waiting on the Spirit of God. Together, we will offer up our lives for transformation and re-orientation in the service of love and truth.

Details for the Revival in West Philly:
Thursday, December 6th
Potluck at 6:00pm & Worship at 7:00pm
With visiting ministers from DC, Baltimore and Detroit
Check out the event on Facebook!

The Easy Yoke

Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my is burden light. – Matthew 11:28-30
I take a lot on myself. At present, I am working two part-time jobs, helping to found a grassroots community organizing group, and nurturing a new Quaker Meeting on Capitol Hill. Taking into account my commitments to Ohio Yearly Meeting, my marriage, and all the practical duties that come with being a householder, it is amazing that I sleep.
Not only do I sleep, I dream. Despite all of my existing responsibilities and projects, I continue to envision what the next steps might be. What is the next action? What will be the next project? How might my community be further energized and equipped? Even as I busy myself with the present work, my mind races ahead to next steps. I keep my eyes on the big picture.
This is good. I have learned by now that part of my role in community is to help cast vision. We sometimes get so caught up in the details of what we are already doing that we miss out on the new possibilities that God is opening up. We can get so fixated on technique that we lose the sense of overarching purpose that originally inspired us. Dreams are important in reminding us why we agreed to work so hard in the first place, and they often call us into new areas of growth and struggle.

But it is possible to dream too much – or in the wrong way. For me, the danger in dreaming comes in the form of delusions of grandeur. Because I am gifted to see the big picture with great clarity, I am often fooled into imagining that I can guide and direct the flow of history. I almost inevitably write myself into the script as an heroic figure, looking back to the great heroes of my faith – Paul of Tarsus, George Fox, Margaret Fell and James Nayler, for example – and seeing their high-profile examples as models for my own life.

This puts a lot of pressure on me. Though identifying with past heroes can be empowering, it can also lead to burn-out. This is probably because the heroes that I look up to represent something far bigger than themselves. In a sense, these high-profile men and women embody the witness of an entire community. When I look to Paul of Tarsus, I am really admiring the early Christian Church. When I am inspired by George Fox, it is actually the entire constellation of early Quaker leaders that influence me.

While it is tempting to fixate on an historical rock star like Margaret Fell, the reality is that she played an important, but limited role in an extended community that, as a whole, carried out an heroic mission. She did not do everything herself; rather, she used those gifts that the Spirit gave her to play the role that God assigned.

In my experience, this is at least part of why Jesus counsels us not to worry. He instructs us to focus on “today’s trouble” – the tasks, situations and people that we have been given to care for in this time and circumstance. Keeping our eyes on Jesus, and on the particular work he calls us into, there is freedom from the sense of helplessness that comes when we imagine that we have to do everything.
The easy yoke of Jesus is knowing that we are responsible to only one Master, and that God has given each of us particular gifts and responsibilities in this life. His easy yoke is knowing that true heroism consists not of doing everything, but of faithfully playing our part in a broader community. Our Savior’s burden is light because he frees us from the myth of the rugged individual, with its assumption that each of us must be self-sufficient. We come to experience that we were each made for a purpose, and that God is ultimately in control.

What has been your experience of Jesus’ easy yoke? Can you relate to the burden that I have described, the pressure to do everything? What are other ways that God is liberating you from those burdens that you do not need to carry? How is the Holy Spirit revealing your particular calling, and empowering you to live into it?

The Price of Dissent

Last month, I was arrested along with several of my colleagues as we sought to speak with Jamie Dimon before he testified to the Senate Banking Committee. We accompanied Deborah Harris, a DC homeowner who was unjustly foreclosed on by JP Morgan Chase, where Mr. Dimon serves as CEO and Chairman of the Board. We stood with her as she asked this powerful man a simple question: Why don’t you face the people that you foreclosed on?

Jamie Dimon’s answer was clear: Because you don’t matter. Mr. Dimon never acknowledged Deborah’s presence, and we were arrested and locked in jail for most of the day. We received a forceful response from those wealthy few who control our government and our economy: You will speak only when spoken to. You will learn who is in charge here.

This message continued to be delivered as we were arraigned at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on Tuesday morning. I was surprised by how much the court looked like TV courtrooms – think Judge Judy or The People’s Court. The dominant image was a very large seal of the court, with flags – of the United States and the District of Columbia – on either side. These symbols of authority rested immediately behind the judge’s seat, which sat far back, behind two long desks where about half a dozen clerks stood or sat, processing the perhaps fifty people being arraigned that morning.

The whole scene was purposefully crafted to elicit a feeling of reverence towards the authority of the court. The lawyers and those being arraigned sat in the forward part of the courtroom, on long, wooden benches that were very similar to pews in a church building. I leaned over to Deborah at one point and whispered, “I feel like we’re in church.” But I learned not to talk too much, as bailiffs regularly came by and sternly warned us not to speak or use our cell phones. Let all the earth keep silent before the authority of this court!

This sense of religiosity was no accident. When the judge entered the courtroom, one of the clerks pronounced a long string of official words, including, “God save the United States and this honorable court.” This invocation of God’s name – however shallow and formal – further emphasized to me the weight of the civil religion that permeated the court. Everything was mediated through ritual; all the details of the court’s furnishings, layout, decorum and vocabulary evoked an atmosphere of solemn reverence. But who, or what, were we venerating?

I was not sure whether it was Law, or the State, or the Court, or some vague spirit of Authority that we were being not-so-subtly pressured to worship, but one thing was very clear to me: It was not God. One of the most disturbing things about our arraignment yesterday was this blasphemous liturgy of the State, whose message was clear and powerful: Submit. Fear. Forget who you are and become what we say you are.

It was essentially the same feeling that I got at the jailhouse last month. The point of the system is to instill order, always defined in the system’s terms, regardless of the cost to human dignity. As we sat in our benches and were rebuked by the bailiffs for “talking too much,” we got the message: While we were in that courtroom, we were to be in utter dread of Authority, totally attentive to its whims. Just like in the jailhouse, the physical and psychological space was purposefully engineered to break down individual identity and self-will, transferring all agency and power to the officialdom and bureaucracy of the court.

It is one thing to write about this environment, but it is another thing entirely to experience it first hand. I would not have imagined it to be so irresistible, so psychologically overwhelming; yet I found it extremely difficult to stay grounded in God and in my true identity as a child of the light. Having this personal experience of the terrifying power of the court system – with all its blasphemous ritual and pomp – I am beginning to understand how truly bold George Fox was when he dared to stand before a judge and admonish him to “quake before the power of the Lord.” Fox knew better than anyone that the function of courts and judges and civil religion is not to tremble before the Lord, but to make others shake before human authority.

I was reminded of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes that there are indeed “many gods and many lords, yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” There are powers and rulers and authorities in this world, and we must decide which authority we are to place ourselves under. Will it be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Or will it be some other authority?

The image of Christ as judge, holding court and delivering the ultimate verdict at the end of time, takes on new relevance for me now that I have experienced the dread of the human court system. For though human courts can be unjust, Christ rules with equity and impartiality; while human courts direct veneration and awe back to themselves, Jesus directs our attention, awe and worship back to the Father, our sovereign Creator.

I do not mean to suggest that human courts are essentially evil and should be done away with. Paul writes in his epistle to the Romans that all authorities that exist have been instituted by God. The courts of the United States can only exist because God has created Authority itself; human institutions are intended to reflect this authority, which God created as a servant for good. Unfortunately, this God-given authority that was created to preserve life in human community has been twisted and corrupted by human sin – both individual and collective.

There is no doubt in my mind that our court system is deeply affected by the distorting effects of sin. Worst of all, our human institutions of authority often play a role in sustaining the fruit of sin: violence, injustice, dehumanization and fear. Probably the clearest example of this is the way our legal system perpetuates systematic racial discrimination. Except for most of our group, who had been arrested for a political offense, all of the other people being arraigned yesterday were African-American. We got to hear quite a few of their arraignment proceedings before our turn came around, and the great majority of them were charged with drug possession. Observing this process, I was more convinced than ever that the Drug War is being used as a tool of oppression, and racial and class discrimination.

Even for a case like ours, which has nothing to do with drugs, all of us were required to submit to a drug test. This did not sound so bad, until I learned that the test involved urinating into a cup in a room full of mirrors while a man stood by, watching me. This was really unnerving, and I had to try a second time before I could bring myself to do it.

Even after all of this, our case is still pretty much up in the air. We have been ordered to stay away from the Dirksen Senate Office Building, and we were assigned a status hearing for Monday, August 13th. We will not know anything more until then. In the meantime, I would ask for your continued prayers. I find the uncertainty that comes with being caught up in this legal machine very stressful, and I need all the support I can get to stay grounded.

I am so grateful for everyone who has reached out and shown support since the arrest. This whole process has really taught me the meaning of the word solidarity. Imprisonment and court proceedings are a special kind of distress, and having my community behind me is so important. Thank you for all the love and support that you have shown me. This would all be much harder if I did not have you to lean on.

Let me close with George Fox’s epistle #237:
Dear Friends and brethren,

The Lord is with you all everywhere, who suffer for his name and truth’s sake,
in all your bonds and afflictions be of good comfort, for the Lord is with you;
neither be dismayed at your sufferings, for if you suffer, Christ suffers;
and if you are persecuted, it is Christ who is persecuted;
and if you are not visited, it is Christ who is not visited;
and if you are oppressed, it is he who is oppressed.
And he will lay no more upon you than you are able to bear. […]
[Christ] has a fellow feeling with you all, in all your bonds and afflictions;
and Christ who suffers, will overcome all his enemies.
He reigns,
and they must be his footstool to stand upon.
And so, be of good faith, and be valiant for the truth upon the earth.

George Fox