What is worship sharing?
Worship Sharing is a tool for engaging focus (shining the Light) deeply and sharply on a specific topic or issue.
Worship sharing is similar to meeting for worship in that each spoken message is followed by silent reflection. The difference is that in worship sharing each person has a turn to speak and there is one common focus for the gathering.
Introducing worship sharing.
1. Worship sharing begins with silent centering. It works well if everyone is seated in a circle. The teacher is a participant in the circle.
2. Each person has a turn to share. A person may "pass," if that feels right. Everyone has an opportunity to share before anyone shares a second time.
Note: It can be useful to pass a beautiful object, such as a seashell or a Native American “talking stick,” so that it is clear when the object reaches you, it is your turn to speak. Another idea is to use an object related to the query, e.g. a paper crane for peace, a leaf or flower for stewardship.
3. Worship sharing is focused around a topic or query (a special question for reflection with no obvious yes/no answer). The leader reads the focus topic and/or query out loud to the group after the opening silent worship time and asks another person to read it aloud, as well, so that the gathered group has the opportunity to hear it read by several voices. The query could also be printed on small cards for each person to hold.
4. When one person is speaking, everyone else directs all of their attention to listening to the words of the speaker with open mind and heart. This is not a time for discussion, reaction or debate. Each person’s sharing is a gift to be received without judgment. Responses may be shaped in part by previous speakers; however, all responses should be directly to the query, not to what others have said.
5. The most meaningful response to each sharing is respectful, silent reflection.
6. Worship sharing ends by returning to a period of silent reflection. The end of the reflection is marked by the shaking of hands, just as in the end of meeting for worship.
How to formulate a query?
Objective: To develop a query that can be explored in a deep and meaningful way that is accessible to children.
Introduction for the Children:
Talk about the word “query,” which means a special kind of question that is used for reflection – a question with no quick and obvious yes/no answer. Queries are a way that Quakers use to examine and guide our lives and actions. Friends use queries to explore an issue or and share the Light of understanding with each other.
Sample Queries for Young Children:
• How can I remain peaceful if people around me are fighting?
• How many toys are enough? Do I have enough or too many or too few?
Sample Queries for Middle School students:
• How can I resolve conflict in my own life and how does this inform the resolution of conflict in the world?
• How can I help to keep the environment healthy and beautiful for myself and others?
Sample Queries for High School students:
• How do I keep my own integrity while being open in dialogue to the difference that might change my point of view?
• Is war the greatest evil human beings commit against each other?
Students of any age are quite adept at formulating their own queries. In some Friends schools, each class takes a turn formulating a query for a larger group either for worship sharing or for meeting for worship. Some Friends schools have committees of students and faculty at each division level to look after the spiritual life of the school. These committees are a good source for developing queries.
An excellent source for queries is any Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice.
For more lessons on centering with children, see these resources available at www.friendscouncil.org
Meeting for Worship: Written for Students by Students,
The Mystery of meeting for Worship: The Impact on the Educational Process.
Opening Doors to Quaker Worship available from Friends General Conference. 4/06