Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Thought on 1 January 2011

As you may have seen, another letter has come from the Universal House of Justice. Of course, this was not unexpected, after all, they usually release one letter at the beginning of the Counsellors' Conference and another at the end.

Well, this is the letter released at the close of that conference, and it is addressed to the Baha'is of the World.

I realize that I have not yet finished sharing my few thoughts on the previous letter, 28 December 2010, but I did want to share one simple observation on this latest message.

In paragraph one (which is also not surprising, as there are only two paragraphs in this message), they put things into a bit of a perspective (still no surprise) when it comes to our activities. They say that we "are presenting the verities of the Faith and assisting souls to recognize the Blessed Beauty", as well as "serving as tutors of study circles wherever receptivity is kindled." They point out to us that we are "providing spiritual education to the child and kindly fellowship to the junior youth" and even "forging ties of spiritual kinship that foster a sense of community" "through visits to homes and invitations to" our own homes. They remind us that, "when called to serve on the institutions and agencies of the Cause," we "are accompanying others and rejoincing in their achievements."

Every single one of these statements is just laden with extra meaning, and leads to a series of questions about our own service in each of these areas.

For example, the second point, about tutoring, made me re-examine my earlier beliefs about who I would invite to a study circle. While someone may not necessarily express interest in service to humanity, they may have their questions answered by the Ruhi Books, which can, in turn, lead to a desire to serve. The key is to look for that receptivity. Oh, and it also reminds me that the courses are not necessarily the first step in someone being receptive. It may increase the enthusiasm, but there is generally some receptivity already there.

The next point, about children and junior youth, is very interesting, and I hope to explore this more when I look at this letter. For now, I just note that they say we are "providing spiritual education" to the children, and then say that what we are providing for the junior youth is "kindly fellowship". Interesting. And I think it is worthy of more exploration. (And it is also a bit of a surprise to me.) (The difference in description, not the point about being worthy of more exploration.)

The last point is about service "on the institutions and agencies". If we have ever wondered what our job is, whether we are serving as an assistant to the Auxiliary Board or on an Assembly in a cluster with multiple Assemblies, the direction here is clear: we are to be "accompanying others and rejoicing in their achievements". (At least, that's my understanding of this statement.) Oh, and it's not that we neglect the rest of the areas of service on these bodies, for they each have their own specific mandate, but it seems to me that if we want to serve most effectively in any of these arenas, we need to be do doing this accompanying. For example, we know that teaching is supposed to be at the top of every Assembly's agenda. This is clearly stated in the Writings of the Guardian. But how can we consult on this issue effectively if we are not engaged in the teaching work at this time? And what is the most effective way to learn about it? To accompany others.

So that's just a simple thought about this letter. For now, I'll leave it at that and just sort of add it on to the end of the study of the 28 December letter. (Oh, and I'm sure that's no surprise, either.)

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