O Friend! Where dost thou dwell – in a palace of thine own making, or in a field of God’s? At what workest thou – many matters of great, worldly import, or at the simple tending of sheep, lest thy business should blind thee to the day of thy visitation? Has that day not come to thee, and has the glory of the Lord not shone round about thee with great light; has the Lord’s messenger not come to thee and spoken to thee in that light, and couldst thou see clearly in it that this was from the Lord?
Didst thou not fear, and did the Lord’s messenger not comfort thee in thy fear? Did the Lord’s messenger not then tell thee the good tidings of great joy, and proclaim Christ the Lord to thee? And didst thou not then see and hear the praise of the multitude of angels? Didst thou not say with them, glory to God in the highest; and didst thou accept peace and goodwill in thy heart?
Didst thou believe without question, and journey in thy heart to the City of David; not to a palace, but to the meanest place therein, the humblest place therein, a stable, where Caesar’s business did not reach? Didst thou witness therein, in the place prepared for him, the newly born Son of God, the Lord’s anointed? And, having seen and known all this in thy heart, hast thou now gone and made known abroad the saying that was told thee in thy heart, by all thou sayest and by all thy actions and conversations? And does the world wonder at the things to which thou bearest witness?
Thus begins Christ, with this birth, in the heart of whoever is prepared to receive him; whoever will make their hearts into fields and stables and mangers, will receive the King’s birth in them, so that they will live, or rather he will live in them, and of their hearts make a palace, a temple, a kingdom.
[a transcript from part of a message given by a Friend to a liberal meeting in Shrewsbury, in 9th Month 1995]
We do not go in much for portraiture, finding it a vain practice. However neither do we shun it if it marks a special occasion or forms a record of a person or an event. The photograph opposite was found amongst some papers and is of our late friend Tony Back-Adams, who is remembered amongst us with fondness as a faithful and humble servant of Christ. His plain witness was often misunderstood and criticised by the outside world who, in their own pharisaism, accused him of being a Pharisee and an ‘outward Quaker’. Those who got to know him, however, knew his gentleness and forbearance, and that his appearance was a deep conviction and the result of following the clearest leadings of the Lord to be ‘seen’. He was never ashamed to say the name of Christ.