A friend in need is a friend indeed. And if you need Jesus ye heathen, Friends Church Yorba Linda may be the place for you.
Your pomade-powered prophet visited the historically Quaker fellowship on Saturday night, taking his place among the lily-white saints and trying to stay awake among a rather listless crowd of Christians.
Crazy like a Fox
The Friends Church started under George Fox in the middle of the 17th Century. A weaver's son, Fox sought a balance between Church of England rituals and the hellfire and brimstone preaching of the Puritans.
According to church lore, as he travelled England in search of a faith that satisfied, he heard a voice that said “there is one, even Jesus Christ, who can speak to thy condition.”
Fox taught that Christ speaks today, that people had the light of Christ within them, which gave them access to God, and therefore killed any need of cathedrals, rituals or other trappings that came with Christian worship. Thousands would convert to his brand of faith. Known as “finders,” they formed meeting groups called “Friends,” based on John 15:15, where Jesus called his followers “friends.”
Known for their pious prayers, their detractors called them “Quakers” because they often could be seen shaking during petitions to the deity. But it was the next generation of Quakers that decided to focus on silent prayer, that earned them the reputation of sitting in silence during worship meetings.
Quakers first came to America around 1656, finding safety in Rhode Island from Puritan hostility in Massachusetts. Like other splinter groups, the Friends themselves have splintered. Depending on which group you join, you could find yourself focused on inward revelation over Scripture, or social justice, or dressing and acting like an old Quaker.
Or, in Yorba Linda, megachurch offerings of a spacious sanctuary, a modern evangelical worship band and giant TV screens to keep your attention in case the Lord gets boring.
Friends Church in Yorba Linda got its humble beginnings on June 4, 1911, when a handful of saints sought a Christian education for their chilrens. The church was organized on Aug. 10, 1912, and charter members included Frank A. Nixon and Hannah M. Nixon, mom and pop to former President Richard M. Nixon. Friends lore suggests Tricky Dick was a birthright member of the church, though his family eventually moved to a Friends church in east Whittier.
Catching the vapors
The OCeeker parked his American-made motor vehicle in the large lot off Lakeview Avenue, smoked a Marlboro Black and listened to Brownie McGhee's “I Ain't Gonna Scold You.” The sight of white worshippers and the sound of Piedmont blues might confuse a lesser feller, but the OCeeker is a multi-taskin' man. He helped coached his ex-wife into birthing their first-born while downing an Ultimate Cheeseburger, ye heathen.
Only three people among hundreds of the holy greeted the OCeeker. They were the greeters, God bless 'em. The cavernous sanctuary saw a wide stage backed by what had the appearance of a giant air conditioner, lit softly in blue and red. Perhaps a quarter of the sanctuary was filled, but being as how it was Saturday, one can assume that these were the truly committed saints. That, or the get-n-go kind that want to sleep in Sunday.
Aaron Blanton led a tight worship set that featured a couple of classic hymns among modern praise choruses. Picture facial hair and rolled up, long-sleeved plaid shirts, and you get the vibe of the six-piece band. The OCeeker fancied a blonde l'il cutie booty, but alas, she wore the ring of doom upon her dainty digit.
After worship, a lady saint encouraged us to touch a seat and pray for the upcoming Vacation Bible School, where 900 kids are expected to get “Zapped” (that's the theme) by the power of God. The OCeeker supplicated the deity on their behalf, and asked how best to break a harem member's heart.
Lead Pastor Matthew Cork then took the stage, dressed in light blue jeans and a casual shirt. He continued a teaching series through the book of Micah, an Old Testament prophet who rebuked sin among the children of Israel and prophesied a new world order under the reign of Jesus Christ.
In a rather Fava Flav-esque move, Cork preached in front of 19 clocks, the theme being that we should have an eternal perspective in the midst of pain.
“Don't substitute the timeless hope of Jesus for the hopelessness of time,” Cork said.
An efficient and encouraging teacher, Cork shared from the fifth chapter of Micah, which includes verse 10: “Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in birth pangs. For now you shall go forth from the city, you shall dwell in the field, and to Babylon you shall go. There you shall be delivered; there the Lord will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.”
Though Israel would suffer temporary judgment, the Christ would come and deliver them from their sins.
As Cork said, there is newness of life that comes through suffering and pain. This brought much comfort to the Yorba Linda believers, who no doubt were heavy-laden with the pain of shrinking financial portfolios.
At the end of his homily, Cork reminded the church that life is but a vapor. He then sprayed what appeared to be air freshener, to show how quickly the vapor, and life, vanishes. The OCeeker could think only of the prophet Biz Markie, who also caught the vapors, and after gettin' rejected, was very depressed, until he sat and wrote some def doo-doo rhymes at his rest.
The OCeeker gave Cork's sermon three out of five boxes of Quaker Oats. More soothing than scholarly, his style suits well the community he serves.
Friends Church meets every Saturday at 6 p.m., and every Sundy at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. at 5141 Lakeview Ave., Yorba Linda, (714) 777-2875; www.friendschurchyl.com