As Way Opens
I love these days leading up to Easter Sunday. This is one of my favorite times of the year to reflect on my faith. I sense, too many people get caught up in Easter egg hunts and baskets, nice dinners or wearing new clothes to church. Yet for Christians, there should be no distraction with shopping, gifts or chocolate bunnies. Instead, the symbolism and beauty of these days should far outweigh the commercialism.
Yet we are easily preoccupied. Sometimes it's a struggle to see relevance in an event that took place so long ago. One big problem for Christians is that the resurrection has been reduced to an event that "happened," instead of an ongoing part of our daily lives.
Preparing for Easter this year, I have been reflecting on several scripture verses that have helped me newly recognize the "resurrection life" we have been given. I have found Eugene Peterson's The Message edition of the Bible to help emphasize this theme.
I noticed that right in the center of the life of the early followers of Christ was this concept of resurrection life. Let me point a couple scriptures out.
"If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of His Son. Now that we're at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of His resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!" Romans 5:10-11
The first followers of Christ basked in resurrection living every single day. To them, the resurrection wasn't just about receiving eternal life in the future; it was about fully living life in the here and now.
"God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike 'What's next, Papa?'" Romans 8:14.
This resurrected living not only gave purpose, it also provided opportunity and hope. Resurrection was motivation to endure, but not just endure -- to undergo the worst that life could bring while still living and even taking a stand.
"I look death in the face practically every day I live. Do you think I'd do this if I wasn't convinced of your resurrection and mine as guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah Jesus? Do you think I was just trying to act heroic when I fought the wild beasts at Ephesus, hoping it wouldn't be the end of me? Not on your life! It's resurrection, resurrection, always resurrection, that undergirds what I do and say, the way I live." 1 Corinthians 15:31-32.
Friends, we need to learn to live out resurrection in our daily lives. Too often we take resurrection for granted, become complacent, and "run through the motions" of faith. We must remember that we have been led from life’s prison cells into the wide-open spaces of God's love and power and that there is an adventure to truly live!
"So, if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up and be alert to what is going on around Christ -- that's where the action is. See things from His perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life, even though invisible to spectators, is with Christ in God. He is your life." Colossians 3:1-3.
Let’s work on being hopeful and coming together to see where our freedom takes us -- where this incredible opening we have in the veil of this life leads us into "resurrection life" today, tomorrow and the days after that.
From Mary B, Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation (IFCL) ~ At our IFCL meeting on Saturday April 6, 2019, we learned that SB 613 was having a hearing in the House Finance Committee. This the bill that has given Gov. Holcomb “heartburn”, because it would allow out of state lenders to legally offer short term loans above the state’s previously defined loan sharking rate of 76%. Some of the “products” could have interest rates of 167%.
IFCL has been working with a coalition of churches and non-profit organizations that has given testimony to our legislators about the negative impact this kind of lending would have on our most economically vulnerable Hoosier citizens. Despite the strong testimony given, SB 613 kept moving through the Senate and had crossed over to the House.
Our coalition partners encouraged IFCL members to attend the hearing and be a presence during the committee hearing. Our leaders were told that signs would be distributed to silently voice our concerns and that various media would be present.
On Sunday during unprogrammed worship, SB 613 was on my heart. I thought about what a terrible burden these kind of loans would have on someone who is working a minimum wage job with an emergency spending need. How could they ever repay a loan with that kind of interest rate? Into my mind came a thought: Usury is evil. Teachings of the early church forbade members to loan money at interest. I didn’t want to carry a sign; I decided to get a T-shirt that reminded legislators, that usury is wrong and that there are better ways to help people through a crisis.
I consulted Pastor Bob about the wording I was planning to use and I tried to find a vendor who could print on a T-shirt. No one could give me a one day turn around, so I bought a fabric transfer kit from Staples and put the following on my shirt, front and back: “USURY IS EVIL Quakers against Payday Lending.” On Tuesday morning, our Quaker contingent traveled to the Statehouse and found the hearing chamber. Most legislators were not in the room yet, and I felt moved to take a front row seat, where I stood silently as the legislators walked past me to take their seats. An 11th hour amendment had been added to this very bad bill which legislators had received 45 minutes prior to the hearing. The bill sponsor tried to convince committee members that this was a needed product and that having a high interest rate was justified for serving high risk population and that this would help build credit. Despite some excellent questions asked by committee members, the bill and amendment was passed along party lines.
We felt depressed and defeated that such a bad bill could be approved. However, several people loved the T-shirt that I was wearing. They wanted pictures and the news media wanted interviews with me and other members of our group. We felt that there might be hope and we went to meet with several House members to share our concerns about this bill and that Quakers were against it. Later we heard that SB 613 was covered in the IndyStar, Channel 59, the Statehouse Files and Indiana Legislative Review.
Today we learned that SB 613 failed to move forward in the House. The actions of many people helped defeat this terrible bill. A little inspiration during unprogrammed worship and being obedient to the vision certainly helped raise awareness before the public.
Mary B appeared on the news—you can find her mentioned in the Indianapolis Business Journal here: https://www.ibj.com/articles/73246-amendment-to-payday-loan-bill-unable-to-calm-community-advocates and in print and video on Fox 59 here: https://fox59.com/2019/04/09/amended-loan-shark-bill-passes-committee-moves-to-full-indiana-house/
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
Comedy with First Friends - Postponed ~ Please note that comedy night with First Friends at ComedySportz scheduled for tomorrow, April 18 is being postponed for the time being due to lack of interest. Please keep an eye out later in the year for a reschedule of this event.
Men’s Threshing Together ~ Since our ComedySportz event has been postponed, we will resume Threshing Together this month. If you are interested in gathering with other men who mull over current issues or topics, where all points of view are heard, no decisions are made, and all in a non-threatening atmosphere over a meal, then Threshing Together is for you! Join us for our next meeting on Thursday, April 18 at 7:00pm. See locations here: http://bit.ly/2UsqmQv.
Please note that the Meetinghouse will be open on Good Friday, April 19 from noon-3:00pm for anyone who would like to come worship in the Meetingroom. You may choose self-guided worship or unprogrammed worship. Feel free to come by on this holy day.
Rise Up and Sing ~ ♪ ♫ ♪ Singing in the sun, singing in the rain ♪ ♫ ♪ Sing for the joy of it, sing through the pain. ♪ ♫ ♪ ~ Join our casual, happy group on third Friday, April 19th. 7 PM in the parlor. Friends, bring your friends. Led as usual by Jim K.
Sunday School/Easter Morning Notices ~ Please note that there will be no Sunday School on Sunday, April 21st as we prepare for our Easter celebrations that morning. The choir will still meet at 9am, as well as the youth, who will meet at 9 to hide the eggs for the children’s Easter egg hunt that morning. All other Sunday school activities will not take place that morning. Unprogrammed worship in the Parlor will still take place during the 9 o’clock hour. We apologize for any confusion.
Please note the following Monthly Meeting changes: There will be no Monthly Meeting in April (due to Easter). There will also be a 30-minute delay in the start of Monthly Meeting on May 19 to allow participation in the annual recognition lunch.
Christian Education Sunday School Survey ~ How is the Sunday School hour at 9am working for you and your family? How can it be improved? Please take a few minutes to fill out our survey to help us evaluate our Sunday school offerings and make them even better! This feedback is important to make sure our Christian Education here at First Friends is the best it can be. Find the survey at http://bit.ly/2vb98b0.
Help Support Right Sharing of World Resources! Thank you all who have supported Right Sharing of World Resources this year as we try to raise money to sponsor a RSWR project in memory of Ann P. Right Sharing of World Resources (RSWR) is an organization that helps fund and support small business run by women in Kenya, India, and Sierra Leone. We are only $292 away from our goal to sponsor a project in Kenya. We will receive news and updates from the women we help support. Please consider making a donation as we are so close to reaching our goal! Thank you for your generosity!
College Care packages - It is time to send care packages to our college students as they prepare for their final exams at school. Due to the late Easter holiday, we will put out boxes on Sunday, April 28 which will also be the only Sunday the boxes will be set out. We will prepare to mail them the following day. Please feel free to fill the boxes with goodies like candy, cookies, cards, and other treats. Please bring enough for all 6 of our college students. Don’t have time to shop? We will gladly accept monetary donations—and we will do the shopping for you! Just leave your check in the offering plate on Sunday with the notation “college packages” or send your donation to the office. Time is limited as final exams are already nearly upon us! Thank you for your support!
Come join our merry band of peaceful Weed Warriors! We are planning the following times to enhance the beauty of our Meditational woods. Here are our weeding dates for April and May. We will meet from 9-10:30 am to avoid the heat and damaging sun. If the Spirit moves us, we can go out for coffee or tea afterwards. We are focusing on the entry, Peace pole, butterfly garden and Worship Circle while maintaining our wildlife area. Our next meetup will be on Wednesday, April 24, where we will clean up the Meditational Circle. Please also join us on May 3, May 8, May 13, May 22, and May 29 for additional work days. We don't expect you for every one of these dates, but the more the merrier and many hands make light work! Mid May we'll re-evaluate the frequency. Thank you, ~Mindy S and Mary B, co-clerks
Seasoned Friends ~ Our next gathering for our “Seasoned Friends” retirement-age Friends group will be Wednesday, April 24 at 11:30am. Our luncheon will focus on fresh spring foods and salads. After our luncheon we will hear from guest speaker Steven Baranyk who will tell us about Elizabeth Friedman, a Quaker dubbed “America’s first female cryptanalyst” whose work includes decrypting German messages during WWII. If you’re interested, please RSVP to the Meeting Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-255-2485.
Garden Work Day ~ If you are a gardener, or interested in helping out in our garden, you are invited to our garden work day which will be held Saturday, April 27 at 9:30am. Anyone is invited, no RSVP needed! We hope to see you there. Also, it’s still not too late to reserve your plot if you’d like a space for the season! Simply contact the office at email@example.com.
A Gathering of Hope for Friends who have experienced loss ~ Circle of Care is glad to present our “Gathering of Hope” on Sunday, April 28 after Meeting for Worship. This is a gathering for anyone who has experienced any kind of loss in the last year, such as a job loss, relationship loss, pet loss, divorce, etc. We will hold a lunch and a facilitated discussion on loss and grief. If you’d like to attend, please RSVP with the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-255-2485.
Oak Leaf: Meeting for Reading’s April pick is The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe! Even though he cannot be with us, this book was suggested by Dan R who found it a real encouragement. The discussion will be on Tuesday April 30th at 7 pm in the Parlor. New York Times Review: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/books/review/the-end-of-your-life-book-club-by-will-schwalbe.html Click on this link to follow event information on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1864967900382889/. Contact the office at email@example.com if you’d like to receive email updates.
Shalom Zone’s 5th Tuesday Event ~ The next 5th Tuesday event sponsored by the Shalom Zone churches will be Tuesday, April 30 at 7:00pm at Epworth United Methodist Church, 6450 Allisonville Rd, 46220. The topic will be Healthcare and Human Rights. Our speaker will be Fran Quigley, a clinical professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, where he directs the Health and Human Rights Clinic. He also edits the weekly publication, Faith in Healthcare, www.faithinhealthcare.org, and coordinates the non-profit advocacy group of the same name. This is a free event and all are invited to attend. We hope to see you there!
Interested in starting a native plant garden? The Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District is selling native plant kits. These kits take the guess work out of creating your own native garden. Each kit includes a selection of tried and true native plans to create your own pollinator garden, shade, prairie garden or rain garden. Orders are due by May 10th. For more information to order please visit https://www.hamiltonswcd.org/native-plant-sale.html.
Meditational Woods Bird of the Month for April:
Downy Woodpecker: Broadcaster
When I was in high school, I received extra credit in Spanish class for listening to HCJB, an international shortwave radio station in Quito, Ecuador, famous for its religious broadcasts al mundo. Later, during my college days, LeSEA Broadcasting, from South Bend, built their antenna near Noblesville, and broadcast the message of the gospel over Channel 40 in this area. Getting the word (Word) out was the goal.
Birds, too, rely on broadcasting to get their messages across. In April, the male of many species here in Indiana is in full song, trying to attract a female to his territory, the boundaries of which he will use song to defend. However, instead of singing, woodpeckers drum. Yes, that rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat, etc is NOT the sound of the woodpecker drilling for an insect or excavating a nest hole. It is instead the bird’s way of marking its claim to that part of a woods.
I have depicted a Downy Woodpecker just having finished a drum, now listening for a nearby rival. The red spot on the back of its head shows it to be a male. The female is identical, except that the median black stripe goes from the forehead over the top and down to the nape, without the red spot. Of the seven species of woodpeckers occurring in Indiana, this is the most common, both in our woods and in Indiana as a whole. It is about 6 inches long, while its nearly-identical cousin, the Hairy Woodpecker, is more than 9 inches long (with a much larger bill). I find the downy on many strolls through the Meditational Woods, but have yet to observe a hairy. Enjoy the drumming from now until June, when the WB (woodpecker broadcasting) will “go off the air” until next spring. ~Brad J
Teacher Position Opening with MSPC ~ Maple Seeds Preschool Cooperative (MSPC, formerly Meridian Street Preschool Cooperative), a non-profit organization, is a play-based program centered on the philosophy that children, parents, and teachers learn from each other. Through a purposefully planned environment, we carefully nurture each child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. The 3/4s Classroom Teacher would be responsible for providing quality, developmentally appropriate programming for one class of children with the support of two participating parents daily. The class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30-11:45 a.m with enrichment until 1:30pm on Thursdays only. This position begins in September 2019, with fall and spring breaks, and summer break from June through August each year. Salary to be discussed at interview. For more information including how to apply, please visit http://bit.ly/2VAypqH.
Books Galore ~ We have a fine library containing many books on Quaker practices, beliefs, and history. The library, refreshed and well-organized by John Moorman and committee, is beside the office. Also see the pamphlets from Pendle Hill covering topics of current interest. We also have a book exchange cart. You are welcome to take a book, you are invited to donate books, but please, just a few at a time. The cart is in Fellowship Hall. Or sometimes beside the side entrance to the parlor.