As Way Opens
Why I am Thankful for First Friends Meeting shared in Meeting for Worship by Tom Fisher
Those of you that don't know me are saying to yourselves, "Who is that?" And those of you who do know me are saying, "He hasn't been here forever."
Good observations all. But Ruthie asked me to do this, and you don't say no to Ruthie.
This coming week we will celebrate Thanksgiving and all we are thankful for; America, family, our meeting, etc. We then enter December and celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Sharing with you gave me the opportunity to think directly why I am thankful for this meeting.
When we give thanks we often do so with regard to how it has helped with everyday life, and I give thanks in that way. Several years ago, my wife Barbara had shoulder surgery and we needed help with meals and transportation to the doctor. First Friends was there to help and we are thankful for that. But more important, I think, I am thankful for First Friends in a more abstract less tangible way.
I am thankful for the way in which the meeting deals with conflict. Dealing with conflict is never easy. They do so, attempting to understand what the real concerns of all parties are and then try to resolve the matter in a way that all can come away feeling good about the resolution or at least, that the process allowed them to be heard. Consensus is attempted and often reached. Nothing is rammed down, and hopefully all are satisfied
I am thankful to belong to a meeting where a diverse theology exists. Quakers run the spectrum in their beliefs from the universalist to the evangelical. I think that diversity is reflected in this meeting and all shades of the theology are accepted and embraced.
I am thankful to belong to a meeting where, at least to my mind, folks are not judged by anything but, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. in his ‘I have a dream’ speech, the content of their character. Theology, cultural status or views, economic status, occupation, physical or disability issues don't matter. I'm grateful you even accept lawyers. Seriously, all are embraced and included.
Thank you First Friends.
Considering the Query: ‘Be honest with yourself. What unpalatable truths might you be evading? When you recognize your shortcomings, do not let that discourage you. In worship together we can find the assurance of God’s love and the strength to go on with renewed courage.’ From: Advices and queries; Britain Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice, 5th edition, @ 1995-2015 Quaker Faith and Practice
As it happens, we come to this query during the week of Thanksgiving. What a strange time to think of things that are ‘unpalatable’. Here we are, anticipating so many things pleasing to our palate – the family favorites awaiting us at the table of thanks; the food and drink that slides so easily down our throats. But what about those things that are hard to swallow? What about those things we find in ourselves that are most difficult, served cold?
Friends, we are reminded in this query that as we gather around the table of our life, we gather in worship, always. Our family and friends form our meeting, both near and far. As God opens each new day, regardless of its title, it is a Thanksgiving Day, a day for giving thanks for the gathered meeting that is our life. It is a day of worship, through the power of the Holy Spirit. And what is it that we have most to give God thanks for? God’s loving presence. grace and forgiveness. Because of these things, we are given courage to face the most foul-tasting, unpalatable truths about ourselves. Through God’s strength in us, and the care of our family and friends, we are able to remove unpleasant items from our table, and instead, replace them with healthy, delicious things that God has always had, ready-made for us. Do not be discouraged. ‘Taste and see that God is good.’ Remember, even when faced with challenges that have been difficult we have many, many things for which to be thankful.
Joys & Concerns
Barbara Roy sends this greeting our way: I want to say thank you to my friends at First Friends.whom I have been so blessed to know over the last 7-8 years, and also a huge thank-you to those who sent me notes after I broke my arm in May. You have given me more than you will ever know. I have not returned to First Friends. I am hoping to move to Bloomington in the next 6 months in order to be nearer to my daughter and her family. I think of you all daily and wish each of you the very best. I hope that in the future I will find a church community again in my life that is as caring, and one in which I can trust. Lovingly, Barbara Roy
Please hold Catherine Swanson in the Light as her father passed away on Sunday November 22nd in Bloomington IN. His memorial service will be held on December 3rd. I am sure Catherine would appreciate your prayers and cards
Dr. Lowell Renshaw turns 95 on December 10th. Lowell has been a beloved member of First Friends for at least 50 years and we still occasionally see him when he drives to our Meeting from Columbus. Let’s send him a whole lot of birthday cards to let him know how much he means to us.
Jeff Rasley wrote an article that will be published in the December issue of Friends Journal titled, ‘Yes It Does Take a Village’ discussing poverty, wealth and crime. It is a great article and we are glad that Jeff calls First Friends his faith community. Watch for your upcoming issue!
Norma Wallman’s mother, Viola Bangle has been hospitalized this past week, and remains in the hospital, but has been released from Intensive Care, for which we’re thankful. Please hold Viola in your prayers for God’s care and healing, rest and refreshment, and remember Norma, as well.
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
Midwest Food Bank Lunch - Thanks to Jody Long, Tom Krughoff, Ruthie Tippin, Nancy Pennington, Kathy and Bill Farris, Kim Kiser, and Carol and Jim Donahue for your help with the luncheon for the volunteers at the Midwest Food Bank. Midwest has expressed its appreciation for the wonderful lunch that you provided. A special thanks to Jody for the delicious pulled pork.
Vespers Annual Holiday Concert – Sunday, December 6th
We invite you to attend our annual Vespers concert, that will preview the many talented musicians, singers, and artists of our Meeting. Our choir and hand bell choir have been practicing hard for this concert, and it should be quite a delight. Following the concert there will be a complimentary light buffet, hosted by our Fellowship Committee. Plan to join us for the evening!
Christmas Caroling on December 13th - Please join us for Christmas caroling on December 13th. All ages and abilities are welcome. We will meet at 3:20 at the Stratford in Carmel in the Retreat Lobby. We will also sing at American Village and the Forum. After caroling, we will have dinner at Steak and Shake. If you have any questions, please contact the office or Carol Donahue.
The USFW Christmas Tea is coming, December 13th after worship. Please join us in the parlor for delicious cookies! We need your help in supplying those wonderful cookies. Please let the office or Jody Long (firstname.lastname@example.org) know if you can help us with a couple of dozen cookies. This quarter we are focusing on the USFW Joy Fund. The JOY FUND commemorates Eliza Armstrong Cox's joyous service to the Women's Missionary Union (now United Society of Friends Women International), and was established in 1935. Honoring Eliza's special interest in Native Americans, the recipients of this year’s Joy Fund are workers with the three Friends Native American Centers: MOWA Choctaw (Alabama); Mesquakie (Iowa); and Kickapoo (Oklahoma). There will be a free will offering at the Tea for this fund.
Grief Gathering on Sunday November 29th after Meeting for Worship - Circle of Care is hosting a lunch and discussion facilitated by Leslie Kartholl for those who have experienced a loss of a family member or cherished friend. This lunch and time together is a tangible way our Meeting is demonstrating our care for each other during times of sadness. We invite anyone that is interested in gathering with others to share and reflect on the experience of loss. Please contact the office (email@example.com) if you plan to attend. This event is sponsored by our Circle of Care.
Thank you for your pledges! First Friends is deeply grateful for the generosity of Friends in support of our ministries and extends a big ‘thank you’ to all of who have turned in pledge cards for 2016. This indication of support for 2016 is helpful as we plan a budget for the New Year. If you haven’t had a chance to turn in your pledges, you are welcome to do so by sending it to the Meeting office.
With thanks and gratitude,
Stewardship Team 2016
College Care packages for our students - We invite you to bring treats, gift cards or other assorted goodies to fill shipping boxes, located in the foyer, to show our college students that First Friends is thinking about them and holding them in the Light as they enter final exams for first semester. If it’s easier for you to have the office shop for treats, we will gladly take a money donation. There are 14 students that we will provide a care box for. We need your donations by Thursday, December 3rd to mail the packages in time for study for exams.
Earlham Choir Performance & Housing Needed
The Earlham Choir will be performing at First Friends on Friday January 8th, 2016. The 55 member choir will need housing that evening and transportation on Saturday. Local Earlham Alumni will be helping provide some of this, but we are also asking members of First Friends to volunteer to host students and faculty Friday night through Saturday morning.
· Transport student from the performance to your home on Friday evening
· Provide breakfast on Saturday morning
· Transport the student to a central pickup location on Saturday morning at around 7:30 AM (location to be determined)
If you are able to help with this, please provide the following information to the office and copy Carolyn Tinsley at firstname.lastname@example.org
· I can provide sleeping space for _____ persons on Friday night, January 8, 2016.
· Gender preferences for guests if any
· Please provide a brief description of sleeping arrangements (e.g., one room with two twin beds, etc.).
· Please list any pets you have
· Choir members and faculty agree to no smoking inside homes, but if you have a preference for no smokers, please indicate that as well
“Friends of Nature Kids” ~ Twenty Questions: In a small group, take turns thinking of something from nature. The person whose turn it is has to answer any question about the object, as long as the question can be answered “yes” or “no”. Each person can ask as many questions as she wants until she gets a “no” for an answer, and then it’s the next person’s turn. Have fun! From: ‘52 Nature Activities’ by Lynn Gordon