As Way Opens

Listen to the long stillness:
New Life is stirring
New dreams are on the wing
New hopes are being readied:
Humankind is fashioning a new heart
Humankind is forging a new mind
God is at work.
This is the season of Promise
by Howard Thurman

We are entering the advent season for 2015, a time where we celebrate the incarnation of God on earth through Jesus.  It is a time of hope and promise and mystery.  I am finishing a class at Earlham School of Religion called Theological Reflection and have spent the last three months thinking hard about some of these mysteries:  the Trinity, salvation, the incarnate Christ, etc.  I never fully understood the scope of disagreement, discussion and division that the understanding of the incarnation of Jesus Christ has placed in our history until this class.   It has strengthened my belief that God did break through to humanity in a different way through Jesus.  But I also believe that God continues to break through today.  What about an incarnate Bill, an incarnate Mary, an incarnate Ed, an incarnate Nancy, an incarnate ________ (you)?   Isn’t this the real promise and hope that Jesus brings to us?  That we can live our human lives, that are full of anxiety, pain and disappointments, incarnated with the Spirit of God?  And that changes everything!  I once heard a TV evangelist declare - turn your scars into stars.   I think being incarnated with God does indeed turn our scars to stars that shine as a Light for someone else.   This season gives us a time to pause and reflect on ‘how am I letting my Star shine in this world?’  May others see the incarnation in our lives today.


Considering the Query: ‘When you are preoccupied and distracted in meeting let wayward and disturbing thoughts give way quietly to your awareness of God’s presence among us and in the world. Receive the vocal ministry of others in a tender and creative spirit. Reach for the meaning deep within it, recognizing that even if it is not God’s word for you, it may be so for others. Remember that we all share responsibility for the meeting for worship whether our ministry is in silence or through the spoken word.’ From: Advices and queries; Britain Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice, 5th edition, @ 1995-2015 Quaker Faith and Practice

Joys & Concerns

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.  

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 tomorrow, December 3rd.

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!

Please continue to hold Viola Bangle, Norma Wallman’s mother, in your prayers for God’s care and healing, rest and refreshment, and remember Norma, as well. 

Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities

This Sunday, December 6th! Vespers Annual Holiday Concert!
5:00 pm with a Light Buffet to Follow
Christmas Carols and Anthems, Handbells, Soloists,
Children’s Choir, Flutes, Violas, Harps
Scripture Readings, and Waiting Worship

Bring your family and friends to this lovely service, 
and be sure to remain afterward for the delightful buffet!  
This is a complimentary gift, hosted by our 
Fellowship Committee.

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.

United Christmas Service Project- First Friends is partnering with the United Christmas Service to sponsor a family this Christmas.  The Rice family has been assigned to First Friends and has 10 members, 4 children and 6 adults.  Names of the family members and suggested gifts are noted on tags on the “Christmas Palm Tree” in the foyer of First Friends meetinghouse.  Please take a tag or two, purchase and wrap the gift(s), write the name of the family member on the gift(s), and bring the gift(s) to First Friends by Dec-13.  We plan to deliver the gifts to the family on Dec. 20 after Meeting for Worship.  All are invited to participate in delivering the gifts.  Thanks to all for helping to brighten the Christmas for the Rice family. 

Our babysitting sitting co-op will take place on Saturday December 12th from 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.  Kathy Rhyne and Cindy Kitchel will host this gathering and plan some fun crafts and games.  Dinner will be provided for the kids.  We welcome anyone to bring their kids for a night of free babysitting.  The co-op takes place once a quarter and parents rotate hosting.  It is a great way to get to know other families and their kids and enjoy an evening out.  Please contact Beth Henricks, or the office,  if you would like your children to attend.

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 ( 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. 

Sunday, December 20th – Our Annual Children’s Christmas Pageant
Presented in Meeting for Worship @ 10:15
A unique, incredible look at the Christmas Story, we know and love so well.
Invite your friends, family, grandparents, and neighbors.
It promises to be a blessed time of worship together.

Everyone is welcome to join us on Thursday Evening at 5:30
December 24th for our Christmas Eve Servic

A simple, lovely expression of welcoming the Christ Child
Carols, Waiting Worship, Children’s Choir, Flute Solo,
The Christmas Story
Family and Friends are All Welcome to Come!

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

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 
If you are able to help with this, please provide the following information to the office and copy Carolyn Tinsley at
·         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” ~ Bug About:  On a patch of grass or soft ground, lie on your stomach and look at the ground. Be very quiet as you watch and see how many bugs are working hard on and beneath the ground. Count how many different kinds you can see. What are they all doing? From: ‘52 Nature Activities’ by Lynn Gordon