As Way Opens
Just a few days ago, I brought our Nativity Set down from the attic. I so love this set… it’s the one we’ve had since the boys were small. The centerpiece is the Christ Child – already snuggled into a manger of hay. But unpacking the styrofoam box, I found three Wise Men, a shepherd with a lamb across his shoulders, another lamb, Joseph, Mary, a donkey, and….
What a collection! Such an odd gathering, brought together around the Word, the Light. Common shepherds, and kings. One person with royal ancestry. Aged men, and a newborn. One young woman. Costly camels – meant for travel, and simple sheep and donkeys, meant for food and burden bearing. Some were already a part of the scene – others entered into it, as travelers journeying through.
The nativity set has made me think about our meeting. We are a gathering too, brought together around the Word, the Light. We have been ‘unpacked’ from the places we’ve been, and come into the scene – our Meeting - drawn together with purpose. We are seekers who come, not just to see the Christ, but to experience all that God has to teach us, through this Gift. And, just like the shepherds, wise men, and the Holy Family, we are a gift to each other. We bring our own seeking stories. Our own wonderment, our own struggles, our own joy in discovery as we learn more about God, born in us.
Imagine the Meetinghouse as the stable… imagine us gathered around the Light… this is what we do each week when we gather in Meeting for Worship. How grateful we can be for the sense of gathered community – whether we’re shepherds or kings, camels or donkeys, newborn or aged! Each one of us is unique. Each one brings their own heritage, their own characteristics, their own experiences, their own understanding of faith in God – and we’re all the richer for it.
What a beautiful, intentional gift God gave us in that natal scene… Christ was not surrounded with kings. Christ was not surrounded with angels. Christ was not surrounded with shepherds. Christ was surrounded with kings and shepherds and angels. They were all there! And so are we, in our incredible Meeting. We are a rich gathering of varied characters, who bring heart and life to the work and witness of our Meeting. And what holds us together? The Word, the Light, The Spirit of Christ.
Joys & Concerns
Barbara O. has been named the Peace Learning Center's Volunteer of the Year! The PLC is an organization that educates, inspires and empowers people to live peacefully. Kristina Hulvershorn, Director of Youth Programs has worked closely with Barbara and said, "Barbara is an incredible volunteer for so many reasons. Her persistence, patience, and wisdom have allowed us to build new and meaningful programs and partnerships where there were none before… She is always there when we need her (whether it is to help us by bringing soup to feed a group in training, to help mobilize a large volunteer group, to learn about another training, or to help kids in need). Barbara is such a selfless and wonderful person." Congratulations, Barbara! See the full article here: http://peacelearningcenter.org/volunteer-of-the-year-barbara-oberreich/
Vespers was very special this year… as it always is. But this year, we celebrated a ‘Festival of Lessons and Carols’, sharing the story of Christ’s advent and birth in nine ‘lessons’ given in scripture and song. Harp, flute, handbells, narrators, children and adult choirs all joined together with the congregation. What a joy! We are so thankful for Shawn P., our Organist and Choir Director, and to all those who shared their gifts in ministry. Special thanks go to those who took extra time to prepare the Meeting Room so beautifully.
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
Please note, the Finance Committee Meeting scheduled for December 8 has been cancelled.
Please also note – we’ve been informed that VOCE’s Madrigal Dinner scheduled for 12/10/16 is regretfully cancelled due to lack of ticket sales.
Christmas Caroling ~ Everyone is invited to join us for caroling at 4:20 pm Sunday, December 11 in the Washington Manor lobby at American Village (2026 E 54th St). We will sing in the dining room at 4:30 and will proceed to three other places. After singing, we will eat at Steak and Shake at 86th and Westfield Blvd. Contact the office if you have questions.
United Christmas Service Project ~ You are cordially invited to help brighten Christmas for a family in need. You can help by taking a tag or two from the Christmas tree in the front foyer of the meetinghouse, purchasing and wrapping the gift listed on the tag, noting the person to whom the gift is to be given on the wrapping (very important), and placing the gift under the tree. We encourage folks to place the gifts under the tree by December 11 so that we can more easily take an inventory of gifts that have been purchased. The absolute last date for delivery is December 18 as we intend to deliver the gifts after Monthly Meeting on December 18. All are welcome to help in the delivery. This is a great opportunity for everyone (particularly kids) to participate in the true meaning of Christmas by purchasing and delivering gifts to someone who will really need and appreciate the gifts. Thanks for everyone’s help with this meaningful project.
Christmas Candlelight Service in Noblesville ~ Noblesville First Friends Church cordially invites you to hear the message of the angels and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Sunday, December 11 at 6:30pm. Refreshments will be served following the program. They are located at 1055 East Division Street in Noblesville. If you have questions, you may call them at 317-773-3686.
WYM Fundraising Challenge ~ The Western Yearly Meeting Pastoral Ministry Excellence Sustainability Task Group announces that an anonymous donor has offered a $5,000 challenge. If $12,985 are given and/or pledged toward the $100,000 PME Fundraising Goal by Christmas Day 2016, the donor will give $5,000 to complete the goal. WYM is asking for your help to rise to this generous challenge and reach the goal! Pledge cards and more materials on the PME can be found on the table in the Meeting hallway, or ask the office if you’d like information sent to you. You can also visit https://www.westernyearlymeeting.org/pme/ for more information.
Legislative Priorities for FCNL - 350 Quakers from around the country met in Washington DC for the annual meeting of Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)on November 10th - 13th. Several from First Friends attended and the legislative priorities for FCNL over the next 2 years were approved (see them here: https://goo.gl/Zukhzo). We also lobbied our Senators and Representatives on supporting passage of Criminal Justice reform for non-violent offenders in the lame duck session. If you are interested, call your Senators and ask them to support Senate Bill S2123 and your Representative to support bills in the house HR 3713 and HR 759. More information about this legislation is on the FCNL website:
Christmas Celebrations at First Friends Meeting
Choirs, Cookies, and Carols!
December 11th, 2016
‘Royal Sensation Choir’ in Meeting
Christmas Tea just following Worship
Christmas Caroling at 4:20
at American Village – Washington Manor Lobby
Children’s Christmas Pageant
December 18th, 2016 in Meeting
Christmas Eve Service
‘Finding the Christ Child’
December 24th, 2016 at 5:30 pm
Christmas Morning Worship
Brunch, Caroling, and Waiting Worship at 10:15