As Way Opens

I am taking a New Testament class this semester through the Earlham School of Religion as part of my pursuit of a Masters in Divinity.  We have been studying Paul for the last 5 weeks and a fascinating portrait has been shown of the complicated man who has undoubtedly had the most influence on Christianity beyond Jesus himself.  Early Christianity was viewed as just another sect of Judaism so it was significant that Paul felt called to reach the Gentiles.  He established a number of assemblies and we have 8 letters that scholars absolutely believe he wrote (or they were composite letters).  One of these letters included in the New Testament is Philemon.  I have to say that I have never read Philemon before.  It is a short book of the Bible with only 25 verses (I encourage everyone to pull out their Bible tonight and read this).  Our Day of Remembrance banner has a quote from the 4th verse “When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God….”  What I didn’t know was this verse was part of a reference to his dear friend Philemon who was holding one of these new assemblies in his home and Paul is thanking God because he hears of Philemon’s love for all of the saints.    
The reason for the letter was an emotional appeal to Philemon to release his slave Onesimus who has become a follower of Christ and of great help to Paul while he was imprisoned (Onesimus has likely run away from Philemon’s household).  Paul makes a profound statement regarding slavery by saying in verse 8 “though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love”.   This verse seems to say that freeing the slave was a duty as a follower of Christ but Paul is speaking to Philemon out of love to do the right thing.    
During this time of history slavery was not an ethnic situation.  One could not tell who was a slave because there were no physical or educational differences and slaves were found in all strata of society.   The most common route to slavery was from war, prisoners were often sold into slavery, debtors could become slaves and children of slaves remained slaves throughout their lives.  Paul’s request to release Onesimus is representative of the profound gospel of Jesus and pretty unheard of in that time and place.  As Paul has written, there is neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave or free person within the family of Christ.   The slave is set free and the gospel breaks through cultural boundaries and standard expectations. Are we ready for this kind of gospel in our lives today?       


Considering the Query: Are you able to contemplate your death and the death of those closest to you? Accepting the fact of death, we are freed to live more fully. In bereavement, give yourself time to grieve. When others mourn, let your love embrace them.  From: Advices and queries; Britain Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice, 5th edition, @ 1995-2015 Quaker Faith and Practice  



Joys & Concerns

Spring has been spotted here at First Friends! Crocuses have been sprouting up along the East entrance of our Meeting. It was a happy moment for us here in the office. We hope they can withstand the cold of this week! Thank you, Daniel Rains, for pointing them out to us!

  
Please hold Bill Heitman in your prayers.  He is recovering from unexpected surgery, last Friday.  He has been discharged, and it is our privilege to lift him in prayer for good healing and well-being.  


Dan Mitchell’s mother, Mary Elizabeth “Moose” Mitchell, is in hospital awaiting surgery for a heart valve replacement.  She is 91, and it is hoped that the surgery can be done as soon as possible.  Please keep Mary Elizabeth, Dan, and their family in your prayers.  


80 pounds of food was donated last week to Mid-North Food Pantry. We give lots of praise and thanks to Bill and Kathy Farris and Jim and Carol Donahue for their continued effort and work hours at the food pantry.  Please consider joining them as a volunteer on either the first or third Wednesday morning of each month.  


We have published the Office Administrative position on several job websites. We hope to receive many promising applicants in the coming weeks, and if you know of someone qualified for the job, please let the office know. It is our policy to hire someone from outside the Meeting.    


Last Sunday, February 28, many of our First Friends Families came with us to go bowling at Woodland Bowl. It was quite the turnout with 40 adults and kids who joined in on the fun and games! We had prizes for each age range group, and there was some great competition. Ronald David (III), Paul Lee, and our wonderful Organist, Shawn Porter were all winners in their respective categories!            



Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities  

Today at 6:30pm: Dr. Leah Gunning Francis, author of Ferguson & Faith: Sparking Leadership & Awakening Community, and soon to be Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Christian Theological Seminary (June 2016), will be speaking at St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Meridian Today at 6:30pm.The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, reignited a long-smoldering movement for justice, with many St. Louis-area clergy stepping up to support the emerging young leaders of today’s Civil Rights Movement. Gunning Francis was among the activists, and her interviews with more than two dozen faith leaders and with the new movement’s organizers take us behind the scenes of the continuing protests. Ferguson and Faith demonstrates that being called to lead a faithful life can take us to places we never expected to go, with people who never expected us to join hands with them.  



Lenten Nourishment: Have you seen the weekly blog entry on our First Friends website? It’s an invitation to reflect daily on your relationship with yourself and God. Persons from the Meeting are being interviewed, as well, about spiritual practices that have enriched their lives.  Check it out at:  http://www.indyfriends.org/thoughts-from-friends/  This Friday ~ Walking with Kathy Rhyne at the Monon Community Center in Carmel at 9:30 am This Sunday ~ Evening Meditation Group has been suspended because of Bill Heitman’s recovery  



Day of Remembrance ~ Sunday, March 6th   As we prepare for Easter and the Celebration of Christ’s resurrection, it has become our custom to remember those persons from First Friends family who have passed away in the last year. We trust that they continue to live now in God’s presence, even after death. Circle of Care has created a large banner that will hang in Fellowship Hall, onto which everyone of us is invited to post a photo or two of loved ones who have died. Please add a note of explanation to your photos: sign your name, write who the photo is of, and why you choose this photo? The banner will remain up for several weeks, and this Sunday, March 6th we will gather together in Worship and recall these cherished ones. After worship, please join us for a Fellowship Brunch sponsored by Circle of Care.  


 
Quaker Affirmation Sunday School class - Please join us for this interactive look at our Quaker faith each Sunday in the parlor at 9:00 a.m. Here is our schedule of topics:   
March 6th - We will study other religions and how they might relate to Quakerism

March 13th - Daud will bring some young people from his Muslim faith community to talk about the Muslim faith for our understanding

March 20th - Malte Maraj (Larry and Krishan Coffman’s wife/mother) will share with us about her Hindu faith

March 27th - We will examine Quaker writers, artists and musicians

April 3rd - We will discuss what Quakers are doing in the world today April 10th - We will talk specifically about several Quaker organizations   



Diane Randall, Executive Secretary of Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) will be in Indianapolis this Sunday, March 6th from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. Please join Diane and others at the Indiana Interchurch Center (1100 42nd St) where food will be served, and Diane will share the exciting updates on the Capital Campaign and talk about the future goals and plans of FCNL.  If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to  www.fcnl.org/nowisthetime/rsvp.   


 Meet Thomas Kelly! Tuesday, March 8th at Fairfield Friends in the ‘Quaker Spirituality’ discussion group led by Steve Angell, Professor of Quaker Studies at Earlham School of Religion.  Tuesday evenings at 7:00 PM - Fairfield Friends Meeting March 8, 2016—Thomas Kelly March 15, 2016—Margery Abbott Free of charge but a one-time donation of $10.00 for ESR is suggested. For further information, contact Sarah Lookabill (slookabill@att.net).   



Kelly Kellum, former Clerk of Friends United Meeting, will be hosting a gathering of Friends on Sunday, March 13th from 4:00 to 6:00 pm at First Friends Meeting. Friends from across Indiana will be gathering to discuss the good work of FUM and how we can all better partner together and support our shared work both here in North America and around the globe. Part of the gathering will focus on Energize, Equip and Connect: The FUM Campaign. We are in the midst of a three-year $3,000,000 effort to strengthen FUM’s sustainability and enable us to launch several new initiatives, including many aimed at revitalizing our work and witness in North America.  Please RSVP at info@fum.org.  There will be refreshments and great fellowship for all.  We hope to see you there!   



FUM is looking for a North American candidate to be their new Program Officer for their Africa Ministries Office in Richmond. This is a full time job with Friends United Meeting who will work directly with Eden Grace and other people in the Global Ministries department. If you have any questions, please email Eden Grace at (edeng@fum.org).    



Do you have shoes or others types of footwear that you no longer wear? If so, please drop them in the Changing Footprints container at the Donation Station in Fellowship Hall. All types are needed, including tennis shoes, dress shoes, casual shoes, sandals, flip flops, boots, slippers, and sports cleats. Last year 17,500 pairs of shoes were distributed, with most given to local nonprofit organizations; the remainder were provided to other countries. If we can increase the supply of shoes, we can distribute even more this year. Thanks for your past contributions!   



Eco-Film Coming Up! Friday, March 11 – “Racing Extinction” In “Racing Extinction”, a team of artists and activists exposes the hidden world of extinction with neverbefore-seen images that will change the way we see the planet. Two worlds drive extinction across the globe, potentially resulting in the loss of half of all species. The international wildlife trade creates bogus markets at the expense of creatures that have survived on this planet for millions of years. And the other surrounds us, hiding in plain sight — a world that the oil and gas companies don’t want the rest of us to see. Using covert tactics and state-of-the-art technology, the Racing Extinction team exposes these two worlds in an inspiring affirmation to preserve life as we know it. From the Academy Award® Winning Filmmakers of "The Cove.” Extinction is a race we can’t afford to lose. (90 min., 2015) http://racingextinction.com/the-film/ The Eco-Film Series runs every first Friday of every month, 7p.m. at Cross and Crown Lutheran Church (5933 E. 79th Street). Each film is free of charge, although free-will offerings will be accepted to help defray costs.     



Scout Sunday, will be celebrated Sunday, March 13th. If you are or ever have been a Girl Scout, Boy Scout or a Scout Leader, please email the office (office@indyfriends) with your name, troop number, and scouting role. We will have a fellowship hour sponsored by Christian Education with some popcorn and cookies.   



Western Yearly Meeting is having its annual Spring Retreat at Quaker Haven Camp on April 8th-April 10th. This year’s retreat will be led by Scott Wagoner, who is the founder and director of “Growing Edge Resources”. Scott has been a pastor for over twenty-five years. He is a graduate from Taylor University, and got his Masters of Divinity from Earlham. He will be speaking at Spring Retreat and Western Yearly Meeting sessions.  This year’s retreat is focused on expanding the vision of discipleship. Please contact either the office or WYM PME Director Della StanleyGreen (dellasgwym@gmail.com). The registration deadline is March 15th   



“Friends of Nature Kids” ~ Smells~ While sitting down, close your eyes and see what you can smell. Sometimes when a breeze blows by you can smell even more things. Wander around smelling things. What do trees smell like? What about dirt? Do rocks have a smell? 

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