As Way Opens
Unconditional Love - this is a term that is frequently used to describe our most sacred and intimate relationships and a standard of love that might be our ideal. But what does this term really mean? I was recently accused from a family member that I was not showing unconditional love. I think this charge was leveled because I was not giving the person what they wanted and they could not see beyond their own situation and only wanted help to solve an immediate problem. I am figuring they thought a charge of not showing unconditional love would sting enough to change my mind.
I started thinking about what this concept means and do we find it in the Bible and does this ideal describe God’s love? The words unconditional love are not found anywhere in the Bible and Google tells me it is a concept shaped as our society has developed methods of psychology, sociology and ways to describe different types of love. The definition often includes love without limitations or conditions. I like this one definition I found that describes unconditional love as a state of mind in which one has the goal of increasing the welfare of another, despite any evidence of benefit for oneself. Unconditional love as a state of mind and selfless! While the Bible never uses this term, I embrace the idea that God loves us without limits or conditions. God loves us in our brokenness, our failures and our darkness. This love encompasses us yet doesn’t stop us from making bad choices, feeling resentment, being falsely accused, experiencing loss and pain, and living with consequences. God’s unconditional love doesn’t make our life easy and pain free. But this love changes how we view ourselves and how we can view all others. Jesus challenged us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, to love our enemies, to love as God has loved us. I think what Jesus really challenged us to do was love without any evidence that we will receive any benefit from our expression of love.
We all have relationships with family, friends and colleagues that are disappointing, challenging, full of despair, unjust and painful. Can we offer unconditional love to those that bring us to our knees? It is the challenge of our life and Jesus example of living into this kind of love is what the Christian experience is all about. When we finally understand that we cannot change anyone’s behavior, decisions and attitudes and only can change ourselves do we finally understand this idea of unconditional love. It is not about the other person - it is about us!
Joys & Concerns
Ruthie has been spending time with Friends – from FGC! Jon and Ruthie traveled to St. Joseph, MN to participate in the Friends General Conference Gathering there. Ruthie presented at a workshop for Friends Committee on National Legislation entitled “Faith Powering Up the Activist Within”. Deep sharing, large and small group activities, journaling, song, and silent worship were a part of the morning spent together. Ruthie will move on to Cedar Rapids, IA where she will be leading the Study Sessions for the United Society of Friends Women International Gathering this Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Please keep Ruthie in your prayers as she seeks to follow God’s leading.
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
Western Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions are coming up next week July 14-17 in Plainfield! Join us at Yearly Meeting on Sunday, July 17th for a great morning together! At 9:30 - Concert of Gifts and Talents led by Ruthie Tippin; Jim and Leslie Kartholl and Jon Tippin performing. At 10:30 - Meeting for Worship with Scott Wagoner speaking; Recording Recognition of Beth Henricks and Katherine Murray. We will be gathering for a time of fellowship and communion together...So that Faith, Truth, and Love Might Flourish!
Hindu Temple Visit—Friends will be visiting the Hindu Temple (www.htci.org) at 3350 N. German Church Rd this Sunday July 10th. We will meet at the Temple at 9:15 and get a tour and will join their service at 10:00. Maltie who is a member of the Temple will join us there. If you would like to caravan from the Meeting, please be in the parking lot at 8:45 a.m. Let Beth know if you want to attend—email@example.com. Hindu Temple has also shared with us a wonderful link with more information about their temple and Hinduism! Feel free to read it here! https://www.htci.org/images/VisitorsGuide2012.pdf
Calling all ice cream lovers! First Friends will be working at the Dairy Bar at the Indiana State Fair on Saturday August 13th all day. This is a major fundraiser for our youth programming. We plan to have two 6 hour shifts, 9:30am-3:30pm, and 3:30-9:30pm. It is fast paced but lots of fun! Please let Beth (firstname.lastname@example.org) know if you’re interested in volunteering!
Quaker Kids Book Club! Join the club – check out a book! The Children’s Library has been moved to a great new spot, and we have LOTS of wonderful books for kids to read. Be sure to watch for the red Quaker “Q”, showing books about Quakers! They’re great. If you sign out a book, you’ve joined the club! Here’s a bit about one of our new books: Maria’s Comet, by Deborah Hopkinson. “Loosely based on the childhood of Quaker Maria (pronounced ma-RYE-ah) Mitchell, America’s first woman astronomer, here is an exquisitely told story of a girl who yearns for adventure beyond her limited circumstances, and sets out to follow her heart.” Check it out!
Vacation Bible School is only a few weeks away! It will begin on Sunday, July 24 from 12:00-2:00pm and will continue Mon.-Thurs. from 6:30pm-8:30pm. Lunch will be provided for all who attend on the 24th. We welcome all our kids, grandkids and friends of our kids to participate in this fun and special time of learning that Jesus is the Light of the World. We’re registering now! To sign up your kids, there are registration forms in the hallway! Contact Beth with any questions at email@example.com.
IFCL Open Position - The Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation (IFCL) is accepting resumes for the position of lobbyist for the 2017 calendar year. This is a compensated position. Please contact IFCL clerk, Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the work of IFCL visit www.quakerifcl.org
Vegetable Garden - We are in need of a galvanized garbage can to help our vegetable garden! This garbage canister may be large or small but it will need to have a tight lid. It will be used to sanitize tools and will need to keep fumes inside. Our community garden also has flowers if anyone is interested in helping with those. If you’d like to help out, please contact Nancy the office.
FUM Summer Mission Project: Power to Pastors - This year’s FUM Summer Mission Project is to support Friends Theological College (“FTC”) located in a rural area in western Kenya. One of the challenges FTC has is frequent power blackouts. This inhibits the ability of students to check out library materials, access items at the library, do research, and use the computers. FTC plans to install 32 solar panels (costing $1,500 each) to help alleviate this power shortage problem. Friends United Meeting (a global organization of which First Friends is a part) has set a goal of $20,000 to help FTC acquire the needed solar panels. Please help as you are able. Witness & Service will match all contributions from folks at First Friends (up to an aggregate match of $1,500.00) which are given for this project. Checks may be written to “First Friends” with a notation of “FUM-Power to Pastors”. Your support is appreciated.
Take me out to the BALL GAME! Join First Friends on Sunday, August 7th at 1:30 PM to see the Indianapolis Indians! This is a time of fun for anyone to join in from First Friends and ticket costs will be free! Contact Beth if you’re interested (email@example.com).
Picture it: A Jewish wedding – “l'chaim, mozeltov!” Buddhists chanting, a turbaned Sikh on a large white stallion, dancers, songs and prayers in different languages........and a large array of Quakers with messages of peace, love and light. These are some of the things you might see and hear at the Festival of Faiths on September 18 at the Veterans War Memorial from 1:00 – 5:00pm.
The idea is to have a large Quaker presence including First Friends Meeting, Plainfield, Fairfield, Valley Mills and others as well as AFSC, FCNL, IFCL and other Quaker organizations.
We are inviting everyone to attend and we are asking people to help with the Quaker area representation. We need a few people to help set up, take down and attend the booth. It is not necessary to be present the whole time. Come anytime that works for you and any time you can give will be appreciated. If you are interested in helping or want more information contact the office.
Leave a green footprint! ~ The Earth is an amazing and beautiful place. All its riches will last, so long as we learn to use only what we need.
How can we best use the Earth’s gifts?
Tip #2: We can take care of our toys and games and share them when we are done with them.
From 16 Things Kids can do to Help Care for the Earth, by Dana Kester-McCabe, 2006.