As Way Opens
I spent the last two weeks in Richmond IN attending an intensive class at the Earlham School of Religion. The course called Spiritual Formation and Personal Practices challenged us to examine our spiritual practices and the activities that we are engaging in to make us the person we want to become. We met at Evans House for class and all stayed at Woodard Lodge. The first day of class we had to share our spiritual autobiography and in the first 2 hours we opened ourselves up to each other in authentic and vulnerable ways. It was pretty amazing to have 5 strangers come together in this way.
The two weeks together with our professor Jim Higginbotham was profound for me as I reflected on God’s presence and what am I doing to go deep into my soul to experience God’s grace and love in a new way.
We worshiped together, walked in nature together, prayed together, listened to music together, laughed together, challenged each other to accept God’s love and forgiveness, and read six books on spiritual formation and the dark night of the soul that pushed us into a deep sense of self examination.
This was an amazing two weeks for me. I never would have anticipated the depth of reflection that I would experience with this class. Our group included people with diverse theological backgrounds and varied life experiences. The feedback from individuals that have been rejected throughout their lives as an “other” informed our discussion. It is easy to read the Bible and accept a faith rationale when one is not part of the “other”. But we heard the shame and rejection that our friends felt through their early church experiences. We also examined our families of origin and the impact they have on how we feel God’s love. I was kind of afraid to re-enter my life and held onto to the bubble of our spiritual group for as long as I could. But the point of a class like this is to enter the world to share our spirit and truth and experience God’s loving presence in a deeper way through our joys and our trials.
I am looking at my spiritual practices that will help me become the person I want to become. I started journaling and will continue to do this. I plan to re-engage with a yoga practice, a weekly nature walk, continue to participate in Monday Meditation as often as possible, unplug from electronics for at least an hour a day to engage in reading, reflection and meditation and go on a quarterly spiritual retreat.
What are each of us doing in spiritual practices to deepen our relationship to God and challenge ourselves to enter the darkness. I have been challenged the last two weeks and I challenge all of you to decide what could you do to enter into worship and communion daily with God. What practices might help you examine your Light and your Darkness. How can you engage and listen to God in a different way?
Joys & Concerns
Beth would like to send her thanks to everyone after the wonderful celebration for her recording this past Sunday. She said she feels so loved and supported and she really appreciates everyone’s efforts in recognizing her!
A big thank you to 25 adults and young people from First Friends that joined together to serve lots of ice cream and cheese sandwiches at the Dairy Bar at the Indiana State Fair this past Saturday. The rain made the pace a bit slower this year but we still served lots of ice cream and grilled cheese. With the generous contribution of everyone’s time that day, the Dairy Association will write First Friends a check for $1400. We will use this towards our youth and children’s programming this year.
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
IFCL Film showing! IFCL Presents the documentary film “Quakers – That of God in Everyone”. This 90-minute documentary will introduce you to untold stories of Friends from the American Heartland who profoundly influenced the course of American history, simply by seeing that of God in everyone. The IFCL will be showing the film this Friday, August 19 at 7:00pm in the parlor. Quaker scholar and author Paul Buckley, who provides commentary throughout the film, will lead us in discussion at the conclusion. For more information, contact the office.
We are looking for Sunday School teachers for our children’s class starting Sunday September 11th. It will be from 9:00 - 10:00 and we have a curriculum provided for volunteers. If interested, please contact the office. Your help is appreciated!
Underneath It All – First Friends eighth annual underwear drive begins now and ends August 31st! We are asking for donations of new underwear, as well as socks, t-shirts, bras, etc, from toddler to adult sizes! This is a program sponsored by the John H. Boner Community Center (2236 East 10th Street) which serves some of the poorest neighborhoods in Indianapolis. Social Workers will distribute the underwear to families as needed. Please place donations in the labeled box in Fellowship Hall. Cash or checks are also accepted and may be made out to First Friends and placed in offertory plates if labeled as donations to the Underwear Drive. Contact the office if you have questions.
Streams of Living Water – Celebrating the Traditions of Christian Faith - Just as the Mississippi River watershed flows over a great expanse of territory, so does the expanse of Christian faith flow through time. Friend Richard Foster brings us the story of this rich and meaningful journey, and we will study about it this Fall, through a sermon series and study group sessions throughout September and October. If you are interested in attending a study group, we welcome you, beginning the first week of September. If you would be willing to lead a study group, with all materials supplied, please let Ruthie know. Times and dates will be determined by the leaders/attenders.
Streams of Faith
The Prayer-Filled Life – Contemplative Tradition
The Virtuous Life – Holiness Tradition
The Spirit-Empowered Life – Charismatic Tradition
The Compassionate Life – Social Justice Tradition
The Word-Centered Life – Evangelical Tradition
The Sacramental Life - Incarnational Tradition
Tippin Travelogue ~ Sunday, August 28th during Fellowship Hour: Jon will be sharing stories and pictures from the Tippins’ recent trip to England, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and Barra. Of particular interest are pictures from ‘1652 Country’ – the area of England where Quakerism began. Grab a cup of ‘joe’, and visit Jon… in the Parlor!
MSPC and First Friends Meeting… did you know? First Friends Meeting is growing, thanks to families from MSPC who have joined us for worship. And MSPC is growing, thanks to families from First Friends who have discovered MSPC! How wonderful!!! It’s so much fun – especially for our staff!
MSPC has some openings! Meridian Street Preschool now has two available spots for children in the Tuesday/Thursday 3/4 class for the 2016-2017 school year. Interested families can contact the office.
Oak Leaf Ladies: We will be meeting at Pat's home to discuss “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout on Tuesday, August 30th at 6:30 pm. Please feel free to bring a friend. Pat will be serving a lovely dessert for all to enjoy during the discussion. If you plan to attend or are interested in being on the mailing list for the Oak Leaf: Meeting for Reading please 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 make our water supply last?
Tip #1: We can turn off faucets so they don’t drip.
Tip #2: We can take shorter showers – and baths with less water – and still get very clean.
Tip #3. We can save water when we brush our teeth – by turning it off until we need to rinse.
From 16 Things Kids can do to Help Care for the Earth, by Dana Kester-McCabe, 2006.