As Way Opens

I spent the last two weeks in Richmond IN attending an intensive class (one semester condensed into two weeks) at Earlham School of Religion (ESR) working towards my Masters in Divinity.  The class I took was on studying the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammed and the Islamic faith taught by Michael Birkel, ESR professor and writer of a great book called Qur’an in Conversation.   The Muslim faith has been prevalent in our news cycles as terrorist radicals use the religion to do horrific acts.  I wanted to move beyond the rhetoric and understand this religion that more than one billion people practice in the world.  It was quite eye opening and I was surprised by how little I knew about Muhammed and the Qur’an before I started the class.  

Some of the important aspects of the Muslim faith is a belief in the one God, the God of the Old and New Testament who is full of compassion and mercy.  Every chapter in the Qur’an starts with the words…In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.  This is a faith that requires a person’s deeds and actions reflect God’s attributes and names (there are 99 names for God).  This is a faith that honors and learns from the great prophets of the Bible; Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Mary, Jesus….. This is a faith that embraces all of humanity.  This is a faith that encourages spiritual practices (daily prayers, fasting, pilgrimage) that bring each person into a daily remembrance of God. 

While there are significant differences in the Muslim faith versus Christianity (primarily the divinity of Christ and the concept of salvation) there are many areas of commonality and the Prophet Muhammed sought for respect and tolerance for the “People of the Book” (the term he used to identify Christians and Jews).  There are troubling passages in the Qur’an just as there are troubling passages in the Old and New Testament.  The reality is that all of our sacred texts were written by men and greatly influenced by the culture and context of ancient times.   When verses are pulled out of context, people can and do use them to subvert the overall message being conveyed in the writings.  A message of hope and love in the reality of the one true God.  

We have had a wonderful opportunity in the last 3 years to get to know our dear friends Daud and Lillian A.  Daud showed up one day because he knew the history of Quakers in terms of equality and he just continued to show up Sunday after Sunday.  We got to know him as a deeply spiritual man of God, full of wisdom and wit.  He embraced us and we embraced him.  Through Daud we were able to learn more about his faith and connect with his Mosque on 46th and Keystone, Nur Allah Islamic Center.  Daud and Lillian will be moving to Alabama in February and we are joyful for this next stage of life for them but sad for us that we will miss his presence here at First Friends.   We send our best wishes to Daud and Lillian and know that we have been changed by knowing them.  Thank you Daud and Lillian.    


Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities

Ecumenical Service tonight! King of Glory Lutheran Church in Carmel is offering an ecumenical worship service to pray for Christian unity tonight, Wednesday January 18 at 7 pm. The church is located at 2201 E. 106th St (at Keystone Pkwy) Carmel, IN 46032. For questions, contact the church at (317) 846-1555.

The Music Committee would like to collect input from the Meeting regarding music at First Friends. With Shawn stepping down as Choir Director, we will use this information to assist us in developing a job description and to evaluate our music program. We invite everyone age 12 and older to complete a survey and return in the offering plate or to the office. The surveys will be inserts in the bulletin on Jan 22nd & 29th (please complete only once). Thank you,                                                            The Music Committee

The Pastoral Search Committee invites you to contemplate and provide feedback on the following query this week: In your opinion, how can our new pastor best minister to our children and youth to foster their relationship with God and our Meeting?  Please provide your thoughts on the query (or any other feedback on the search process) to Brenda R, who will be looking forward to hearing from you just outside the Meeting Room after Meeting for Worship this Sunday, Jan 22!

Babysitting Co-Op ~ Our babysitting co-op is happening on Saturday January 28th from 5:30 - 9:30, hosted by Michael and Katie H. Dinner will be provided for the kids. Please contact Beth if you would like to have your kids join in the fun that evening!

Calling all young children ages 2 (by Sept 1st 2017) thru 5. MSPC will be holding enrollment for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year for First Friends members and attenders beginning January 23rd-January 27th. Interested families can email the office for a registration packet. Completed forms may be placed into the MSPC mail folder at FF, or mailed to FF. MSPC looks forward to including the FF meeting next year and beyond.

Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation (IFCL) has been busy this year bringing a Quaker presence to the Indiana General Assembly.  How are Quakers expressing Friend’s testimonies today?  IFCL members have been attending most of the summer study committees learning about the issues, listening at hearings and meeting with many of our elected representatives.  Mary B. has written a short article about some of the things she’s learned about IFCL and FCNL. Read the article here:

Hey Guys!  Oak Leaf: Meeting for Reading is expanding the book group to everyone (both men and women) interested. Come discuss the Pulitzer Prize Winning novel: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, which will be led by Kristyn Greenwald on Tuesday, January 31st at 7 pm in the Parlor.  If you’d like to have your name added to the email list, please contact the office. Looking forward to February 28th’s discussion, Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.  

Scout Sunday February 12th ~ Current and former Scouts, please submit your information to the office so we can recognize you on February 12th. Please send your name, Scouting Organization, Troop number and Scout rank. Email or call 317-255-2485.