As Way Opens
This week’s posting is from Leslie Kartholl’s blog that she wrote in September. It seems appropriate to reflect on her words as we head into the Christmas week.
At the same time Irma was bearing down on Florida, my daughter-in-law was in the hospital birthing our first grandchild. The family spent hours in the waiting room, pacing the floors, anxious for news, praying fervently for mother and child, trying not to stress out as the hours passed. When little Nora arrived, (my son texted "I'm sobbing, she's beautiful") palpable relief fell over the waiting room and the mood became anticipatory and excited. When we were finally able to see her, hold her, it was an incredible experience; the joy was encompassing and overwhelming.
The arrival of a much anticipated newborn is like a peek into the heart of God; for a few moments you feel that you "get it" - you understand life and love and everything makes glorious and beautiful sense. You feel like you are seeing things as they should be; it’s a glimpse into the kingdom, it’s the feeling that there is only goodness in the world.
Then the baby in question has a seizure. And then another one. And you remember that there are hurricanes; there are Irmas and Joses and Katias; there are earthquakes in Mexico and shootings in schools; that this is a world that is racked by wars and political unrest and senseless violence and you remember that the future is uncertain and scary. You lose that sense of "rightness" and everything just looks bleak. You worry, you fret, and you are back on your knees.
Despite the baby's issues, she is undeniably beautiful in her tiny little nearly nine pound self. Everything she does is amazing; every grimace, or blink, or smile transports you back to the eye of the hurricane. Outside the storm may be raging, but with Nora in arms, it is extraordinarily peaceful; the breezes are gentle, and you can see the stars. No matter what is going on "out there" for a few minutes everything seems to be exactly as it should be.
It's important to remember, especially when life is chaotically whirling about, blowing off our roofs and stripping our trees that the "eye" is also there; at the center of our existence, we can find that place of "peace that passes understanding" and comprehensive "rightness." We get there by prayer, by meditation, by being present in our lives, by self-sacrifice. We get there by relinquishing the control we imagine we have over anyone or anything but ourselves. We get there by opening ourselves up, by emptying ourselves out, and allowing God to fill that space with hope. We get there by practicing love, by holding tiny Nora while Irma rages.
Joys & Concerns
Thank you to everyone who purchased cookies or soup in a jar, coffee or chocolate this past Sunday. Together we raised $341 for Right Sharing of World Resources!
Our Youth Group had a fun Christmas Party last Friday! We played cards, pool, guessing games, ate some good food and enjoyed each other’s company. Thank you everyone for coming!
What a Beautiful Children’s Pageant ~ See below for some images of our Christmas Pageant “The Very First Christmas” from this past Sunday. We are so proud of our children for giving the message that morning! Also thanks to all those who directed our children - Beth H and Tiffany B.
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Festival of Carols is telecast nationally this year! Bill P and Dan R sing in this group. You may watch or record it locally on WFYI Thursday, December 21, 8pm; or Saturday, December 24 at 2 pm or 8 pm (WFYI13). For other broadcasts check indychoir.org!
CANCELLING THRESHING AT THE TAP IN DECEMBER! Men of First Friends, due to Christmas being days away, many of you have already informed me that you are very busy and will not be able to attend our Threshing planned for this Thursday night. Thus, we are going to cancel this month's Threshing at the Tap.
We will return on January 18th at Black Acre Brewing in Irvington for a wonderful gathering and great conversation! See you in January! Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Also, Ladies of First Friends, be watching for information about a similar event for you coming by the the end of January!
This Coming Sunday is Christmas Eve! In the morning we will be holding unprogrammed worship in the Parlor at 10:15am. Please note that there will be no Sunday School. All are invited to join us for our annual Christmas Eve service at 5:30 – see details below.
Christmas Eve Service ~ You are not going to want to miss this year’s Christmas Eve Service at 5:30pm. Throughout the holidays we have worked to give you several unique worship experiences at First Friends - and this Christmas Eve will be no exception. Our music director, Eric B has put together a jazz ensemble to accompany this special candlelight service. Our theme, The Light Has Come, will have us looking at five thoughts on the subject of light. As well, we will provide opportunities throughout the service for silent reflection in the manner of Friends. There will be a special reading of the Christmas Story for the children, and the service will conclude with a traditional singing of Silent Night in candlelight. Our hope is that the ambiance and beauty of this service will usher you into your Christmas celebrations. Childcare will also be provided. We hope you will join us.
Please note there will be no Meditational worship on Monday, December 25 in observance of Christmas. There will also be no worship the following Monday, January 1st. Happy Holidays!
Vespers DVDs ~ Did you enjoy our Vespers service this year? Or maybe you missed it and would like to see it? DVDs of this year's Vespers service are now available. Please contact the office if interested. They are $1 each. Also thank you to Norma W who provided the camera and did the filming.
Warm Clothes for a Cold Winter ~ We are again collecting used outdoor winter clothing. Coats, gloves, mittens, hats. For children and adults. Here is an opportunity to give without spending more money! In Fellowship Hall look for the box for J. H. Boner Center.
We are in need of volunteers next month for the Mid North Food Pantry! ~ Due to the holidays, several of the “regulars” will not be able to volunteer at the food pantry on Wednesdays, January 3 and January 17. These are all days that First Friends regularly staffs the pantry. If you are in town and available during any of these dates, please consider volunteering. Let the office know if you are interested or have questions. Thank you for your assistance!
The Quaker Welcome Center has opened! The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is proud to announce the opening of the Quaker Welcome Center in Washington, DC. An article was published in The Washington Post on Sunday, November 26 (print and digital editions) about the center and one of the first events held there. FCNL hopes to host bipartisan discussions between members of Congress as well as the general public. To read the article in full, please visit https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/new-space-in-dc-intends-to-play-host-to-bipartisan-dialogue/2017/11/25/8501db0c-cb0a-11e7-8321-481fd63f174d_story.html?utm_term=.076d34ee29f7