As Way Opens
I spent the last two weeks at Earlham School of Religion (as I very slowly pursue a masters in divinity) in an intensive class on prayer. Michael Birkel, a well-known Quaker scholar taught the class and we read and studied and practiced a diverse and enriching experience of prayer. We read Cynthia Bourgeault on Centering Prayer, Thich Nhat Hanh on The Energy of Prayer, we studied the theology of prayer and reflected on the idea if God needs our prayers to take action, we studied Evagrius Ponticus, the father of contemplative prayer and St Teresa of Avila and her classic book on prayer called Interior Castles. Every day we spent several hours in prayer and talked about the difference between cataphaphatic prayer (a prayer engaging all of our senses) and apophatic prayer that involves emptying and surrounding ourselves to God.
I came away from these two weeks with a profound appreciation for how prayer changes me. As Quakers, we often resist ritual and symbols, but I came to love some of the ritual associated with ancient prayer. I created a personal prayer book, studied visual icons that are as holy as scripture in some faith traditions and spent time reading scripture through a lectio divina process. I experienced God in a different way every day and I was changed by this time in prayer. I realized that God speaks to me in many ways and I need to open myself to the diversity and expanse of God’s voice. I don’t know how my prayer works with God, but I believe that I am changed by prayer and many in prayer can have an impact on our world.
I began to understand why the desert Christian mothers and fathers in the third and fourth century lived in a cloistered community. They were devoted to the practice of prayer because of their desire to draw closer to God’s presence and live in devotion to God’s calling. I need to spend more time in prayer every day. A short prayer before a meal or a quick prayer before I fall asleep does not bring me into relationship with God that I desire. My prayers can occur while I do a yoga practice, listen to music, do chores, write in my journal etc. God is present in the ordinary and everyday life and my prayers should reflect that reality.
I hope that all of you will consider how your prayer practice changes you. I encourage you to embrace a variety of prayer methods and spend more time in prayer every day. May you be open to experience God’s presence in a variety of ways through prayer and then respond to what God is calling you to do.
Joys & Concerns
Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday ~ To close our meeting this past Sunday we joined arm and arm around the meetinghouse - standing in solidarity with “The Dream” before singing together the spiritual “Guide My Feet” in honor of Martin Luther King Sunday. May we go out and live that dream in our world!
Congratulations to Nichole M who recently received the Indiana German High School Teacher of the Year award. Nichole is a German teacher at Hamilton Southeastern High School. She was recognized specifically for work on the Giving Voices to Ghosts project among other work. Great work, Nichole!
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
Coats, Scarves, Hats, Gloves, Mittens ~ Please donate your unwanted warm clothing to meeting for Boner Center to give to those who need them. There is a box on the stage.
Threshing at the Tap: (def.) a gathering of men who mull over current issues or topics, where all points of view are heard, no decisions are made, and beverages are enjoyed.
Threshing at the Tap will take place every third Thursday, 7pm at various breweries in greater Indianapolis. This month it will be tomorrow, January 18 at 7pm at Black Acre Brewing, 5632 E Washington St, Irvington.
Also, Ladies of First Friends, be watching for information about a similar event for you coming by the end of January!
Youth Ice Skating~ Our youth group will go ice skating this Friday evening, January 19th from 7:30 - 9:30 at the Pop Weaver Youth Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Our youth fund will provide for the skate rental and fees. Kids only need to bring money for food if they want. Beth and Ben can leave from the Meeting at 7:00 for anyone that wants to ride with them. Please let Beth know if your young person will attend. We should all meet at the entrance at 7:30.
Monthly Yoga (not to be confused with weekly Gentle Yoga on Fridays) will be on Sunday January 28th at 11:30 in the basement as well as Sunday February 4th - both practices will be led by Kristyn G. Several varieties of yoga practice will be explored, such as yin yoga, vinyasa yoga, and restorative yoga. The class is open to all levels and members of the class will help determine the content of the practice.
Making Connections at First Friends! Are you new to First Friends Meeting? We will be hosting some meals for new attendees and visitors who are looking for some more deepened connection with First Friends. This will be a chance to have some fellowship time in a more intimate setting than what we get after meeting for worship each Sunday. The first one will be on Wednesday, January 31st from 6:00pm – 7:30pm at the home of Mary & David B. If you’d like to come please RSVP to the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-255-2485. If you’re unable to attend, look for our next meeting within the next few months! This event is hosted by Connections (formerly Membership Growth & Participation).
Rise Up Singing ~ The Sing Along will happen (weather permitting) on Thursday, February 1. Jim K will lead. We will use Rise Up Singing and Rise Again. We always have a good time. It is important to email or phone Linda L if you plan on coming. She and Ed are hosting it at their home. If the group grows too large, we will relocate to our parlor at First Friends.
Family Bowling ~ Please join us for a bowling party hosted by the Christian Education Committee. It will be Sunday, February 11th at noon at Woodland Bowl, 3421 E 96th St. First Friends will provide 2 games, shoe rental, pizza and drinks for everyone. Please RSVP with the office at email@example.com.
Polarized! Jeff Rasley’s most recent book, Polarized! The Case for Civility in the Time of Trump is now available as an audio book. The Case for Civility exposes the causes and effects of hyper-partisanship. It offers a "modest proposal" to treat the symptoms of toxic polarization using social media. An experiment in Facebook based on the values of civility, tolerance, pragmatism, and moderation proves there is a cure. The audiobook is available on Amazon at
Oak Leaf Book Group 2018 ~ Be sure to mark your calendars for 2018 Oak Leaf Meeting for Reading dates:
January 30 ~ Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
February 27 ~ The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
March 27 ~ Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
April 24 ~ A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter
May 29 ~ Truevine by Beth Macy
June 26 ~ In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
July 31 ~ Testimony by Scott Turow
August 28 ~ American Heart by Laura Moriarty
September 25 ~ Sourdough by Robin Sloan
October 30 ~ The Hour of Land by Terry Tempest Williams
November 27 ~ The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The group meets at 7pm in the Parlor. All are invited!