As Way Opens
I am still soaking in the experience I had during my two-week intensive class on prayer at Earlham School of Religion. One of the activities we had to do was create and present our personal Book of Hours. In a liturgical tradition, the Book of Hours was a devotional book for the common person prevalent during the medieval era. The books were individually created and included texts, psalms, words and decorations or pictures that personally represented an individual’s Christian devotion and meaning. The book back then did follow a typical pattern or organization, but in our project we were free to select images and words that had deep and significant meaning for us in our spiritual walk.
My Jerry loved Edward Hopper paintings! He re-created many Hopper pictures through his photography. The painting above is one of our favorites. Hopper was a master at taking light, shadow, color and angles from our ordinary lives and create something extraordinary and mystical.
I paired this picture with a writing from Richard Rohr from his blogpost in January 2017. For me, it represents the message this picture is saying and the heart of my spirituality.
“One great idea of the biblical revelation is that God is manifest in the ordinary, in the actual, in the daily, in the now, in the concrete incarnations of life. Our experiences of ordinary life will transform us if we are willing to experience them fully. This is quite different than much of religion’s emphasis on being pure, perfect, or correct to find God. Jesus stands religion on its head! In fact, some historians of religion claim that Jesus proclaimed the end of religion. (Of course, we quickly undid this mistake!)
We see this ‘ordinariness’ reflected in the seemingly laborious and boring books of Joshua, Judges, Kings, Chronicles, Leviticus, and Numbers. We hear in these books about sin and war, adultery and affairs, kings and killings, intrigues and deceit, and the ordinary, wonderful, and sad events of human life.
God’s revelations are through the concrete and specific. Spirituality is not a Platonic world of ideas and theories about which you can be right or wrong. Revelation is not something you measure, but something or “Someone” you meet! This pattern of incarnation reaches its fullness in one small place on the planet, in one short period of history, in one very ordinary man named Jesus.
The biblical revelation is saying that we are already spiritual beings; we just don’t know it yet, and we have to be shocked into it. The Bible tries to let us in on the secret, by revealing God in ordinary human affairs and conflicts. That’s why so much of the text seems so mundane, practical, specific, and frankly unspiritual!
We have created an artificial divide or dualism between the spiritual and the so-called non-spiritual. This dualism is precisely what Jesus came to reveal as a lie. The Incarnation proclaims that matter and spirit have never been separate. Jesus came to tell us that these two seemingly different worlds are “and always have been” one. We couldn’t even imagine it until God put all of this together in one body (see Ephesians 2:11-22), one life (1 John 1:1-2), and one shocking epiphany.”
Friends, I encourage you to think about creating your own Book of Hours over the coming days. Images, words, Scripture that represent God’s love and Light in your life and your path to finding your purpose in this world. I would love to see what you might create.
Joys & Concerns
Many thanks to our Food pantry volunteers: 94 families were served with the help of Rik and Linda L, Susan R, Phil K, Jim K, Christie M, Ray G and Bill and Kathy F. Thank you!
Mindy S was recently recognized by Carmel Clay Schools. The School Board recognized the hard work and dedication of staff members as brought to their attention by the Carmel community—and in January Mindy was recognized as one of those exceptional individuals. Congratulations Mindy!
Carolyn Tinsley was recently quoted in the Indianapolis Star in a published story about the girl scouts. If you’d like to read the article, it can be found here: https://www.indystar.com/story/news/2018/01/22/girl-scouts-central-indiana-have-new-leader/1029553001/
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
This Sunday January 28th, we will be selling fairtrade chocolates, coffee, tea, and olive oil to benefit our youth group. A table will be set up in fellowship hall.
Calling All Youth (or Anyone)– Volunteer Opportunity! The First Friends youth will be helping at the Mid-North Food Pantry on Sunday, January 28th from 12-2pm. If you or your youth are interested in helping, please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Oak Leaf: Meeting for Reading: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson book discussion will be held Tuesday, January 30th at 7 pm in the Parlor. Everyone is welcome. Kristyn G will be leading the discussion. If you're interested in reading ahead for next month, the February 27th title is: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
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 and David B. A simple vegetarian soup and bread will be provided. If you’d like to come please RSVP to the office at email@example.com 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 CORRECTION~ The Sing Along will happen (weather permitting) on Friday, February 2nd at 7pm in the Parlor (please note the corrected date and change of location. We will be having two guitarists this time: Dan H (AKA substitute yoga teacher for Beth H) and the generous Jim K who has already led us several times. If you want to suggest three songs so that Jim can prepare ahead of time and copies can be made if needed. We are using Rise Up Singing and Rise Again as our primary selection guides.
Sacred Masterworks ~ The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Presents Sacred Masterworks on Saturday, February 3 at 7pm at the Schrott Center for the Arts. Dan R and Bill P are both part of this group. Making its return to the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir’s season after more than 20 years, Igor Stravinsky’s setting of the Psalms is paired with texts from the Mass, the Bible, poetry by Walt Whitman and music by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The annual Sacred Masterworks concert series includes the Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms and Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem in a one-night-only performance. Tickets are on sale now at indychoir.org!
Scout Sunday February 4th ~ 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 317-255-2485.
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.
Seasoned Friends Wednesday, February 14~ Join us on Valentine’s Day at 11:30am for Seasoned Friends luncheon and fellowship for all who are retired or of retirement age. Lunch will consist of comfort food with a Valentine’s twist. We will meet in the Parlor and enjoy each other’s company with games and movies. Please contact the office if you’ll be able to join us. Hope to see you there!
Community Soup & FCNL Priorities ~ Witness & Service will host the next Community Soup Thursday February 15 from 5:30 pm – 7 pm. Everyone is invited to this very informal dinner. If you’d like, you’re welcome to bring a soup but not necessary. During dinner, starting at 6:30, anyone is invited to join us for our FCNL priority setting. This dialog takes place every two years, to discuss what legislative priorities we would like for Friends Committee on National Legislation to focus on during the next Congress. FCNL seeks the input from all Quaker Meetings and Churches to compile its list of priorities to work on with Congress. We welcome your input and encourage you to join us for soup, discussion, or both!
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