As Way Opens
Teeth-chattering, brisk, cracking, wind-burned, shivering, brittle, frost-bitten, chilled, numb…
Have you ever noticed how the bitter cold has its own vocabulary? It speaks to the conditions created by uncommon weather. Those in arctic regions most-likely utilize these words on a daily basis. We know in Indiana that soon the temperatures will drop to freezing and stay there for several days or even weeks. And sadly, those cold temps will cause uninsulated pipes to break, electric lines to snap, and roads to become too dangerous to travel, finding us gathered in our homes wrapped in blankets by fireplaces and woodstoves.
“Not prepared,” will be the verdict by those on the local news channels.
Not prepared for cold temps, not prepared for power outages, not prepared for pipes breaking, and definitely not prepared for slowing down life.
Yet, when bundled up with a cup of hot cocoa, a nice fuzzy blanket, and a warm fire a glow, it seems like this should have been the plan all along.
I have realized, I may not be prepared for everything that comes at me in life. The dropping temps, the pipe I didn’t check, the traffic jam due to the unexpected snowpacolypse, all can become catalysts for being better prepared in the future. I think we all could use a night bundled up in front of a fire or around some lit candles that frees us to just “be.”
Life often takes on the vocabulary with which I began this post. Maybe you are numb to life right now. Maybe you are cracking or your teeth are chattering because of fear. Maybe chills run up and down as you doubt, question, or await what is around the next corner. Maybe your life seems brittle and ready to fall apart at any second. And probably, the newscasters of your life are all claiming you “not prepared.”
Let’s be honest, I don’t think Mary and Joseph were ready to have a baby in a stinky animal stall that first Christmas night. As all newbie parents, they weren’t ready for the awkwardness of a first child. Come on…they hadn’t even planned to have a baby. Nor did they plan on all the trouble of trying to explain the pregnancy to family and friends before the birth.
So, through the craziness, busyness, and lack of preparation, may God help our eyes to be opened, our ears to hear, our souls to slow down. May we come to a quiet space at the manger and be reminded that we will never be fully prepared or ready – and that may be ok and just what we need.
Joys & Concerns
Many Thanks to last week’s food pantry volunteers: Kathy R, Mara S, Bill F, Beth F, Ray G, Tom F, Linda and Rik L, Carol and Jim D. The Mid North Food Pantry thanks all of those at First Friends who help as volunteers and who contribute to the ongoing needs of the pantry.
A Note from Shawn P: “First Friends Family: It was such a joy to sing for you last week with the Royal Sensation choir. We want to thank you for the very kind and generous freewill offering taken to help our groups at HSEHS. Merry Christmas to you all! -Shawn” (photo right)
Thank you for making Vespers a success! This past Sunday we held our annual Vespers service. We heard many talented musicians, including our own Handbell Choir, Eric B, Anna R, guest saxophone player Josh W, and our dedicated choir. Many thanks to our performers and everyone else who helped make this year’s Vespers a success, including but not limited to: all members of our choir; our volunteer ushers Shawn H, Jed K, and Ed M; our Fellowship Committee who put on a fantastic dinner for the huge crowd we had; and of course our members, attenders, and everyone else who supports our Meeting financially or otherwise. You all have made it possible for us to put on this wonderful Holiday service. Thank you!! (Photos below; see more on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/indyfriends)
Our Affirmation Class Thanks You! A BIG Thank-You to everyone who helped support our Affirmation Class this past Sunday when we sold cookies- and soup-in-a-jar and fresh baked bread (right).
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dale Graves. Dale passed Monday morning with family members present at his bedside. Please hold his family and many F/friends in the light. His presence will be greatly missed. You can find his obituary at https://indiana.funeral.com/2018/12/09/dale-graves/. A memorial service is being planned for January 5, with more details to follow in coming days.
Announcements, Reports & Opportunities
December Meetings Notice: Please note that there will be no Monthly Meeting for Business or Clerks’ Council Meeting this month due to Christmas activities. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Sunday School Notice: This Sunday, December 16 will be our last day of Sunday School this year. There will be no Sunday school on either Sunday, December 23rd or 30th. Happy Holidays!
Help a family in need this Christmas! This year we are partnering with Easterseals to help two local families this holiday season. We have a tree in the foyer of the Meetinghouse with tags that you can take. Simply buy and wrap the gift and bring it back to the Meetinghouse. Please make sure all gifts are in by this Monday, December 17. Please help us make this year a special one for these families!
Thank you for your pledges! First Friends would like to sincerely thank all Friends in support of our ministries. We are grateful to everyone who’s turned in a pledge for 2019 and/or have turned on automatic donations through their bank. This helps us plan a budget for the new year and plan wonderful Ministry & Fellowship activities such as Vespers. If you’d like to make a pledge for 2019, you can fill out a card at the Meetinghouse, fill out our online form at https://goo.gl/forms/aEQnYpXva2a0MvWo2 or simply contact the office. As we close out 2018, we hope you will consider including First Friends in your year-end giving.
Youth Christmas Party! We invite all of our youth to join us this Friday, December 14 for our annual Christmas party! It will be 6:30-9:00pm in the basement. We will have games, activities, dinner, and a gift exchange! Please bring a wrapped gift ($5 or less). It promises to be a holly jolly evening!
Children’s Pageant ~ Join us during our Meeting for Worship this Sunday, December 16 as our children depict and read the story of Jesus' birth. As well, the congregation will join in with singing hymns together. This is an annual tradition that you do not want to miss!
Annual Christmas Tea ~ Please join us this Sunday, December 16th immediately after worship in the parlor for the annual Christmas Tea. There will be lots of cookies and punch and fellowship. If you can donate two dozen cookies, they can be dropped off 10-11am, Saturday, December 15th or the morning of Sunday, December 16th in the parlor. For more information contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy holidays!
Christmas Caroling ~ Fa La La La La! Joy to the World! Deck the Halls! It's time to clear your throats and get ready to bring some Christmas cheer through singing some carols! Join us on Sunday, December 16—we’ll meet at 3:20pm the home of Tom & Pat P at The Stratford in Carmel. We’ll start caroling at 3:30, then move to American Village at 4:30 and The Forum at 5:30. Make sure to bring the kids as we will again be heading to Steak and Shake afterward for dinner! This should be a fun night for the entire family!
Meditational Woods Bird of the Month for December:
Tufted Titmouse – The Rock
If you have a bird feeder at home, you probably know this species. Tufted Titmouse is in the same family as the chickadees and is often seen with them. The gray color, crest, black eye on a pale cheek, and an orange patch on the side, clinch the identification. This bird is a fussy one, always warning of danger, especially when the danger is a human. The fussing sound titmice make is easily imitated and can be used to bring a titmouse closer. It is called “pishing”. To do it, make a shh sound (as if you are quieting someone down), but start it off with your mouth shaped to say a “p” before the shh. Do it over and over. If there is a titmouse around, it will likely come over to see what the trouble is.
The bird is very dependable in the neighborhoods around our meeting, and it visits our woods often. So dependable, that I could give it the nickname…The Rock. Jesus gave the nickname to one of his disciples, one who was very dependable (except for that one bad night of triple denial). So, what is the tie-in? After several weeks of bleak midwinter weather, we will have a sunny, perhaps balmy, day. You may hear a male Tufted Titmouse sing, even though it is late December or early January. What is its song?
“Peter, peter…peter, peter”
Get it? Dependable Tufted Titmouse: Peter: The Rock (Matthew 16:18)
~ Brad J
Men’s Threshing Together ~ If you are interested in gathering with other men who mull over current issues or topics, where all points of view are heard, no decisions are made, and all in a non-threatening atmosphere over a meal, then Threshing Together is for you! Join us for our next meeting on Thursday, December 20 at 7:00pm. See locations here: https://goo.gl/HosLVg
Mark your calendars for Oak Leaf book club titles for 2019! If you’d like to be on the email list for the group please contact the office at email@example.com.
January 29 ~ A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
February 26 ~ Less by Andrew Sean Greer
March 26 ~ On the Brink of Everything by Parker J Palmer
April 30 ~ The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
May 28 ~ Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
June 25 ~ Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
July 30 ~ The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
August 27 ~ Thank You for Being Late by Thomas L Friedman
September 24 ~ Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
October 29 ~ The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama XIV and Desmond Tutu
November 26 ~ Educated by Tara Westover
December 30 ~ The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone
The group meets at 7pm in the Parlor. All are invited!
Festival of Carols ~ The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Presents Festival of Carols! Dan R and Bill P are both part of this group. Make 2018 the holiday season you will forever remember! With 5 performances to choose from, the Midwest’s beloved holiday tradition includes your favorite carols and Christmas music featuring the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and musical surprises for kids from 1 to 92. Performances will be December 21-December 23 at the Palladium at the Center for Performing Arts. For more information or to buy tickets, visit indychoir.org!
Join us on Sunday, December 23 for a Special Meeting for Worship! You have been asking for a service filled with the singing of carols during the holiday season, and we have heard your request. On Sunday the 23rd, we will have a special Service of Carols and Their Stories. Come learn the stories behind some of our favorite Christmas carols and then join in singing them together. It should be a lovely morning of celebrating the season. Also, the service will include a time of waiting worship in the manner of Friends. Bring your voices and be ready to sing!
Reflections of Peace, Joy, and Hope: A Service of Poetry and Song: This Christmas Eve, Dec 24, join us at 5:30pm for a special Christmas Eve family worship that will include reflective poems, special music, and a story for the children - all to help us enter our Christmas celebration! Join us as we reflect and celebrate together this Christmas Eve.