As Way Opens
I am reading a book called A People’s History of Christianity - The Other Side of the Story by Diana Butler Bass for my class at ESR. She examines the question that many outside the Christian faith ask - I don’t have a problem with Jesus, but what happened after Jesus? How did our Christian faith and tradition develop after Jesus? What did that early faith community look like when it was being persecuted by the Romans? And how did Christianity change after Constantine declared Christianity the official state religion in the Roman Empire in 380 AD?
The Bible is the most important book in my life and because of that I invest the time and effort to study and wrestle with the Scriptures. The words of the early Christian leader Origen of Alexandria (184-253 AD) speaks to my condition in studying the Bible. He felt that the study of the Bible and the spiritual practice of prayer were intertwined. And he searched for the "wisdom hidden" under the literal words.
In that context, the more I study the life of Jesus in the Bible, the more aware I am of how radical his call is to us and how difficult this call is to embrace in our world today. Jesus didn’t come to set up a new religion but to transform Judaism. Jesus wasn’t interested in setting up doctrinal and faith statements to establish a new movement called Christianity and to provide the guidance to set up its hierarchical structure (which is often how the Bible is used in modern Christianity). Jesus proposed a new way of life for people living in a chaotic world in the Roman Empire. Jesus’ entire ministry was about transformation of the heart to a way of love, non-violence, acceptance, equality, humility, community and sacrifice. And the early Christian community embraced this message of Jesus as these early Christians were called the "People of the Way”. I like the quote from one of the early Christian defenders, Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) “We who formerly…valued above all things the acquisition of wealth and possession, now bring what we have into a common stock, and communicate to everyone in need; we who hated and destroyed one another, and on account of their different manners would not live with men of a different tribe, now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them, and pray for our enemies.” This was the beginning of Christianity and these early Christians were willing to lose their life not for a belief system but for a new way of living. How has our 21st century Christianity come so far from this original idea? Are we reading the Bible more to determine our theological positions on doctrine and less on the passion, energy and zeal for living in the way of Jesus? Has Christianity become too aligned with power and position and seeks purity of belief versus acceptance and embrace of all?
Bass highlights a term of generative Christianity that does not reject tradition but can find new discoveries in the early Christian church around meaningful spiritual practices and social justice. A re-emerging Christianity that is not new but has always been the beating heart of Christian history. She says that “Whereas militant Christianity triumphs over all, generative Christianity transforms the world through humble service to all. It is not about victory; it is about following Christ in order to seed human community with grace.” In these troubled times in our world, I am hopeful for renewal of the People of the Way that take Jesus and the Bible seriously in how we are to transform our community. That is the challenge for each of us individually as well as collectively in our faith communities.
Joys & Concerns
This past Saturday, a few friends gathered at Coburn Place to set up an apartment for a new resident that will be moving in soon. We went shopping in the furniture store and pantry in the basement for all the decorations and kitchen wares. We cleaned the apartment first and then began decorating. It was fun picking out furniture, bedding and dishes for this new resident. Coburn Place is the only transitional housing available in the state for victims of domestic abuse who are homeless. The residents are allowed to stay there up to two years rent free while getting their lives back on track. First Friends has supported this mission for several years now by donating items and for the past two years we have purchased an apartment. Thanks to Jim and Carol D, Amy P, Kathy and Bill F, Rebecca L, and Jody L for all of your help. If you would like more information about Coburn Place, please visit www.coburnplace.org.
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
We hope to see you this coming Palm Sunday at Meeting for Worship. Beth Henricks will also be selling chocolate, coffee, tea, and olive oil to support youth group.
Support our Ministries with Automatic Donations ~ We welcome any Friends that would like to set up their contribution as an automatic debit. This can be helpful for folks that don’t have checks and don’t want to have to remember to bring a checkbook to the Meeting. In order to do this, you will first need to contact your bank (in person or via the website) and set up online automatic payments (also commonly called “Bill Pay”). Once that is set up, you can add First Friends as a payee by typing our name and address into the system, and choosing how much you’d like to contribute, and how frequently. Your bank will automatically send a check to us at the specified frequency. After it’s set up you don’t have to do anything else! We are grateful for everyone’s continued support of ministries here at First Friends.
Women at the Well – Discussion for Women ~ For several months now, the women of First Friends have been asking for their own Threshing at the Tap. We are proud to introduce Women at the Well- a gathering of women who ponder current issues and topics, where differing views are discussed, no decisions are made, and food and drinks are enjoyed. It will take place every fourth Thursday of the month, and our next gathering will be on Thursday, March 22, 7pm, at Flatwater (832 E Westfield Blvd, Indianapolis). Join other women of First Friends and enjoy a wonderful night of conversation together.
March For Our Lives Gun Violence Rally ~ Come and join us for a local Rally for Hoosiers Concerned about Gun Violence this Saturday, March 24. This is a rally in support of the fight against gun violence in our state and our country, being held nationwide. This event is led by youth and students. The event in Indianapolis will start at 11:00 a.m. at the Indiana Statehouse. If you’d like to carpool with us, meet at the Meeting at 9:45 a.m. Please visit https://marchforourlives.com/ for more information.
The Absurd Cross: Escaping the Tyranny of Certainty & Satisfaction ~ See Peter Rollins and GraceUnlimited at Christian Theological Seminary (1000 West 42nd Street) on Saturday, March 24, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM. At any moment we might be undone by the feeling that this world is absurd. In response, we shore up all manner of religious defenses that promise to keep the void at bay. In contrast, Peter Rollins argues that there is a religionless heart to Christianity that overturns the tables of meaning, clears out the temples of tidy answers and drives out the sellers of certainty. We will hear a gospel with the incendiary ability to break down our defenses against the abyss, so that we might confront it face to face. Join Rollins and GraceUnlimited as they sensitize themselves to the scandal of this gospel message—a message that promises personal and political transformation only when we embrace a life beyond meaning, beyond certainty and beyond satisfaction, a life freed from the frenetic pursuit of wholeness, and from all the demons hidden along that path. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://goo.gl/MvxTN1.
Oak Leaf: Meeting for Reading: Turtles All The Way Down by John Green will be held Tuesday, March 27th at 7 pm in the Parlor. All are welcome! Cindy K will be leading the discussion. If you'd like to read ahead for next month, the April 24th title will be: A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter
Spring Cleaning in the Woods: Put on your work gloves and join us in the Woods on March 31, 2018 @ 9 AM! We will freshen up the Woods for Spring! One team will cut back the switch grass, others will weed around the fountain area and others will pull out some more of that darn invasive honeysuckle. Our Woods is becoming a haven for local and migrating birds. (See Brad Jackson’s birding observations). Come enjoy the fellowship of working with others to care for creation. If you have questions: email Mindy- email@example.com or Mary- firstname.lastname@example.org. Our next Woods work day will by May 19th, so mark your calendars!
Join us for our Easter Celebrations!
Sunday, April 1st
10:15 Meeting for Worship
Children’s Easter Egg Hunt after the Children’s Message
Easter Brunch following Worship
Garden Plots ~ Spring time is around the corner and the community garden is gearing up! Please reach out to the office at email@example.com if you are interested in having a garden box and participating in the organic community garden. Fresh produce and flowers are calling your name!
The Ordinance Film Screening & Discussion ~ Join the Indiana Assets & Opportunity Network, an initiative of Prosperity Indiana and the Indiana Institute for Working Families, for a screening of The Ordinance, a documentary that examines the payday and auto title loan industry while also following a small Texas town fighting for change. After the screening, members of a coalition of consumer advocates will lead a discussion about the film and answer attendees' questions about the payday industry in Indiana. Coalition members include Erin Macey, Indiana Institute for Working Families; Glen Tebbe, Indiana Catholic Conference; Bill Chapman, Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation; and Marie Morse, HomesteadCS. The event will be held Tuesday, April 3 6:30-8:00pm at 1845 W. 18th St., Indianapolis.
Help a Nurse Practitioner ~ Janice H is a First Friends attender working at Hawthorne Community Center and is trying to help a lovely Chinese-American client named Sophie find a primary care physician office or similar setting for her family nurse practitioner preceptorship. This is her capstone practicum and she has lots of prior clinical experience and has worked the last seven years in out-patient surgery at IU Health. She has a BSN from Purdue. The doctor who has supervised her prior clinicals is on maternity leave. Her university (Chamberlain) leaves it up to the student to arrange her practicum and her employer has not provided any leads that were fruitful. The requirements of the supervisor are minimal: 1) a 5 min. online evaluation of the student at four weeks and end of practicum (eight weeks). 2) Completion of 125 HOURS of clinical experience with primary care patients, preferably between April 30 and June 20, 2018. Preceptor can be an MD, NP, or PA. If you can help or even provide a referral to someone who might be willing to help, please contact Janice at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-443-6458 or leave a message at work: 317-637-4312 X 125 and she will call back.
Financial Education Class ~ Join us this spring, Thursday, April 5th for the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class! Want to learn how to better handle your money, budget, and dump debt? Then this is the class for you! The class will be hosted by Sam R and her sister. This class has made a HUGE impact on the her life and her financial plan for the future and can do the same for you! Click here to sign up or copy and paste the link below. Also, you're welcome to contact the office if you have any questions at email@example.com. This will be a 9 week class held at East Tenth United Methodist Church, 2327 E 10th St, Indianapolis, IN 46201.
Education Training ~ The Christian Education Committee will be holding a training session on Sunday, April 22 from 11:30-1:15 in the Parlor. We will view a presentation by Julie Burk from the Indiana Autism Society on tips and strategies on how to teach kids on the autism spectrum as well as discussing our Sunday School and Children’s Worship curriculum. We will provide lunch and childcare for those with kids. Everyone who may be interested is invited. Since we have several children in our faith community that are on the spectrum, it could be very beneficial to attend this training so we are better equipped to provide a positive experience for all of our children. Please let the office know if you will be able to attend: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Save the Date: FCNL Anniversary Celebration ~ Join the Friends Committee on National Legislation at Earlham College in Richmond on the afternoon of Saturday, May 12, 2018 for a 75th anniversary celebration. The theme will be “Returning to Our Roots” as the celebrate 75 years working for the world we seek. We will share more information as it becomes available. If you have questions, you can contact Anna McCormally at Anna@fcnl.org or (202) 903-2522.
AVP Annual National Gathering ~ All are invited to join the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) annual conference held this year at Earlham College in Richmond. It will be on Memorial Day weekend, May 25-28. If you’re interested in registering, please visit https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=2022849. In an attempt to bring their work to high school students, AVP is also trying to raise funds to help send some of their students to the conference as well. They have included in the program a youth panel discussion which their students will participate with youth from AVP programs in New Jersey and New York. They have invited the Peace Learning Center to be a part of this as well. This is an exciting opportunity for the students. It costs $100 to send one high school student to the entire weekend conference where they will have the opportunity to meet and learn from experienced AVP facilitators from across the country. If you’re interested in donating, please visit https://avpindiana.org/.