As Way Opens
For many this week is Holy Week. That means by Sunday morning we will be hearing a great deal about resurrection. There will be talk of a tomb, a stone being rolled away, and new life emerging. Yet, for people unaffiliated with the church or somewhat skeptical, the resurrection story of Jesus is simply a great myth or a fairy tale with a grand ending, and that’s about all. If the life of this radical rabbi from the Middle East, who our entire religious movement is named for, is going to have any lasting impact on our current lives, we must continue to learn how to see resurrection in our present condition not just as something that happened 2000+ years ago.
Throughout my spiritual life, I have had many people ask me if I believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Most were the theological privileged trying to question my faith and see if I was a “true believer” or at least made from their same mold. Often my affirming answers would trail long, and I enjoyed firing challenging questions back at those asking. I think in my mind I was always trying to find a way to answer the question that made sense both when I thought about it and actually said it.
Then in 2009, I attended the “Poets, Prophets and Preachers” conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. One of the main speakers for this event was writer, philosopher, storyteller and public speaker, Peter Rollins. Rollins, who is from Belfast, was just hitting American audiences at this time. His controversial message, as his website indicates, “sets aside questions regarding life after death to explore the possibility of life before death.”
As Rollins closed his last session, he caught the audience off guard when he said the following,
“Without equivocation or hesitation, I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ. This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think…”
Briefly we all sat in shock with Rollins’ boldness, but before people had a chance to protest or leave the gathering, he continued.
“I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system.
However there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed.”
Rollins’ explanation left me weeping and changed. For the first time, I truly knew what the resurrection of Jesus meant and the impact it has on our world. May the resurrection of Jesus impact your world in the same way this week.
Joys & Concerns
We had a great turn out for the March for our Lives in Indy last Saturday! Thousands of people came out to show their support, despite the snow. Some of us and our signs even made it onto local and national news! We also had a chance to meet Senator Joe Donnelly. Thanks to all who braved the weather and came to represent First Friends!
Last Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday with our traditional “Hosanna” while our kids danced in with palm branches. Thanks to Kathy R for capturing these wonderful shots of our Meeting for Worship!
Youth group had a great time last Friday evening at SkyZone Trampoline Park. We had 16 jumpers as well as several of us adults enjoying the action from comfortable chairs in the lobby. Upcoming events include helping in the woods this Saturday morning, youth group with Aaron and Michelle T and Ben W on April 8th and a trip to Connor Prairie for the Follow the North Start experience on April 20th. Please let Beth H know if your youth (6th - 12th grade) would like to join us.
IFCL Legislative Update -- Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation has been hard at work at the Statehouse, attempting to translate the social concerns of Friends into legislative action. Here are summaries of legislation that received particular focus from IFCL this past session: http://www.quakerifcl.org/legislative-issues/2018-ifcl-legislative-summary/ Following each bill is a notation indicating whether IFCL supposed or opposed, and current status.
IFCL had notable victories in stopping two predatory lending bills (HB 1319 and SB 420); expanding mental healthcare access (HB 1007) and funding for community mental health centers (HB 1141); resourcing suspected victims of human trafficking (HB 1191); and incremental progress towards eventual redistricting reform (SB 326) and a meaningful hate crimes bill (SB 418), among others. The breadth of accomplishments that will have a real-world impact is what separates IFCL from other lobbying organizations.
Many of the bills that did not become law this year will likely resurface in the future, for example HB 1022, which would have repealed the current law that requires a person to obtain a license to carry a handgun in Indiana, and SB 33 regarding firearms in houses of worship (both opposed by IFCL). In light of the recent March for Our Lives and Pastor Bob’s message this past Sunday, now is a great time for Friends, through IFCL, to have a direct impact on how their elected representatives address vital issues of statewide and national importance. To echo the call and response during the March for Our Lives rally at the Statehouse -- "What does democracy look like?" "THIS is what democracy looks like!" -- your involvement with IFCL can be what democracy looks like. If you are interested in relating our Quaker testimonies to the shaping of responsible decisions by our state government, please reach out to the office at email@example.com, or visit the IFCL website at www.quakerifcl.org.
AFSC’s Gaza Unlocked: Hearing in the Heartland is a special opportunity to learn more about the crisis in Gaza and connect with others working to end the blockade. The event is modeled after a congressional committee fact-finding hearing. You’ll hear from expert witnesses who will share seldom-heard stories from Gaza about the impacts of the blockade and raise critical questions about U.S. policies in the region. Hearing in the Heartland is free and open to the public. After the hearing, join us for a ticketed dinner and celebration of Palestinian culture, featuring food, music, dance, and poetry. We hope you will join us on Saturday, April 21st, 1-5pm at the Indianapolis Central Library, 40 E St. Clair St. For more information or to buy tickets for the dinner, visit http://gazaunlocked.org/heartland.
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.
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
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
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.
Spring Cleaning in the Woods: Put on your work gloves and join us in the Woods this Saturday, March 31 @ 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 invasive honeysuckle. Our Woods is becoming a haven for local and migrating birds. Come enjoy the fellowship of working with others to care for creation. If you have questions: email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our next Woods work day will by May 19th, so mark your calendars!
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.
We are in need of volunteers for the Mid North Food Pantry! ~ Several of our “regulars” will not be able to volunteer at the food pantry on Wednesdays April 4th and 18th and May 2nd. If you are in town and available during any of these dates, please consider volunteering. The food pantry is located at 3333 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, and is open from 10am-2pm. You are welcome to stay the whole time or part of the time as you are able. Please contact the office if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your service!
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 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.
Rise Up Singalong! The next Sing Along with Jim K and Dan H will be April 20th, the third Friday of the month, at 7:00 in the parlor. Those who have Rise Up Singing and Rise Again, please bring them. We are planning a song list ahead of time and will have enlarged copies of the selections for those who lack books. You are welcome to invite friends. We had sixteen singers in March for a delightful evening.
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 plan to attend: firstname.lastname@example.org