As Way Opens
I had a great awareness of Jesus’ suffering last week, starting from his entrance into Jerusalem, the betrayals, the rejections, pain, torture and the cross. I reflected on how Jesus could possibly continue to offer grace and love throughout all that he was experiencing. I think I was preoccupied with this because it was a tough week for me. I spent time with a dear friend with a terminal illness, lost a dear friend to Alzheimer's (and relived my husband Jerry’s loss two years ago to the same disease), and struggled in a couple of important personal relationships to me. Yet I felt Jesus along side of me all week experiencing his own suffering of the passion week. There is such comfort in knowing that Jesus understands my pain through his own experience of suffering. Dan Rains sent me a quote from Martin Luther King Jr that said, “One must learn to make the transition from “let this cup pass from me” to “nevertheless, not my will, but thy will be done.” And God grant that as you face life with all of its decisions--as you face the bitter cup which you will inevitably face from day to day--God grant that you will learn this one thing and that is to make the transition from “this cup” to “nevertheless”….This, you see, is the thing that determines whether you go through life devoted to an eternal cause or whether you go through life depending on your own finite answers, which really turn out to be no answers. This is the thing that determines whether you can rise out of your egocentric predicament to devotion to a higher cause. This is what Jesus was able to do and this is the lesson that he presents to us today.
I needed Easter this past Sunday. The promise of hope and resurrection. The path of Jesus that triumphs over death. The knowledge that the cross was not the end of the story. The idea that Jesus as my gardener that tends to me and cares for me through my own struggles and rebirth to a greater spiritual awakening. Throughout the morning of beautiful flowers, children’s laughter and smiles, songs, words, and sermon - my heart was overflowing with a sense of optimism of the future and my part in that future that contrasted so much with my heavy heart of last week. This is the story of Easter.
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 Ed Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org or (317) 691-5542 or Phil Goodchild at email@example.com or (317) 790-9054, 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
Spring Wildflower Hike ~ Join our very own Norma Wallman, author of Wildflowers of Holliday Park, for a leisurely spring hike at Holliday Park to see what’s blooming. It will be held at the park at 6363 Spring Mill Road this Saturday, April 7 from 10-11:30am. Norma began personally documenting wildflowers on walks and has now collected 20 years of data specific to the flowers of Holliday Park. Ages 16+. Call 317-327-7180 for reservations. Tickets are $7/person, pre-registration is required. For more information, visit https://www.hollidaypark.org.
Youth Group this Sunday ~ Calling all youth! We will hold Youth Group after worship this Sunday, April 8 at 11:30, led by Aaron and Michelle T and Ben W. See you there!
Friends Education Fund is a Quaker college scholarship program for African American students. If you know of a student who might be interested in applying, please ask them to visit our website at www.indyfriends.org/friends-education-fund/. Completed applications should be emailed to FriendsEducationFund@indyfriends.org. Applications are being accepted through May 1st, 2017. The selected applicants will be celebrated later in June.
Meditational Woods Bird of the Month for April: Fox Sparrow
“This bird was a surprise for me. It literally took my breath away as I gasped, ‘It’s a Fox Sparrow!’ The truth is I had just walked several miles in a couple of Carmel parks, but I had an errand that would take me near the meetinghouse. So I arrived in mid-day (not the best time for birds singing), and expected only a few common species.
“This visitor comes through Indiana in March and April on its way up to northern Ontario to nest. It has a wonderfully bold song, although this one did not sing; perhaps it was a female. I first noticed it when the traffic on Kessler ceased for a moment, and I heard scratchings in the leaves on the ground. Only a few bird species find food this way: Jump forward and scratch backward with both feet at the same time. I knew it had to be one of those! The bold red streaking and other red markings is what really grabs one’s attention. The bird was near the far northeast corner of the woods.
“I have noticed that occasionally when I am tired and expecting very little from a situation, God surprises me in a quiet moment with an unexpected treat, even a colorful avian visitor passing through, pausing for lunch in our Meditational Woods.” ~Brad J
Spring Small Groups ~ Last Fall over 40 First Friends attenders and members gathered over 6 weeks at different times and locations to explore a book study and hold space for sharing parts of our spiritual autobiographies. It was a deeply enriching for those that were able to join! This Spring we have 2 more small group studies available to those that are able and interested in deepening their connections in a small group with Friends. Contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org with your preferred time or sign up on Sundays just outside of the sanctuary when you're at worship. We ask that you commit to missing 2 or fewer sessions during the 5-6 week journeys together to build cohesive connection. Your presence is needed!
Braving the Wilderness
Led by Deb S and Bill H
Location: Deb's home (N side behind Walmart on Keystone)
Time: 7:00pm Mondays April 16, 23, 30, May 7, 14, 21
Book study: Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown
Exploring Your Spiritual Garden
Led by Linda L and Ed M
Location: Linda and Ed's home
Time: 6:30pm Wednesdays May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
Instead of a book, we will have five focus questions: Examples might be: What nurtures your heart? How has forgiveness been important in your life? Has anger been helpful and when? What seeds do you want to grow more of?
This Earth Day, April 22, 2018, we will celebrate the wonder of God’s creation. The earth where we live and breathe and have our being is a miracle of creation. According to Genesis we are not separate from the earth, but we have our origin out of the elements of the cosmos and we will return to that at the end of life.
By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Gen 3:19
In his message on Easter morning, Pastor Bob shared about the role of the gardener in both the Old and New Testaments. He gave many illustrations of how gardening and earth care are essential parts of our spiritual and physical lives. When Mary Magdalene returns to the tomb on Easter morning, she mistakes Jesus for the gardener. The New Testament authors wanted to emphasize this connection between the simple acts of earth care and the resurrection. (You can listen to his message online at https://www.indyfriends.org/sunday-morning-messages/).
This month of April, you are invited to consider how you can take little steps to care for this amazing blue ball that exists within the magnificence of the heavens by remembering this credo: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The first step is to reduce the amount of waste that we create. Simple things like taking your own bags to carry home purchases, planning menus to reduce the amount of unused food or helping us at Meeting when we choose to use the tableware and dishes to decrease the amount of material we recycle. This week, what could be your one step to take to reduce waste?
From the Creation Care Team: As you may know, we at First Friends are doing our best to be good stewards of the creation that God has given us. In the realm of environmental sustainability little things can make a big difference. We have done away with Styrofoam containers and we are encouraging everyone to use our reusable coffee cups instead of paper as much as possible. We continue to use recyclable plastic for cold drinks and sometimes plastic dishes for special occasions. What we have not been doing so well is recycling our plastic containers. If you drink from one of our plastic cups we would like for you to put them in the GREEN RECYCLE CONTAINER that you will find near the serving area in Fellowship Hall. Drinking cups should be empty and if you are using a plastic container for food shake or wipe it off before putting it in the recycle container. Please DO NOT put plastic containers in the trash can unless you are absolutel.y sure it is non-recyclable. Thank you all!
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.
Eco-Film: The Breakthrough in Renewable Energy ~ Join us right here at First Friends Meeting for the April Eco-Film! It will be held Friday, April 13 at 7:00pm in the Parlor. Clean energy is becoming less exotic and more practical than ever before thanks to the efforts of a few key countries. Collectively, they're greasing the wheels for a worldwide revolution. The Breakthrough in Renewable Energy, a new documentary produced by the acclaimed VPRO Backlight series, takes us inside the corporate offices and production lines where this groundbreaking work is being done, and examines what it could mean for the future of energy consumption on Earth.
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 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 with any questions at email@example.com. Thank you for your service!
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 will be able to attend: firstname.lastname@example.org.