Here we are at the beginning of 2019, a new year that offers promise, opportunities, growth and adventure. I always like to spend part of my New Year’s Eve reflecting on the highs and lows of the year that is ending and setting goals and intentions for the new year. It is a symbolic time to step back from our busyness and think about the bigger themes in our lives. It’s also a time to think about our spiritual practices and if they are feeding our soul and how might we go deeper into our relationship with God and thinking about how we live our relationship with God in the world.
I have spent time doing this and I have to say that I have fallen short in feeling a great sense of hope. There is so much brokenness in our world, in our relationships, in our politics. I have felt an underlying sadness as I go about my day and try to do the best that I can to make a difference and live into God’s love. I continue to reflect on the origins of this feeling and keep coming back to how many things I can’t control and how hard of a concept this is for me. And I keep experiencing the ideas that what I am doing falls short, is not adequate and I recognize my need for greater wisdom.
When I feel this kind of melancholy, I start to read more, listen to music and spend more time in prayer. What are your spiritual practices in times of darkness? While I may feel that God is not listening to my pleas, I begin to listen more deeply to what I hear in my mind and my heart about what I need to do. And the queries I hear in my heart guide me to greater personal awareness, insights and a call to action. I revisited Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Prize winner of Literature in 1913 from Bengal, mystic, intellectual, painter and lover of God. His words from his writings of Gitanjali speak to me: “If thou speakest not I will fill my heart with thy silence and endure it. I will keep still and wait like the night with starry vigil and its head bent low with patience. The morning will surely come, the darkness will vanish, and thy voice pour down in golden streams breaking through the sky. Then thy words will take wing in songs from every one of my birds’ nests and thy melodies will break forth in flowers in all my forest groves.”
I send prayers that you hear God’s voice in golden streams and that God’s song takes hold within each of us.
Quaker Affiliated Organizations
IFCL -- A Hearing for Redistricting Reform Bill, SB 91
IFCL has been working with the Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting at the Statehouse this January for redistricting reform. Sen. John Ruckelshaus has introduced SB91, which is the coalition's bill to create a citizens redistricting commission for Indiana. So far, we have not gotten a commitment from the Chair of the Senate Elections Committee, Sen. Greg Walker, to hear the bill. With some encouragement from folks around the state, he is more likely to give our bill a hearing and vote. Please contact Sen. Walker today by clicking on this link from Common Cause Indiana. https://actionnetwork.org/letters/senator-walker-give-us-a-hearing/?link_id=1&can_id=df9c01001f16dee04d57a3d43dd997ef&source=email-redistricting-reform-cant-wait&email_referrer=email_475631&email_subject=redistricting-reform-cant-wait.
In addition, we are looking for volunteers who can be at the Statehouse on Monday and Thursday mornings to attend Elections Committee hearings and serve as visual reminders that time is running out for meaningful redistricting reform. New Congressional and state legislative maps will be drawn in 2021, so if we are going to make major changes to the redistricting process, it has to happen this year. Monday times would be from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. and Thursday times would be 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. If you're available and can help, please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
As the weather forecast calls for a winter storm this weekend, we want everyone to be aware that we may cancel Meeting for Worship if conditions prove to be hazardous Sunday morning. If worship is cancelled, please keep in mind we will have another service Sunday evening, the Christian Prayer Unity Service. We encourage everyone to attend this service if able. (See more details below!) If Sunday service is cancelled we will put a notice in the weather closings on channel 59 (the best, most detailed option) as well as channels 8 and 13.
Did you lose a ring? This ring was found in Fellowship Hall last week. It is thin and light, gold-colored with a silver-colored band in the middle. If this is yours or someone you know, please contact the office at email@example.com or 317-255-2485.
Rise-Up Sing Along! The first Sing Along of 2019 happens on the third Friday, January 18. Under the leadership of our talented Jim Kartholl, join in singing a variety of mostly well-known songs chosen from Rise Up Singing and Rise Again. Song sets will be provided. This joyful event takes place in the parlor at First Friends Meeting (3030 East Kessler Blvd) at 7:00 PM. Notice the photo of Jim. See how happy he is!
Christian Prayer Unity Service ~ At least once a year, Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (John 17.21). This is an ecumenical service where Christians all over will gather to pray. This year, First Friends Meeting will be hosting the prayer service for Indianapolis on the evening of Sunday, January 20 at 6:00pm in the Meetingroom. Bob will deliver the sermon. We are asking anyone who is able to please donate cookies or snacks for the service—please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help. Thank you!
“The Highest Party in the World” 50th Anniversary of the First Summit of Mt. Everest ~ Jeff Rasley, AB'75, participated in the 2003 celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the first summit of Mt. Everest in Nepal with Sir Edmund Hillary's family. Rasley will give a talk and slide show about the first summit by Ed Hillary & Tenzing Norgay and the 50th Anniversary celebrations in Nepal in Kathmandu, Mt. Everest Base Camp, and Tengboche Monastery. It will take place Sunday, January 20 from 12:30pm - 2:30pm at Woodstock Club, 1301 W 38th Street, Indianapolis 46208. Cost is $30/person and includes brunch. For more information or to register, contact Louis Mestichelli, Alumni Club of Indiana President at email@example.com or 317-679-3781.
Martin Luther King Jr Celebration Service ~ Please mark your calendars for a service in celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, organized by the Shalom Zone. It will be held at 11:00am on Monday, January 21, 2019 at Cross and Crown Lutheran Church, 5233 E 79th St. We will gather together as a community of churches to remember and celebrate Dr. King’s dream of racial harmony and social justice in America. This commemorative service is a public testament of our common values as communities of faith actively seeking the shalom of the city as the prophet Jeremiah reminds us. Through the inspirational words of Dr. King and in the singing of songs of hope and freedom and as we share a luncheon with our neighbors, we become renewed and refreshed for the new work ahead. For more information please visit https://goo.gl/L5wGxN. If you’d like to volunteer, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70a0f4ca4ad2ea20-mlkservice.
Please donate your plastic bags to Mid-North Food Pantry! The food pantry is out of plastic grocery bags and could really use some more. If you have extras you’d like to donate, please drop them off in the box labeled “plastic bags” in Fellowship hall near the Donation Station. Thank you for helping Mid-North Food Pantry!
Donate your gently used winter clothing! Coats, scarfs, hats, gloves that you no longer need will be welcomed by the John H Boner Center. Children who may be wearing underwear donated by you, would appreciate outgrown jackets, coats, etc. (Outerwear does not need to be new.) You can drop off donations in a collection box in Fellowship Hall on the stage. Thank you for your generosity!
Heritage Place New Year Open House & Membership Event! Have you ever wondered what Heritage Place of Indianapolis is all about? Now is your chance! Talk with one of our wonderful instructors; learn about our weekly educational programs, our home-based services and our programs that happen “now and then”! It will be held Wednesday, January 23, 10:00am-2:00pm at the Common Ground Church Building, 4550 N. Illinois St (SW corner of Illinois and 46th Street). Refreshments will be available, no reservations necessary, and plenty of free parking—come anytime! For Seniors 55 and up. For more information, visit www.heritageplaceindy.org.
Men’s Threshing Together DATE CHANGE ~ 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, January 24 at 7:00pm. Please note this is the fourth Thursday instead of the usual third Thursday of the month. See locations here: https://goo.gl/QhkXTo.
QHC Ground Hog Men’s Retreat ~ Quaker Men: A great experience awaits you at Quaker Haven Camp for the annual Ground Hog Retreat January 25-26. This will be a great time of discussion, sharing, prayer, fun and table fellowship. Volunteers may also help in construction of the new staff duplex. Cost for the retreat is $60.00. Those who will do construction work a day or two may get a good discount. To register or get additional information call Quaker haven at 574-834-4193 or email camp at contact@QuakerHaven.com
It's time to celebrate! Join us for a celebration pitch-in on Sunday, January 27th following meeting to worship to recognize and appreciate our most recent new members! Please bring a dish according to your name in the alphabet. Anyone with last names of A-I are asked bring desserts; J-Z sides and salads, though feel free to bring both! We hope to see you there!
Western Yearly Meeting Spring Retreat ~ All are invited to Western Yearly Meeting’s spring retreat on Saturday, March 2 hosted here at First Friends Meeting. This is a one-day church growth event for everyone who is interested in exploring avenues of growth for their Meeting. The theme is Christ’s words, “If I be lifted up I will draw all people unto me.” (John 12:32) Sessions include:
Identity – In this important session we will not examine how we currently see ourselves and our situation, but how we might see our circumstance in Christ.
First Impressions – This session helps us to examine our churches and congregations in ways that acknowledge our struggles but also identify our struggles.
Appreciative Inquiry – In this session we will take an inventory of all the resources we have through which we might build or rebuild a dynamic and vibrant ministry.
P.A.G.E. – Utilizing a simple assessment tool (poor/average/good/excellent), we can evaluate what ministries and programs we might need to change, invest more into, or even eliminate.
The retreat for pastors is on Friday from 4:00pm to 7:00pm and the retreat for all begins Saturday at 8:30am and ends at 7:00pm. Cost is $30 per person and includes meals. You can find the brochure here: https://goo.gl/BfHAVY. To register, fill in and send the registration form here: https://goo.gl/nxSLvh. The registration deadline is February 1, 2019. For more information, contact Sue Whitesel at firstname.lastname@example.org.