As Way Opens
This past Sunday I led our young people in a Sunday School class that talked about repentance and sin. As I read through the lesson plan, I was wrestling inside of myself for a couple of days with these two words that have carried a lot of shame, fear and negative meaning to me in my youth. The idea of a dualistic God that wants us to deny our self, our bodies, our creation and receive repentance from our depraved selves always bothered me and seemed like an antithesis to the beauty, creation and love of God. I read Romans 6:1-13 in the Message Bible this week and I began to feel differently about the words repentance and sin (as well as a fascinating discussion with our youth about these two concepts). I am excerpting some of the verses from this passage. “This is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace - a life in a new land! That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world…. God speaks your mother tongue and you hang on every word…. you are alive to God." While Quakers don’t feel the need for a literal water baptism, the idea of baptism is crucial in our understanding of our relationship to God. Sin keeps us turned inward to ourselves and repentance gives us a new life and a new country. There are 2 words in the Greek for new - neos means a new thing that is very much like the first thing. The other new word is kainos which means something new like we have never seen before. Kainos is the word Paul uses in Romans to describe our relationship to God. The love and grace that takes over our life is something beyond anything we have ever seen. We experience an utter transformation and our journey of life is bathed in God’s love. I like what the well-known theologian Soren Kierkegaard says about repentance, “What else is repentance, which does indeed look back, but nevertheless in such a way that precisely thereby it quickens its pace toward what lies ahead!”
After Sunday School on Sunday I led children’s worship for our older kids from 1st to 5th grade. The lesson plan was about prayer and we talked a lot about how and when we all pray. The kiddos learned the Lord’s Prayer and we had activities to memorize this prayer. I was really blown away by how quickly the kids were remembering the words of this prayer from Jesus and at the end of our time together they were all reciting it with their eyes closed. We also talked about the elements of this prayer and how we might incorporate it into how we pray. The kids then created a collage of what their special prayer place would be (shouldn’t we all identify our special prayer place) and ended our time together laying on the floor and entering silent worship and reciting the Lord’s Prayer together. Our kids are amazing conduits to God and I appreciate how they show me Gods heart through their faces, their words and their actions. I am thankful for the insights of all of our children and youth in my spiritual journey.
Joys & Concerns
Thank you everyone who volunteered at the food pantry last week: Beth F, Ray G, Tony M, Kathy R, Mara S, Kathy and Bill F, Linda and Rik L, Carol and Jim D. Thanks to all for their continuing support of the pantry.
Our Quaker Affirmation curriculum has recently been translated to Spanish by Emma Condori from Bolivia. She said it is already being used in Bolivia and has shared it with Quakers from El Salvador. We are grateful that our Quaker Affirmation youth curriculum is already being spread in Central and South America!
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
Indiana House Bill 1093 - Did you know that Indiana is one of only five states without a hate crime law? Indiana is now introducing HB 1093 which outlines and punishes bias crimes. If you’re interested in supporting this legislation, Brent Bill is sending a minute to our representatives on behalf of Quakers in Indiana (read the minute at https://goo.gl/3AwLWC). He is asking anyone interested to show their support by adding their names to the list of Friends supporting this bill. If you would like to add your name, please contact Brent at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Thursday, February 28.
Sunday Unprogrammed Worship ~ We are now opening the parlor for unprogrammed worship from 9:00 - 10:00 (during the Sunday School hour) every Sunday morning. Folks will enter the parlor in silence and worship together for the hour.
Scout Sunday March 3rd ~ Current and former Scouts, please let us know if there are any changes or updates for you and your family. Please submit any updates to the office so we can recognize you on March 3rd. Please send your name, Scouting Organization, Troop number and Scout rank. Email email@example.com or call 317-255-2485.
Small Groups ~ Come join in a time of deeper fellowship and connection with one of our upcoming Small groups. In the past our small groups study sessions were an opportunity to deepen connections in a small group with Friends. See below for current available sessions. Sign up at the Meetinghouse or email/call the office to save your spot. Please let us know if you need the Meeting to get a provide a copy of the book for you. We hope you will join us!
World Day of Prayer ~ You are invited to join an ecumenical celebration of community prayer and action for peace and justice! The service will be on Friday, March 1 at 10:00am at St. Lawrence Catholic Church, 4650 N. Shadeland Ave. Come enjoy music, Scripture, and prayer. Light refreshments will be served in the Social Room after the program. For more information, see the flyer here: https://www.saintlawrence.net/images/WD-Eng.pdf
Join First Friends for a night with the Pacers! Please join us for a family outing to the Pacers vs Nets game on Sunday April 7th. Tipoff is at 5:00pm, doors open at 4:00pm. Tickets will be provided by the Meeting. Each person will receive a Pacers hat and a free meal (hot dog, chips and a soda). Please RSVP by Friday, March 1st with Beth Henricks at (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to attend!
Meditational Woods Bird-of-the-Month for February
A Time for Singing, and a Time for Silence
A couple of weeks ago, I was pulling into a parking space near the sidewalk into the Meditational Woods. I had not even gotten out of the car, when the bird flew into the large Winterberry bush immediately in front of me at the edge of the woods. The flash of white in the wing and tail got my attention, and the lack of blue, and small head meant it was not the ordinary Blue Jay. In fact it was a Northern Mockingbird: robin-sized, except slimmer with a long tail. Indianapolis is at the northern edge of its “common” range, and the species seems right at home in neighborhood settings like ours. Rough winters, however can reduce the population. This was my first sighting of the species on the meeting house property.
Mockingbirds are famous for their variety of songs and other vocalizations, and for singing on moonlit nights. Not today, however; in fact, outside of the courting and nesting seasons, like this day, the males are usually silent. It did not even give its call, a loud sharp, “thick” or “check”.
A time to sing, and a time to be silent.
Thanks to Norma Wallman for identifying the berry bush for me.
AFSC Presents: “Revolutionary Visions & Radical Imaginations: Celebrating Solidarity & Courage” ~ Join American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) for an evening to celebrate and be in community with social justice leaders in Indianapolis. It will be Friday, March 1 at 6:00pm at Sanctuary on Penn, 701 N Pennsylvania St, Indianapolis, IN 46204. The evening will include a social hour, dinner, keynote speaker Elle Roberts, and a showcase of local musicians and spoken word artists. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://secure.everyaction.com/p7tPzxfZFEScnjy-KV0W5g2.
Church Women United Newsletter ~ Church Women United have a number of events coming up in March and April. Did you know they have a newsletter? It’s a great way to keep up with upcoming events in the Indianapolis area. You can view the March/April edition here: https://goo.gl/EQjr5Q. If you would like to sign up for the CWU newsletter, contact Mary Boggs at email@example.com.
Samantha R invites you to Financial Peace University ~ Are you ready to take 2019 by storm?! If you're interested in making big changes in your financial life that will lead to empowerment and peace of mind then this is the class for you. When I first took Financial Peace University (FPU) I was 22 and fresh out of college. I owed Valparaiso University $40,000 in student loans and was new to life as a young person with a steady pay check. I am SO grateful for everything I learned in that class. FPU TAUGHT ME TO HATE DEBT! As a result I paid off my student loan debt in 6 years on a social worker's salary, my partner and I bought a home, renovated it paying cash, got married paying cash, and went on a honeymoon of a life time paying cash. The only debt we have is our mortgage and we hate debt so much we plan to have it paid off in 7 years. We couldn't have made all of this possible without FPU! Ready for change?
We're hosting Financial Peace University starting Tuesday, March 5th from 6-8 at Hamilton Exhibits at 9150 East 33rd Street, Indianapolis, IN 46235. The class is $110 for a lifetime membership. The 2-hour 9-week class has the amazing potential to CHANGE YOUR LIFE! It changed mine. Click here to sign up.
Exhibition and Performance: The Story of Lot’s Wife ~ The Religion, Spirituality & the Arts Seminar (RSA), a project of the IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute, invited 12 Indiana artists to explore and expound upon the story of Lot’s Wife during the eighth annual Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Seminar and the accompanying art exhibition. Artists include Stan Blevins, Peggy Breidenbach, Alys Caviness-Gober, Marjie Giffin, A. Paul Johnson, Kasey May, Michael McAuley, William Peacock, Katherine Simmons, Jennifer Strange, Teresa Vazquez, and Kevin Wilson.
In this exhibition, the artists consider questions that delve far beyond the story of Lot’s Wife who, as told in Genesis 19, turns to see the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and becomes a pillar of salt. Did she act in disobedience or out of compassion? What is our responsibility to bear witness? Is looking back redemptive or paralyzing? Might we see contemporary events (mass tragedies, refugees) in the light of this text? Exploring the story through religion, art, poetry, and music, this exhibition will ask questions fundamental to the human experience. This event will be Thursday, March 7 at 6:00pm at the Jewish Community Center (6701 Hoover Rd, Indianapolis), but the works will be available for viewing through April 30th. Additional information about the seminar is available at https://www.culturalecologies.org/rsa/.
Eco-Film: “Courage, Brains and Muscle” ~ We’re excited about former Indiana First Lady, Judy O’Bannon, coming in person to Epworth for the presentation of her new documentary: “Courage, Brains and Muscle: Our Environmental CHAMPIONS.” This will be shown Friday, March 8, 7:00pm, at Epworth UMC, 6450 Allisonville Rd, Indianapolis, and is sponsored by the Shalom Zone Churches. Ms. O’Bannon will be accompanied by Dr. Carol Johnston, recently retired professor from CTS, as they show the tv Environmental documentary they made in partnership with WFYI. Judy was Indiana’s much loved “First Lady” during husband Frank O’Bannon’s governorship from 1997-2003. This uplifting hour-long film shows Judy traveling our state in search of environmental champions.
Rise Up Singalong ~ Sing Along with Jim on March 15th, the third Friday. We start at 7 and end around 8:30. Shakers, tambourine, wooden frog are available to add to the fun. Join the group in singing Moon River, Leavin’ on a Jet Plane, Rock A My Soul and more. Improv harmonies welcomed. Shower singers, in-the-car singers warmly welcomed.
Take What You Need Concert March 17th 3PM at Roberts Park UMC 401 N. Delaware, Indianapolis. VOCE (member Carolyn T sings with this group) and Matthew’s Voices (a choir composed of current and formerly homeless individuals) have joined together for a concert where community connects, stories emerge and relationships are formed. This will be a moving experience combining music with the personal stories of some of the choir members. Tickets are $5. More information can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/events/2090390034385546/
Mark your calendars – Soup and Service! What was formerly known as Community Soup is now “Soup and Service!” On the 5th Sunday of the month, Sunday, March 31 after worship, come and share in a meal and fellowship, and hear about one of First Friends’ outreach projects. This month we will discuss Mid-North Food Pantry. If successful we may continue this trend. We will provide the soup. Please join us!
Save the Date – First Friends’ Experiment with Light Retreat! Please mark your calendars for Saturday, May 11, 2019, 9:00am – 4:30pm where First Friends will host this mindful and introspective retreat. The Experiment with Light Retreat draws upon early Quaker practices and contemporary meditation to help people move past intellectual and emotional blocks and encounter the Divine. This retreat will help you have a personal encounter with the Divine that lights the path of your life and animates your life in community. All are welcome to join. Breakfast and Lunch will be included. Keep an eye out in coming months for more information. We hope you will be there!
Save the Date – Comedy with First Friends! Please plan to join us on Thursday, April 18 at 7:00pm for a comedy show outing! It will be at ComedySportz, 721 Massachusetts Avenue. This is a unique competitive Improv show which has been in Indianapolis since 1993. This show is appropriate for all ages, so bring the family! Please keep tuned for more details as we get closer to the event!