As Way Opens
On Tuesday morning, I had my haircut on the way into the office. The stylist who cut my hair was new to this establishment. She was very talkative with the usual hair salon banter – mostly talk of the weather, how many kids I had, and what I was planning to do today. She had made a joke about it being dangerous cutting my hair so early in the morning, especially after all she had to drink the night before. I laughed but also wondered a bit. She began cutting my hair, and then came the question that I get a bit nervous answering, “So, what do you do for a living?”
I answered as I usually do with a little hesitancy in my voice, “I am a pastor.” Immediately, she stopped cutting my hair and began apologizing for her earlier joke about drinking too much. I said, “No apology necessary” because I had sensed the joking nature. Yet for some reason my proclaiming my profession had completely changed her demeanor. She proceeded to put her scissors down and tell me that she was kicked out of her church when she was a late teen for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. In the mirror, I saw her looking down at the floor as she continued to say, “But that wasn’t the worst part. They made me get up in front of the entire church and apologize.” I devastatingly said, “I am so sorry, and asked if she received any support.” Her response was, “Only judgement and a boot out the door.” She did get a smile on her face when she explained that while in front of the congregation as she apologized she quoted Matthew 7:1-2 (which she still has memorized and spoke not missing a word),
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
The stylist said, it would be almost 20 years before she entered that church again, pointing out that they now have a new pastor who has a different “set of rules.” Clearly, she is rightly uncomfortable at church and much of it has to do with the rules. Just talking about this raised a great deal of angst and anger in her voice. Then she remembered I was a pastor. Without batting an eye, she asked me if my church was like that church. I said, “Thankfully NO.” She laughed and said, “You wouldn’t tell me if it were.” I guaranteed her that it was not.
Sadly, I have heard too many stories just like this over my 20+ years in ministry. Opportunities for the church to be the grace, love, and the forgiveness of Christ, but where instead they chose to cast the first stone. Recently, I and a handful of people from First Friends had the opportunity to hear Nadia Bolz-Webber. Nadia is addressing just these issues in her most recent book, Shameless: A Sexual Reformation. I pulled out my phone and shared with my stylist something that stuck with me that Nadia had said about the church.
“I need a place to confess that I don't have everything figured out. Christianity is not a program for avoiding mistakes; it is a faith of the guilty. There is no "right" or perfect way to be. We learn from our mistakes; we extend grace to others and ourselves…so is grace the antithesis of rejection.” (Bolz-Weber: Shameless)
My stylist smiled and said, “OK, I believe you. Your church is not like mine.” I told her that she was always welcome at our church and I was confident that she knew that. Who do you know that needs the grace, forgiveness, and love of Christ instead of more rejection, today?
Grace and peace,
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
Please note the following Monthly Meeting changes: There will be no Monthly Meeting in April (due to Easter). There will also be a 30-minute delay in the start of Monthly Meeting on May 19 to allow participation in the annual recognition lunch.
Please note that the Meetinghouse will be open on Good Friday, April 19 from noon-3:00pm for anyone who would like to come worship in the Meetingroom. You may choose self-guided worship or unprogrammed worship.
Cloth needed for MNFP ~ The Mid-North Food Pantry is requesting donations of heavier cloth (such as curtains or upholstery fabric). We are trying to have more earth-friendly, reusable bags for food pantry clients. If you have unwanted heavier fabrics that would be suitable for food pantry bags, please put them in the Donation Station Food Pantry bin (located in the northwest corner of Fellowship Hall). The following link has instructions on making fabric bags. If anyone is interested in making bags, please contact Carol D to volunteer, or the office at firstname.lastname@example.org. https://www.freequiltpatterns.info/free-tutorial---fat-sack-by-terry-atkinson.htm. We also need donations of unneeded suitcases with working roller wheels to help transport food for the recipients who carry their food back to their residences. These donations should be put near the Food Pantry Bin. Thanks!
Niagara Abrahamic Traditions Dinner 2019 ~ The Niagara Foundation cordially invites you to the Abrahamic Traditions Dinner. This is an annual event which strengthens friendship and understanding among people of the three Abrahamic religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. A variety of individuals, such as religious leaders, government officials, university professors, and community members, come together to engage in dialogue and honor the importance of religious diversity and inter-religious cooperation. This year the Indianapolis dinner will be held on Saturday, April 6th 6:30-9:00pm at Second Presbyterian Church, 7700 N Meridian St, 46260. This is a free event. Please RSVP at email@example.com.
Come experience interfaith worship with our Affirmation class! On Sunday, April 7 after Meeting for Worship our affirmation group will get the opportunity to see and participate in an Islamic service. All are invited to stop by the Parlor to also experience this service.
Small Group Discussions continue ~ If you weren't able to make it the last session, here is what we will be discussing in our next gathering of each. Contact the office, Bill H, or one of the group leaders with any questions.
Monday April 8th 6:30p at Mary Ellen's led by Mary Ellen L and Deb S
"Unlearning God" by Phil Gulley: chapter 14 Phil's essay "The Truth is Seldom Simple. "
Tuesday April 9th 7:00p at Panera in Fishers led by Jim and Leslie K
Richard Rohr's "Immortal Diamond ": chapter 2-4 on the False Self, What Dies and Who Lives, and the Knife Edge of Experience.
Thursday April 11th 7:00p at First Friends led by Kent F and Ed M
Men's group study on Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning ": 2nd half (through page ~90) of the essay on his story of being in concentration camps
Faith & Community Renewal ~ The Indianapolis Peace & Justice Center invites you to learn more about Eastern Star, a predominantly African-American congregation which is transforming a neighborhood in amazingly progressive ways. As Eastern Star Church prepares to celebrate 100 years of faith & service to the Indianapolis community, the congregation in 2017 began new community development endeavors set to renew our community for the Kingdom through the ROCK Initiative. Come learn how Eastern star church is compelled by the mission and faith to reach out and work to improve the quality of life in the 46218 community. This event is being held at Krannert Hall at the Indiana Interchurch Center, 1100 W 42nd St, Indianapolis, IN 46208 on Thursday, April 11 from 7:00-8:30pm. The cost is free. If you have questions, please call 317-591-5050 ext. 109.
Connecting with Creation
Later this month, various Earth Day activities will occur on or around April 22, 2019. This date gives us Quakers an opportunity to reflect on God’s creation and why it is important for us as God’s children to care for this remarkable Earth.
The data tell us that our climate is changing, that it is human caused and that it is already warming. We may have friends or family dealing with devastating floods in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri or Illinois. My sister in law has been evacuated twice from her home due to the threat of wildfires. We know that scientists are working with farmers as they learn to adapt crops to wetter springs and drought in summer. See Purdue Climate Change Research Center Report…Purdue Climate Change Ag Report
What should we do to care for creation? First, we need to talk about it. Listen to this TED talk by Katherine Hayhoe, climate scientist, mother and committed Christian.
Katherine Hayhoe-TED Talk
What has First Friends been doing? First Friends has been changing to LED bulbs to reduce our electricity demands. Members often car pool to events to reduce their carbon emissions. Many members drive fuel efficient vehicles or bike as often as possible. We have been using fewer disposable paper products for meals together and using china cups instead of Styrofoam for coffee. Others garden together to grow some of their produce locally which reduces long distance impacts of importing food. Others have been sponsoring Eco-Films to help educate the community about environmental concerns.
During the month of April, FF Creation Care Team will explore some ideas with you to help make a brighter future for our children and those impacted by the adverse effects of climate change.
We will post some resources on the website that you can explore and ponder and talk with others about. Watch for a bulletin board where you can share with the First Friends community how creation speaks to you: is it a special place, a sound or watching birds and flowers in the Woods? We will talk about the 4 R’s, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. On May 5, we will have an activity to recycle old T-shirts into shopping bags. Start looking through your old shirts that you’d like to take shopping with you!
Mary B, Kathy F, Beth F
April Eco-Film - A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet is the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement – grassroots and global activism spanning fifty years from conservation to climate change. The film chronicles the largest movement of the 20th century and one of the keys to the 21st. It brings together all the major parts of environmentalism and connects them. It focuses on activism, people fighting to save their homes, their lives, the future – and succeeding against all odds. Please join us for the showing here at First Friends Meeting on Friday, April 12 at 7:00pm. See you there!
Meditational Woods Bird of the Month: March
Red-tailed Hawk: Goliath
Last month I reported seeing a Northern Mockingbird for the first time at the woods. In mid-March, as I was driving by the north entrance to the meetinghouse, I caught a glimpse of the mockingbird atop the awning over the steps. It was displaying the black and white by flashing its wings, and flipping its tail. I assumed it was a male putting on a courtship show for a female. I got out nearby to look for the female, and saw that my assumption was wrong. The large shadow on the pavement below indicated a large bird overhead. As the buteo (hawk) soared for a moment before flying away toward the woods, the reddish undertail told me it was a Red-tailed Hawk. The mockingbird was not doing a courtship display; it was playing David to the hawk’s version of Goliath. Of course, in this case, there were no slings and pebbles, and perhaps with my help, Goliath flew away. This likely means that the mockingbird has staked out a territory, and perhaps we will see him often during the nesting season. Might Goliath return? Perhaps! For now it is an “unresolved resolution,” if the reader will pardon the oxymoron. ~Brad J
Spring Wildflower Hike ~ All are invited to join our very own Norma Wallman, author of Wildflowers of Holliday Park, for a leisurely spring hike at the park to see what’s blooming. Norma began personally documenting wildflowers on walks and has now collected 20 years of data specific to the flowers of Holliday Park. The hike will be on Saturday, April 13 from 10:00-11:30am at Holliday Park, 6363 Spring Mill Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46260. Tickets are $7 per person. Ages 16 and up. For more information or to register, please visit https://apm.activecommunities.com/indyparks/Activity_Search/nature-spring-wildflower-hike-holliday-park/13377.
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! There will be no Threshing Together that night, as the men are encouraged to attend this event. Please RSVP if you plan to attend by emailing the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 317-255-2485.
Garden Work Day ~ If you are a gardener, or interested in helping out in our garden, you are invited to our garden work day which will be held Saturday, April 27 at 9:30am. Anyone is invited, no RSVP needed! We hope to see you there. Also, it’s still not too late to reserve your plot if you’d like a space for the season! Simply contact Nancy or Sam at Sam.email@example.com.
Gathering of Hope ~ First Friends is glad to present our “Gathering of Hope.” This is a gathering for anyone who has experienced any kind of loss in the last year, such as a job loss, relationship loss, pet loss, divorce, etc. We will hold a lunch and a facilitated discussion on loss and grief. If you’d like to attend, please RSVP with the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-255-2485.
Save the Date: Shalom Zone’s 5th Tuesday Event ~ The next 5th Tuesday event sponsored by the Shalom Zone churches will be Tuesday, April 30 at 7:00pm at Epworth United Methodist Church, 6450 Allisonville Rd, 46220. The topic will be Healthcare and Human Rights. Our speaker will be Fran Quigley, a clinical professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, where he directs the Health and Human Rights Clinic. He also edits the weekly publication, Faith in Healthcare, www.faithinhealthcare.org, and coordinates the non-profit advocacy group of the same name. This is a free event and all are invited to attend. We hope to see you there!
First Friends’ Experiment with Light Retreat – Registration Now Open! 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. If you’d like to register, please visit https://goo.gl/forms/oo2Zb4L4UL6kL9jH3. We hope you will be there!