As Way Opens
Last week I finished Nadia Bolz-Weber’s (Lutheran pastor, writer, teacher and national speaker) latest book Shameless - A Sexual Revolution. It is a fascinating account of the church’s discomfort around sex and the teachings that many churches have given us about how the physical realm of the world is evil and the way to a more holy and virtuous relationship with God is one that excludes anything of a physical nature. I certainly heard many teachings growing up about the depravity of man and the importance of denying ourselves of physical pleasure. I am figuring that many of you heard these messages too and they have impacted how we see ourselves and our bodies in negative ways. I never really understood this since the whole point of God’s plan with Jesus was to make him human - flesh and blood with all the human desires, experiences and factors that are wrapped up in our humanity. And Jesus exemplified the idea that God loves us as we are, in all our humanness and through all of our physical experiences. At the last supper, Jesus embraces the body by asking the disciples to eat and drink of his body and blood. The Trinity might be about the total integration of body, spirit and the Divine.
And then there is that book in the Old Testament, Song of Solomon which is a rich and sensual love poem that describes love in the earthiness of ways and completely connects the body and the soul in a communion of spirits. This is usually a book that the church shies away from because of its graphic language. I think this book is all about our human desire and experience and also a metaphor for the love that God has for humanity and our potential for love to God and each other.
I believe that we most often experience God through all of the human touch points that make us human. I love Nadia’s quote in the book that says “Everything that happens to us happens to our bodies. Every act of love, every insult, every moment of pleasure, every interaction with other humans. Every hateful thing we have said or which has been said to us has happened to our bodies. Every kindness, every sorrow. Every ounce of laughter. We carry all of it with us within our skin. We are walking embodiments of our entire story.” (page 152) Why would we try to deny this in our path to God’s fulfillment for our life?
This poem by Ted Thomas Jr is a beautiful testament to the power of our bodies to forgive and express love.
Cold wind. I help my father into the shower with his good hand he grips my arm for support. He sits like Buddha on a plastic stool and waits for me to begin.
I drench him with warm water, soap his head, his back, the flabby stomach, the private parts private no more.
I had not before seen my father’s nakedness, nor the changing contour of his being, his growing helplessness.
His brown skin glistens and I think of him as a young man on the night of my conception;
Panting, capable, shining with sweat and definition, the soft hands of my mother grasping his shoulders.
I pat him dry, he lets me dress him in the white hospital clothes, oil his hair, put him to bed and forgive him.
Joys & Concerns
A Big thank-you to all who helped last week at the pantry! Our volunteers were: Tom F, Dan H, Ray G, Beth F, Kathy and Bill F, Rik L, Kathy R, Christie M, Mara S, and Carol and Jim D. What a great group of volunteers. Thank you!
The Garden Season is in Full Swing! The gardeners have been quite busy preparing their gardens for the season! It is hard work but will prove to pay off come harvest time!
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
Church Picnic and Worship in the Woods! All are invited to join us for our annual worship in the woods and picnic on Sunday, June 2nd. If you have any lawn chairs, please bring them for worship in the woods! For the picnic, if you are able, please bring a dish according to last name; A-L: Salads and sides; M-Z: Desserts. There will also be fried chicken, hot dogs (& veggie dogs), rolls, mac & cheese, baked beans, ice cream, and drinks all provided for free. As usual, we will have a game of kickball afterward (weather permitting). Please join us!
Sunday Unprogrammed Worship Notice ~ For the time being, Unprogrammed Worship on Sunday Mornings at 9:00am will be held in the Seeking Friends room down by the classrooms. If you plan to join us that morning, please note the change in location!
Interfaith Humanitarian Event ~ The Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, OBAT Helpers (a humanitarian organization actively working in the Kutupalong Refugee Camp (the largest refugee camp in the world with more than a million Rohingya refugees)), Muslim Alliance of Indiana, Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation and Beth-El Zedeck want to invite you to break bread with them on May 25, 2019 for an interfaith Iftar (a meal after sunset during Ramadan). The interfaith Iftar is being held to raise awareness and funds for Rohingya refugees who after having fled persecution, violence and genocide in Myanmar, are now settled in the world's largest refugee camp in Bangladesh. OBAT Helpers, an Indianapolis based nonprofit, addressed this humanitarian crisis by providing initial relief to the refugees through distribution of meals and essential items of daily living, followed by continued efforts to rebuild their lives through provision of shelters, education, empowerment opportunities and health care.
Iftar or breaking of the Ramadan fast will take place at 9:01 pm. This evening meal will be preceded by an hour-long program in which you will hear from representatives of the sponsoring organizations and learn about the impact of the Rohingya crisis. Rabbi Glickman and his wife, the keynote speakers, have both been to the camps and have established a community kitchen for the Rohingya people.
Ticket sales go directly to the OBAT Helpers and their programs to help the Rohingya people. We hope that you will join in this inspirational evening to stand with Rohingya refugees. The Iftar will take place at the Jewish Federation on May 25th, 2019. You can register for the event and find additional info here: http://bit.ly/InterfaithIftar2019
Sunday School Reminder ~ Please remember that this upcoming Sunday, May 26, there will be no adult or child 9:00am Sunday School classes throughout the summer until September. Have a wonderful summer!
Make Plans for Memorial Day Weekend! Join us on Sunday, May 26th for Worship in the Big Oval! Memorial Day Sundays are really special at First Friends Meeting – we gather in Fellowship Hall and enjoy our own ‘Indy 500’ experience in the Spirit! Bring your family and friends and join us at 10:15.
Happy Memorial Day! Memorial Day Sunday is an opportunity for us to remember those we love, especially those who have died in service to our country—whether in the military or in non-combat support and care of our troops. In observance of Memorial Day on May 27th, please note that there will be no Monday Meditational Worship as the church/office will be closed that day. We hope you have a good holiday.
Oak Leaf: Meeting for Reading is this coming Tuesday night! Rhonda C will be leading Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver on the 28th of May at 7 pm in the Parlor. Click link for the New York Times Review: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/19/books/review/barbara-kingsolver-unsheltered.html All are welcome!
Come join our merry band of peaceful Weed Warriors! We are planning to meet on May 29 to enhance the beauty of our meditational woods. We will meet from 9-10:30 am to avoid the heat and damaging sun. If the Spirit moves us, we can go out for coffee or tea afterwards. We don't expect you for every one of these dates, but the more the merrier and many hands make light work! Thank you, ~Mindy S and Mary B, co-clerks
Your Talent is Needed! ~ The choir is on vacation May 26 through September 1. Please see the signup sheet on the bulletin board in the hallway to sign up for summer music! We are hoping you will come share your talent with the congregation. Be it with your voice by singing or by playing an instrument. You can even do a reading or a dance! Sign up now for any or several of these dates. Thank you for sharing your God-given gifts!
Mark your Calendars for VBS! We can’t believe summer is already approaching, but we sure are looking forward to Vacation Bible School this year! We will kickoff on Sunday, July 14 after worship and have daily sessions the following Monday through Thursday evenings. This year’s theme is “Roar! Life is Wild, God is Good!”
Meditational Woods Bird of the Month for May
Black-throated Blue Warbler: Changing My Mind
A person changes his mind. It happens, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. This month the “his mind” was mine, as I went through four different choices of birds for May. The first was a cute warbler left over from last May, and it re-appeared this spring. A few days later two other visitors caught my eye, one because of its color, and then another brought to my mind a good story. That being said, however, the big deal had not happened. Big deal? One must understand that in the middle of May there are more species of birds in Indiana than at any other time of the year, as many as 150 species or more! The summering species have arrived, the migrants are passing through at their peak numbers, and some of the wintering cold weather birds have not left yet. I hoped for a day when the woods would be “dripping with warblers,” as birders would put it, but it hasn’t happened as of this writing. What did happen on a morning last week was that I found exactly two warbler individuals. One was of a common species, good, but hardly of bird-of-the-month quality for May. While I was looking at it, I heard a soft, “zhree” two trees behind me. I quickly found this second individual in one of the small conifers. Then I heard the full song, “zhray, zhray, zhree,” and there it was, a Black-throated Blue Warbler in all of his God-given beauty. As one of my favorite birds, it is also one of the rarer warblers to pass through. He spent many minutes inspecting the eye-level bare branches of the conifers for insects and/or their eggs, especially around the lichens and mosses. Perhaps our conifers reminded him of his home up in the North Country. What are the chances that there would be only two migrants here at that moment, one perhaps the most common, and another so unusual? I ended up having a Big Deal Day after all, but in an unexpected way. Yes, I was patient through my changes of the mind, and I hope you will agree with my final choice. ~Brad J
Quaker Haven Camp ~ All youth are invited to attend Quaker Haven Camp this Summer! This year’s theme is keeping Christ “in focus” (Philippians 3:15-16). The camp dates run through June and July. If you are interested in having your children/youth attend Quaker Haven, the Meeting will provide for 50% of the cost! If you’re interested please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org by May 31st! For more information, please visit https://www.qhcyouthprogramming.com!
Stoking the Fire: Stirring up the Embers ~ Friends United Meeting (FUM) invites you to join us as we seek to stir up the embers of our faith, both individually and as a beloved fellowship of Friends. Speakers will include Mary Glazer, Doug Gwyn, Kelly Kellum, Richard Sitati, Katie Ubry-Terrell, and our own Bob Henry! The event will be held from June 7-10 at the Quaker Hill Conference Center in Richmond, IN. The registration deadline is May 31st so don’t delay! For more information or to register, please visit www.friendsunitedmeeting.org/connect/stoking-the-fire-2019
Interfaith Iftar Dinner ~ All are invited to an interfaith dinner hosted by the local Turkish community. It will be held on Saturday, June 1 from 8:30-10:00pm at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 W 86th St. This is an iftar dinner that the Turkish American Community organizes every year in Ramadan. Come and break bread with the Turkish Community and friends from St. Luke's Church. This invitation is open to all. Please RSVP the number of people to email@example.com.
The Indy Pride Parade is next month! The parade begins at 10am along Massachusetts Avenue on Saturday, June 8 and ends with a festival in Military Park that runs from 11am until 11pm. Tickets to the festival are $5 in advance or $10 the day of the festival. If you’d like to come with First Friends, we will meet at the Meetinghouse and carpool there. Stay tuned for more info as we draw closer!
This Week’s Queries
Who are you the most grateful/thankful for, today? Why?
Who do you need to thank or share your gratitude with?