James’ Jots: A Rhythmic Life of Worship
When the word “worship” becomes synonymous with the word “singing” on Sunday morning, something is lost. On the opposite end of conceiving worship as specific actions like singing, praying, or listening to a sermon, is the big picture of “a life of worship.” When we think about dedicating our entire lives to God, giving Him “our moments and our days in ceaseless praise” as the old hymn puts it, we are freer to think about how our story intersects with God’s big story of salvation for the world. We can even begin to see our actions as something that contributes to a divine romance so to speak; even a human/divine dance of activity, intimacy, and rest. I recently preached on Psalm 90, a prayer attributed to Moses about how he found wisdom in “numbering his days.” As I write this and in thinking of its connection to this metaphor of a human/divine dance, it seems a fitting reflection that at some point the “music” will stop and this dance will be over. Then the eternal dance with God will begin as we regroup in the resurrection. For now, it seems, we should just enjoy the dance we are called to at present.
The ancients had a way of thinking about the connection between our story and God’s big story, a way of “numbering their days” if you will, or marking out time in the search for a wisdom filled life. They thought of every year as a journey from the foreshadowing of Jesus’ incarnation and birth (Advent and Christmas) and moving toward Jesus’ death and resurrection (Lent and Easter). While we Quakers struggle with what we perceive as “high church forms,” I think we can gain a lot from slowing ourselves down and putting our “moments and our days” back into God’s big story in our sanctified imaginations. While holidays like Epiphany or Ash Wednesday might seem to be huge distractions or “forms” to us with our simple, Quaker perspective on worship, the church year does not have to be something we eye with suspicion. I think we can see it is complementary to our idea that our whole lives can be sacraments. It fits as a way of experiencing our faith in a new dimension, because we are reflecting on our journey with God as a larger rhythm than we are often conscious of. If all of life is a sacrament, then our time is also a sacrament, and there is nothing wrong with marking it out in ways that remind us of God’s big story of redemption. This sets the story in its proper place, as an active drama being lived out even now.
In my worship planning at College Avenue, I have tried to make room for Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter for this very reason. I want to challenge you as we begin another journey through Advent to pay attention to God’s story and its meaning for you. To do yourself a favor and not cut to the end of the story simply because we already know how it ends, but to try to let the “moments” of this Advent season remind you of the slow journey toward Bethlehem, and the One we are to meet there.
God calls us to a rhythmic life of worship. A life of order and discipline that lets the Spirit prune and sanctify us, even sanctify our imaginations and meddling with the desires of our hearts. In the Old Testament, God commanded a series of feasts, fasts, and festivals. There is something about us that requires this sort of divine nudge toward setting apart time to focus on God as a community. While the liturgical year can seem overly complex to us Quakers, it serves this very purpose of marking out space, of carving out some time in our busy lives for God to enter into. This starts with creating a worship space in our own hearts—a space with room enough for God’s big story at work in our lives. This measured approach to life is one of holding ourselves back so that we can once again watch and wait for the Spirit’s movement. May the simplicity that undergirds our Quaker perspective on worship allow us to keep focused on the big story this advent season, the story of love brought into being in the person of Jesus Christ. May we keep Christ at the center—not only of our being—but also at the center of our own stories of living the resurrection life.
White Gift Offering
This year Christian Education selected Mesquakie for the White Gift offering. We will be collecting both money and paper products such as paper plates, cups, napkins, plastic spoons and forks, and toilet paper. At the end of the Christmas program the White Gift offering will be collected.
World Café Summary
As CAF has had two World Cafes over the last few months, two things were obvious. We want to be connected to Penn students and we want to have our younger members get to know our ways and us. That calls for some real commitment in making intergenerational connections that are meaningful. At Monthly Meeting in October, M&C presented six suggested actions we might take as a church. (Please read these in the Minutes in this newsletter.) We want your feedback! We want support for those items you feel will help us grow closer to one another as a church family.
One way to involve the young adults with musical talents who are members of our church is to include them more often in our praise worship perhaps on the fourth Sunday to let them know we value their talents. We will continue with the organ and piano music on the first and third Sunday.
As we gather for worship on Sunday mornings, it is observed that many of our members come in late or gather in the foyer to visit. To offset worship beginning late, it is suggested that we experiment with a morning fellowship time in the fellowship room with coffee and light breakfast type snacks on non-monthly meeting Sundays beginning at 9:15 a.m. This provides all an opportunity to visit before worship and also give Penn students an opportunity to join us. This would replace the fellowship time between church and Sunday school. Thus church would begin at 10 a.m. and SS at 11:10. It might be nice to experiment with this in the winter months of snow, ice, fog and cold.
We all notice when individuals are absent from worship. We want people to know we care. The pastor and M&C cannot do the job alone. Your ideas are welcome on this. Visitors also need to be greeted and made to feel welcome. We need contact information. Why not have friendly people their age volunteer to sit with them and have a first visit memorable small gift? What ideas would you like to contribute to this?
To help us all become more like family, we need to have more regular activities to mix the generations together. For example, we used to have 2 x 4 small groups. What new ways of mixing might we try as we have singles, couples, families, and youth. How would you like to help be a part of planning such activities? We are planning to have a New Year’s Eve party with snacks and games! This is one way. What other type of activities might we try?
Some of our members would like to know their spiritual gifts better and know how they may help the church by serving on committees or being a part of serving in some other way. One way for them to learn their abilities besides taking a spiritual gift survey is to have the nominating committee recognize and encourage their growth by intentionally placing them on committees. We recognize the pastor and Monthly Meeting clerk may be in a better position to help identify the interests of these younger and new members. We just need to ask our youth, young adults, and older new members what are their interests.
Please share your comments and suggestions with any of the M&C committee members who are Mary Thury, Bill Blake, Erin Patterson, Del Coppinger, Mike Fogle and Donna Rucinski.
“The C.A.F.eteria Line”
By Iola Cadwallader
Does anyone find it shocking that if this Newsletter hits the church mailboxes for pickup Sunday, November 30, the next day will be December 1? December! What happened to all those other months? The good news, of course, is that we're not only approaching Christmas now, but we're preparing for it! How?
Well, guess what! For starters, the Penn Choir Christmas Concert is going to open the Season for us on December 6th right here in our church, and while our women are baking up a storm of Christmas Cookies, the Penn singers are wrapping up their gifts of music we'll all be receiving that night! Don't you think they'll like having Cookies, Punch and Coffee afterward? There'll be enough for EVERYBODY, so you be sure YOU come down to Fellowship Hall, too! Oh, and the Choir Director, Anita Meinert, tells us she has the largest group of singers she's had in a long, long time! Don't miss seeing for yourself, when they take the stage at 7:30 pm, Saturday, Dec. 6!
What is it with Christian Ed. Committee who reports to Monthly Meeting-- just enough information about our CAF traditional Christmas Program to make us extremely curious, but totally un-informed. They whet our appetites! It's to be Sunday morning, Dec. 14, yes, and between now and then, something is going to happen that's going to make this one, as always, the "Best Christmas Program Ever!" Don't miss it!
Can't forget all that's been going on among us, looking back. Ron and Sharon Byers take the prize for highest number of grandkids getting married in a few months’ time. They have packed three weddings into their summer and Fall! Take time for a visit with Sharon who knows all of the beautiful details!
In the same vein, isn't it fun having Mark and Nicole Humphrey among us these days, whose wedding bells rang at Mom Caroline's Indiana home farm, with Tom Palmer officiating! To take a peek at the lovely pictures contact Caroline! Nicole is a Dispatcher with Newton Law Enforcement and Mark is an experienced Construction worker, who, by-the-way, was instrumental in the new window installations at CAF. Ask him which ones he did and notice how perfectly they fit!
Most recent was the wedding of Connie Sneller's grandson in Des Moines, uniting Josh and Candie in their Renaissance/Masquerade Theme Wedding, officiated by Connie who was ordained in their former Community of Christ Church. What a huge celebration it was-- the vows familiar and touching, and the atmosphere as colorful and as "Renaissance" as possible, in the year Twenty Thousand Fourteen! Day-to-day, Josh is a Care-giver in a Group Home for handicapped men and boys in Des Moines, and Candie has worked with General Nutrition Co. (GNC) but her gift as a Seamstress is ongoing. Connie is going to have pictures some day, and until then her memory bank is full of that joyous wedding.
Now let's see, what's next? Oh, about those Swim Grandkids now in OHS and Middle School. Both Connor and Karson have ended up on their respective school Student Councils, Connor as Sophomore Class Pres. and Karson as 7th grade Rep. It's kind of rare, don't you think, that a brother and sister attended the IA Student Leadership Conference in Des Moines earlier this school year? Great representatives of the Osky. School System; but another thing, Connor up and earned a Varsity letter in football as a Sophomore, and to top that, he got a spot on the Class 3A All-District Academic football team, District 7. It seems like there's some sort of hidden theme here, like, "If you're going to do it, do it well." So be it!
"Our famous Quaker Men's Soup Supper was a smashing hit again in this community, and word has it that three Penn student members at CAF are getting help from the proceeds for their trip to CA for SUMMIT late December. They are Bailey Hupp, Elias Thury and Lydia Thury. Thanks to the incredible Chefs who worked all day long in the kitchen, the very young Quaker livewires and older youth working the tables along with some ageless volunteers, the pie bakers and servers-- and everyone who came!
An added feature for money-raising was the sale of Liz's melt-in-your-mouth Caramels, 3/$1.00 or 15/$5.00. Bailey Hupp had a "Salesmanship With A Smile" tactic that kept everyone smiling! Without question, a good time was had by all on Soup Supper night!
And that's it for this time, except . . . now that Thanksgiving is past, let's remember our many, many blessings and where they come from . . . and may our Christmas celebrate fully the Holy Birth of Jesus, true Light of the World.
Christmas Greetings may be placed on the south bulletin board in the narthex to share.
Please come and enjoy the Christmas program
December 14th immediately following the service.
New Year’s Eve Celebration
There will be a celebration held at the church on New Year’s Eve beginning at 7:00 p.m. Please bring snacks/finger foods and games to share.