Many of you are familiar with the Quaker custom of beginning a meal with a silent grace. A non-Quaker youth was invited for a meal in a Quaker household. The youngster was not familiar with Quaker practice of silent preparation for dinner. He later related this story: "There was this embarrassing silence when we first sat down at the table, and nobody knew what to say, and everybody looked down, so I told a funny story and that seemed to break the ice!"
I want to talk with you about silence. The season of Lent is a time to listen to God and silence is essential for this. Unfortunately, silence is a rare commodity these days so we do not deal with it much better than that young man. The TV blathers on with continual chit-chat and drama – even when we´re working. When I visit people in the hospital or home they rarely turn off the TV. People take their iPods to the beach so that they do not have to live in the silence between the gentle waves.
Obviously we don´t understand the benefit of silence. Sometimes I see the "silence" which comes from an inability to communicate. Other times I see the "silence" which is a hurtful acting-out of anger or pain. Nearly fifty years ago Paul Simon, after the assassination of President Kennedy, wrote his plaintive cry over our inability to communicate:
"And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
‘Fools,´ said I, ‘you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows...´"
In contrast, we hear the words of the Psalmist: "Be still (silent) and know that I am God." Even the late Mother Teresa observed, "God rarely is found in the midst of noise and restlessness; instead, [God] is the friend of silence." And Jesus, when caught in the midst of demanding crowds, often retreated to the quiet of the wilderness.
Richard Nixon, himself a Quaker, remembered learning about silence. "When I was eight or nine years old," he said, "I asked my grandmother, a very saintly woman, a little Quaker lady, who had nine children – I asked her why it was that Quakers believed in silent prayer.
"When we sat down to the table, we always had silent prayers; and at church... we often just went there and just sat, and we prayed. My grandmother spoke to me on this occasion, saying, "What thee must understand, Richard, is that the purpose of prayer is to listen to God, not to talk to God. The purpose of prayer is not to tell God what thee wants, but to find out from God what (God) wants from thee."
Is it possible for you and me to experience silence? Can we quiet our internal dialogues, rationalizations, excuses, and drivenness? If so, God may have a word for us this Lent!
PS – Remember the Cuba Mission Team breakfast burrito benefit this Sunday following both services.
PPS – You may still sign up for a Lenten Study Group using the online sign-up sheet.
PPPS – If you have an item for the Palm Sunday Youth Auction, contact Sami Marasigan or use the sign-up sheet.
• February 24, 10:00 am and 12:00 pm — Breakfast Burrito Benefit for Cuba Mission Team
• February 24, 6:00 pm — "Trade of Innocents" movie
• March 6, 7:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayers
• March 16, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: The Dave Collee Quartet
• March 24, 9:30 am - 1:00 pm — Youth Auction and Brunch
• March 25, 3:00 - 7:00 pm — Blood Drive
• March 28, 7:00 pm — Maunday Thursday Service
• March 29, 12:00 pm — Community Good Friday Service (Central Reformed Church)
• March 29, 7:00 pm — Good Friday Service
• March 31, 9:15 and 11:00 am — Easter Sunday
• April 3, 7:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayers
• April 10, 12:00 pm — Sweetheart Luncheon
COLLECTIONS Did you realize how many ways you can contribute? The following are some programs through which you can help. Donation bins are located in the north lobby donation drop-off room.
• Batteries – In order to keep batteries out of the landfills, we recycle them.
• Box Tops for Education – Clip logo on General Mills products. Money is used for MLK PTA.
• Campbell Product Labels – Clip barcode with logo and point value to earn money for MLK.
• Food Collection – First and third Sundays, food is collected to supply our area food pantry at Westminster Church.
• Glasses and Hearing Aids – A cooperative effort of the Kiwanis and Lions Clubs to make certain that these reconditioned items go to people who are in great need.
• Ink Jet Cartridges – Earn money for youth scholarships.
• In the Image – Leave clean, gently used clothing in bags for In the Image. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Academy (MLK) earns money for scrap clothing and shoes. These items must be bagged separately and labeled "Scrap."
• MLK Donations – School supplies and clothing for MLK students.
• Pop Cans – Deposits are used for Lake Michigan United Methodist Camp scholarships.
• Pop Tabs – Earn money for MLK.
• Safe Haven – Used cell phones.
• School Spirit Labels – Clip the UPC and School Spirit logo off the bottom of Aunt Millie´s Bread bags. MLK earns 5 cents for each UPC/logo. Included products are Soft ‘N Good, Sunbeam Giant, Family or Whole Grain White Bread.
• Spartan Product UPC Labels – Earn money for MLK. Clip barcode.
• Travel Size Soap, Shampoo, Toothbrushes, etc. – for MLK students to be used at Camp O´Malley.
MOMS GROUP: MOMS NIGHT OUT Join us at On the Border on Monday, March 11 at 5:30 pm. Leave the kids at home and enjoy a dinner out! Please meet us at On the Border – 3195 28th Street SE (in front of Woodland Mall). RSVP to Sami at email@example.com.
SAVE THE DATE - ANNUAL SWEETHEART LUNCHEON will be Wednesday, April 10 at 12:00 pm in Wesley Hall for all women age 65 and older.
UPCOMING BAPTISM DATE will be March 17. If you´d like to schedule a baptism, contact Mary Molhoek at 451.2879.
CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS 2013 A big "thank you" to all our Celebration 2013 volunteers! From Celebration Committee members and staff, to hosts, art pick-up monitors and cookie bakers, each of you contributed your time and talents to make our 40th annual art show a wonderful success. Our People´s Choice Selection is "The Path Changer," by George Peebles. This piece is in Wesley Hall for everyone to enjoy.
MISSION COMMISSION NEWS Sunday, February 24, 10:00 - 11:00 am and 12:00 pm in Wesley Hall: Breakfast Burrito Benefit for Cuba Mission Team. Support this year´s Cuba Mission Team by purchasing breakfast after either of the worship services. T-shirts will also be for sale. All proceeds support the March 31st trip to Herradura, Cuba. Team members are: Betty DeVinney, Lydia DeVinney, Nick Polzin, Dana Rector, Mark Rector, Braylon Taylor, Erin Taylor, Lane Taylor, Trent Taylor, Wendy Taylor (team leader), Jackson Wierenga.
DO YOU HAVE A TIMESHARE? Would you consider allowing our youth to auction off some time at your timeshare for our Youth Auction on March 24? Do you have MSU or U of M football season passes? Consider giving a pair to the youth auction. Email Sami at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROAD TRIP TO CHICAGO Join us on Thursday, July 11 for a road trip to Chicago! We´ll depart church at 7:15 am and travel on a deluxe motor coach. Upon arrival, we´ll take a 90-minute narrated boat tour and learn about the architecture and history of Chicago. After lunch, we´ll see the fabulous world premiere of "The Jungle Book," a musical at the Goodman Theatre. We´ll leave Chicago after the musical and have dinner together at Cracker Barrel in Stevensville before arriving back at the church by 10:00 pm. Pick up a form in the north lobby rack or click here for more detailed information and to reserve a place on this special day trip!
YOU ARE INVITED TO PICK UP A LENTEN DEVOTIONAL from the north lobby, narthex, or one of the entrances of the sanctuary. The sermon title and scripture for each Sunday during Lent is also included. This daily devotional will enrich your life and enable you to engage in the daily discipline of scripture, inspirational reading, and prayer. Each devotion in the booklet has been written with care and love by an adult or youth from First Church.
MLK TUTORING FUNDRAISER Shop D&W Fresh Market and Family Fare Stores February 24-March 2. The CASH for CLASS fundraisers have new format, but you must register for the Spartan/D&W/Family Fare YES card, then during specific promotional periods, when your YES card is swiped, MLK automatically benefits. Go to www.myyesrewards.com, create an account and link our school CODE 89389.
"TRADE OF INNOCENTS" MOVIE You´re invited to the screening of the movie "Trade of Innocents," this Sunday, February 24 at 6:00 pm in the sanctuary. Parallel story lines intertwine and unfold twists against the backdrop of the dangerous human trafficking world in a story of struggle, life, hope and redemption in the "Trade of Innocents." Movie rated PG-13. Ticket Sales: $5 (pre-purchase at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/trade) or $8 (at the door). All profits raised from movie showing will benefit Women at Risk´s 911 fund, a way to send help directly to rescuers bringing women and children out of human trafficking. Youth groups, college groups, and individuals are invited to join us for discussion following the movie.
PRAYER QUILTERS We will be meeting on Thursday, March 7 from 9:00 am to noon in Wesley Hall. All are welcome. It´s a great opportunity to be a part of this worthy mission, meet new people, and to learn about quilting. No experience is needed. There is a job for everyone. For more information contact Ginnie Edwardson at 261.2602 or email@example.com.
MEN´S LENTEN BREAKFASTS 2013"How My Mind Has Changed." Join us on Fridays through March 22 at 7:00 am in Wesley Hall. Upcoming schedule: March 1 — Dr. Robert Hundley, Lansing DS; March 8 — Rev. Sean Kidd, Pokagon UMC; March 15 — Rev. David Nellist, Trinity UMC; and March 22 — Rev. Steve Charnley, Greenville UMC.
WOMEN OF FIRST LENTEN STUDY: "WATCH AND PRAY" Join us on Wednesdays through March 20 from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in Wesley Hall. Bring your own lunch! In the Judaism of Jesus´ day, prayer was experienced in many forms and formats of community. These practices of prayer continue and have been added to in contemporary Judaism, particularly among the Orthodox. Prayer was and remains an integral part of what it means to be Jewish. This Lent we will explore various kinds of prayer and what it means to have a deep prayer life as Jesus did. Upcoming schedule is February 27 — Teach Us to Pray, March 6 — It Is Right to Give Our Thanks and Praise, March 13 — Give Us This Day, and March 20 — How Long, O Lord?
FIRST AID STATION
BLOOD DRIVE Receive a $10 Meijer gift card when you register to donate at our blood drive on Monday, March 25! Appointments are preferred, so sign up now for a time between 3:00 - 7:00 pm that works best for you. Unable to donate blood? Homemade cookies are needed, too. Give a little of your time and a little of your blood and help save a life! Questions? Contact Marj Timmerman at 901.9224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOSPITALIZATIONS Are you or a family member hospitalized or having surgery? Due to strict hospital privacy rules, we won´t know unless you tell us! Each day of the week, pastoral care is covered by our parish nurse or one of our pastors who are happy to visit and pray with you before your surgery or during your hospital stay. If you don´t want your name mentioned in the Weekly Pulse or in Sunday services, please let us know. However, we would still like to visit and support you, even if it´s an outpatient procedure. Please contact Parish Nurse Marj Timmerman, Pastor Gary or Pastor Tish at 451.2879.