Our theme is Holy Vessels: A Lenten Season of Recovery. The premise is that we are holy vessels created to embody love. But we have been broken (especially this past year) — in body, mind, and spirit — like a bottle fractured into pieces, but pieces that time and the ocean somehow make beautiful.
The hope is that Lent will be a season of recovery as we explore healing stories of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew. These stories can remind us that the God we meet in Jesus will help us make something beautiful from that which seems hopelessly shattered.
Beach glass will be a visual image throughout Lent to represent this process of transformation.
Perhaps it is a symbol of our brokenness that — at least for February, and possibly beyond — our respect for each other’s health will keep us from meeting in person. But we hope you will join us (if not at 1507 Glendale, then at fccvalpo.org) for these services:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
We will name our brokenness and claim Jesus’ promise to be with us and to help us.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21
Matthew 8:1-4, 16-17
Jesus chooses to heal a leper. We will rejoice that Jesus also chooses to heal and love us.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28
Jesus re-envisions the family of God by healing the servant of a Roman centurion. We will rejoice that Jesus calls us to help in healing more than our own.
SUNDAY, MARCH 7
Matthew 9:27-33, John 8:1-11
Jesus heals not just physically, but mentally (in this case, both the blind and the demon possessed). We will rejoice that Jesus cares about our mental health.
SUNDAY, MARCH 14
Jesus calms a storm. We will rejoice that Jesus helps us live in peace with our environment.
SUNDAY, MARCH 21
Jesus restores a woman to community who had been shunned because of her hemorrhages.
This Sunday will be unique. The sermon will use “The Man of La Mancha” as a parable for our Lord’s ability to reach the least and the lost, and show them they, too, are beloved children of God.
SUNDAY, MARCH 28
Jesus heals AND forgives a paralyzed man. We will rejoice that God’s love willingly paid the price to ultimately defeat both our ills and our sins.
EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 4
Our resurrected Lord, having defeated death, commissions the disciples (and us) to continue his ministry of healing.
Letter & Survey to the Congregation
By now you have probably received a letter and survey in the mail asking you to mark the five qualities most important to you in our next senior pastor, along with any advice you would like to give the search team that you feel would help us in our search. Also included in the mailing was a pre-addressed and stamped envelope for the convenient return of your survey.
Please prayerfully consider your choices and return the survey as soon as possible. Your input is important to us, as are your prayers for the team as we seek God’s will for our church.
Thank you for your prayers
and your feedback!
Cheryl Girman, David Gow,
Stephen Howell, Mickey Koehler,
Ruth Lang, Leslie Maxwell,
Doug Ross & John Springsteen
You may have heard that Intermittent Fasting is the latest new diet craze. As Christians, we know that fasting has historical roots in our religion as well as other religions practiced around the world. Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness. During the time of Lent, I will be leading a small group via Zoom exploring these two versions of fasting. Fasting is not required, but it is something that participants should have interest in learning more about and trying. Don’t worry! You don’t have to go 24 hours without food! We will be looking at models such as the 16/8 fast, 5:2 fasting, OMAD, the Daniel Fast, and more.
My plan is to spend 30 to 45 minutes weekly as a group learning about this. Each session will include 10-15 minutes on the religious significance of fasting; then 10-15 minutes on the health benefits of fasting and different models of fasting.
Finally, we will spend 10-15 minutes sharing our experiences as we discuss the challenges and successes we have experienced each week with the ideas we tried. If you’d like to participate in this study, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org on or before February 8th.
Please use the subject: Fast Study (If we all use the same subject, I can easily search that subject and find all who responded.) On February 9th, I will email out the Zoom link to those who are interested.
Zoom times will be: 7:00-7:45 PM
Session 1: Wednesday, 2/10 Introduction
Session 2: Wednesday, 2/17
Ash Wednesday Watch Party
Session 3: Wednesday, 2/24
Session 4: Wednesday, 3/3
Session 5: Wednesday, 3/10
Session 6: Tuesday, 3/16
(I can’t meet on
Wednesday this week.)
Session 7: Wednesday, 3/24
Session 8: Wednesday, 3/31
I have the following books and will present information from them each week. (You will not need to purchase these to participate, but these are the books I will be using and referencing throughout this study. You may want to purchase ones that interest you after the sessions for further reading.)
Fasting by Jentezen Franklin;
The Daniel Fast by Susan Gregory; Delay, Don’t Deny by Gin Stephens;
Fast. Feast. Repeat. by Gin Stephens; The Obesity Code by
Jason Fung, M.D.;
The Fast-5 by Bert Herring;
The Fast Diet by Dr. Michael Moseley and Mimi Spencer
Hope to see you on Zoom!
Important Office News
This is to let you know that I’ll be having a complete right shoulder replacement on Monday, February 1st. While my “wing is in a sling” for the following six weeks, life will be interesting. (I’m right-handed, of course.) After three weeks or so, I still won’t be able to drive to the office, but I will hopefully be able to do some work from home.
If you have church business, please call the office before you plan your trip to the church to make sure someone is there. Some duties will be covered by others, such as mailing sermons to our homebound and sorting the mail.
Please email or text Kathy Light with prayer requests the first two weeks. After that you can email me or text me, and I can send out the requests from home.
If you call the office, please leave a voice mail message and someone will call you back. My cell number is 406-7925. Prayers are appreciated.
Much love and gratitude,
My favorite story about the late, great evangelist, Billy Graham was one he told on himself. It seems he was once in a small town and asked a boy how to get to the post office. After getting directions, Rev. Graham invited the kid to his Crusade that evening. He said, “I’m going to be telling everyone how to get to heaven!”
The kid responded, “I don’t think I’ll be there. You don’t even know how to get to the post office.”
My favorite Billy Graham sermon, however, is one he preached at the memorial service President Bush hosted after the 9/11 attacks. I looked it up on the internet because I remember it being just the right word for a nation facing hard times, doubt and fear.
Graham said, “This event reminds us of the brevity … and uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called to eternity.” He didn’t offer a theological explanation for suffering (“theodicy” is the highfalutin word for such efforts). But he did say God understands our distress and promises it will not have the final word.
The torturous execution and resur-rection at Christianity’s center enabled Rev. Graham to proclaim, “On the cross, God declares ‘I love you. I know the heartaches and the sorrows and the pain that you feel.’ But the story does not end with the cross. Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life for Christ has conquered evil and death and hell. Yes, there IS hope!”
Graham went on to invite us to choose between (1.) believing our lives have no larger purpose, and extend no further than the grave; OR (2.) believing that we are a precious and important part of God’s plan, and our future is safely held in God’s hand.
Neither is objectively provable, and neither dulls (let alone erases) the pain. But only the latter offers hope and meaning. Graham ended by quoting the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation”:
Fear not, I am with thee.
O, be not dismayed, for I am thy God,
and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee,
and cause thee to stand,
upheld by my righteous,
Council Meets on Zoom, February 21
Incoming Council President Doug Ross is proposing we try a Council Meeting using FCC’s Zoom account on Sunday, February 21st at 11:00 a.m. Call him at (219) 307-2915 with your thoughts.
If we do it, council members will get the link/invitation. Other church members are welcome to join on a non-voting basis, but will need to call the church office and tell us you’d like to be included.
2021 Family Directories
It’s time to update the FCC Family Directory for 2021. If any of your information has changed recently (address, phones, email), please let the office know via email, letter, phone call, or text so that your information can be listed correctly in the new directory.
If you have a family member away at college or in the military, please send us their address so they can also be listed in the directory to receive cards and the always-appreciated news from home in the monthly Bell Tower.
Co-ed Noon Bible Study, Wednesdays
Thanks to (what else?) Covid, we’re on hiatus for now, but we’ll come roaring back as soon as Indiana opens up and the virus gives way as all evil things must. For now, just curl up with THE Good Book, possibly guided by the devotional described below. n
We will again offer a devotional by the Society of St. Andrew for the upcoming season. As we step into Lent 2021, chastened by nearly a year of living with and through the Coronavirus pandemic, the theme of this year’s devotions may seem a bit strange—”Walk Humbly.” It comes from the Old Testament prophet Micah: God has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
This theme calls us to practice self-examination, confession and repentance of our own sins. Micah was a prophet who spoke out for the poor and downtrodden. He protected them and shared God’s words with them. In light of the high unemploy-ment, increased hunger, and world-wide racial division exacerbated by the pandemic, take time to feed your spirit and ask, what is the Lord requiring of you?
The devotionals can be picked up at the church office, or from the small mailbox attached to the education wing (building “B”), or just call us and we will happily mail you one (462-5615).
Week of Compassion
Let Love Flow Special Offering
February 21st & 28th
Since last year, our world has seen significant change and experienced much suffering. Record-breaking fires on the West Coast of the U.S. devastated communities and burned millions of acres. An extremely active hurricane season brought destruction to the Gulf Coast. A massive explosion in Beirut displaced thousands of individuals. And all of those events were compounded by a global pandemic. We are living in a time of great uncertainty. And yet, even with so much that is unclear about the future, one thing is certain: through this ministry of our wider Church, your compassion is at work.
Even during a pandemic, disasters continue to happen. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted every area of our personal and communal lives. In the same way, it also touched every area of the work of Week of Compassion through sustainable development, disaster relief, and refugee support. Because of your faithfulness, in 2020 alone, Week of Compassion provided nearly $3 million for responses all over the world. With so many in need, your loving support is more important than ever.
The reality is that 2021 will bring many of the same challenges, as well as some new ones. Disasters will continue to occur. Displaced populations remain vulnerable. And hundreds of millions of people around the world struggle under the weight of poverty. But thanks to you, Week of Compassion will continue to respond. Events of the past year have shown us: even in times when we cannot be physically together in one place, our offerings in support of the Week of Compassion continue to strengthen the church’s presence all over the world: providing water to the thirsty, food for the hungry, and hope for the weary.
When you share your gifts to Week of Compassion, you “Let Love Flow.” Your generosity ensures that, even in the midst of uncertainty, the transforming power of compassion continues to change the world.
With much gratitude,
Your Week of
For Indoor Days
When you have to stay home for a stretch, your days might start to feel ho-hum. To help your brain stay active, one key is to find new and fun things to do with your indoor time. A few ideas:
Show Your Artistic Side.
You might enjoy sketching or painting. Adult coloring books are fun for beginners and pros.
How about building models, scrapbooking, or trying a new craft kit from Michael’s?
Tell Your Story.
Pen a poem, a song, or story; or reflect in a daily journal. You might even try writing your memoirs.
Listen to podcasts. (They’re talk shows that you download to your computer or mobile device.) Look for podcasts on everything from crime drama to history to gardening.
Tend an Herb Garden.
Many herbs may be grown indoors year-round.
Be a Virtual Volunteer.
Get behind a cause from your computer or phone.
Submitted by George Armstrong from an AARP newsletter.
February 10 1:30 – 6:30
Our next Red Cross Blood Drive will be Wednesday, February 10th, from 1:30 to 6:30 PM. Call (800) 733-2767 to make an appointment. (This is recommended and decreases waiting, though walk-ins are ALWAYS welcome!) During the COVID-19 pandemic, as you might imagine, shortages are a common occurrence. Donations have been down lately so come, donate blood and save someone’s life!! n
While best known for beads, parties, parades and costumes, Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) actually has religious origins. The Latin root of the word “carnival” is carne vale, which means “farewell to meat” — referring to the upcoming 40-day fast of Lent that, for some Christians (especially Catholics), begins on Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday was when such folks would eat all the soon-to-be-forbidden food left at home, and thus be free of temptation. (That bag of M&Ms? Eating it became a religious duty.)
Fat Tuesday is also the last day of the season of Epiphany during which we celebrate — not just the wise men who recognized it first — but the revelation to us all of God in Jesus.
And finally, Mardi Gras has at least some roots in ancient pagan celebra-tions of spring and fertility such as Saturnalia and Lupercalia. Christian leaders wanted to “baptize” these feast days by giving them a Christian spin (which worked well) and making them a little less raunchy (which worked not-as-well: just ask Rio and New Orleans).
Add it all up, and the week before the somber seriousness of Ash Wednesday and Lent is a great time for the church to rejoice, dance, and laugh. That’s our excuse for having a humor Sunday on February 14. Some of our members will tell jokes, Rev. Dave will explore laughter in the Bible, and the choir will offer a joyful anthem called “Happy Rhythm.” Enjoy the service with us that day or shortly thereafter by going to fccvalpo.org and tapping the YouTube link in the upper right corner!