"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1
Last October I planted tulip bulbs in our yard. I learned to perform this simple act of faith and hope while living out near the lakeshore in Holland. Have you ever planted bulbs before? They don´t look like much. They have a tear-drop shape and are a dull straw color. You plant them in a dark, cold, deep hole in the ground, cover them over with dirt, and then you wait. You wait a long time – months in fact, and just when you think nothing is ever going to happen, something happens!
It´s the waiting that is the hardest part for me. I love to garden and take great satisfaction in spending a few hours in the spring clearing away the debris of winter, turning up the soil and popping in pockets and swaths of bright, cheery annuals. In a very short amount of time, a great transformation can take place. What was dreary and dull is quickly refreshed and brightened.
I have found over the years that the development of our spiritual life is more like planting tulip bulbs than like planting annuals. To be sure, there are moments of instant brightness – a moving worship service, a grace-filled encounter. More often, however, the journey is one of patient dedication and faithful waiting. It takes time to develop the disciplines of a rich and meaningful spiritual life.
John Wesley, Methodism´s founder, believed that we needed help with our journey – and he was right! To help believers stay the course, he formed people into small groups that gathered together weekly to keep track of one another. At these meetings each person was asked, ‘How is it with your soul?´ This question, asked in love, was sometimes a painful one to answer. Life is busy. We are easily distracted by the needs of our families, the demands of our jobs, and the pleasures we crave. Before you know it, and certainly without meaning for it to happen, our relationship with God gets put on the back burner (or maybe out on the breezeway where we can´t even see it!).
In the long months of winter, while waiting for my tulip bulbs to emerge from the cold, dark earth, I find the waiting easier if I continue to make plans for my summer garden. I look at seed catalogs, I read gardening books and magazines, and I talk to my gardener friends (actually we moan together about the wait!), and before I know it, the time is right and my waiting pays off.
In the face of our weakness and the barren stretches, we need one another. We need to gather each week, faithfully, in worship. We need to encourage one another in prayer and scripture reading. We need to celebrate every hopeful act of outreach. We need to ask one another, "How is it with your soul?" Together we can wait in hope for the tulip bulbs of our faith to come into full bloom. I´ll see you on Sunday!
P.S. Be sure to mark your calendar for the Palm Sunday Youth Auction and Brunch. All funds raised will go toward their upcoming work camp.
P.P.S. Save a Life! Give Blood. Monday March 25, 3:00-7:00pm in Wesley Hall.
P.P.P.S. Have you seen the great road trips lined up for this year? Hop online and sign up for a Tigers baseball game, a day trip to Chicago, and a Nashville trip.
• March 16, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: The Dave Collee Quartet
• March 17, 12:00 pm — Tower Campaign Informational Coffee
• March 18, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• March 20, 8:00 am — Caring Connection
• 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 — Maundy Thursday Service
• March 29 — Church Building & Offices Closed till 6:00 pm for Good Friday
• 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
• April 15, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• April 17, 8:00 am — Caring Connection
• April 20, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: Randy Marsh
• April 20, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm — 2nd Best Sale
• April 21, 10:00 am — Tower Campaign Informational Coffee
• April 21, 3:00 pm — Words of Albert Schweitzer and the Music of Bach
• May 15, 8:00 am — Caring Connection
• May 20, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• June 10, 3:00 - 7:00 pm — Blood Drive
• June 17, 12:00 pm — 60+ Luncheon
• June 19, 8:00 am — Caring Connection
CARING CONNECTION The next meeting is on Wednesday, March 20 at 8:00 am at New Beginnings Restaurant (1455 Michigan St NE). We welcome anyone who would like to participate in caring for our homebound with phone calls, note-writing, and visits.
CHARGE CONFERENCE will be held during the Leadership Council meeting on Monday, March 25, for the sole purpose of approving the salary of incoming pastor Bob Hundley.
PARENTS AND YOUTH Spring sign-ups for serving in children´s church school are ready on Doodle! Go to www.grandrapidsfumc.org/volunteers to sign up to serve in the Infant or Toddler Nurserys and Children & Worship classrooms! Volunteers are especially needed on Easter Sunday. Thank you for supporting our church school.
TECHNOLOGY RECYCLING EVENT Comprenew® will have a drop-off trailer in our parking lot Saturday and Sunday, March 23 - 24. Most any item with a cord or battery will be accepted at no charge and computer hard drives will be wiped or destroyed. A partial list of our acceptable items follows: computers (working/non-working/parts/accessories), printers/scanners/fax, cell phones/PDAs/iPods/MP3 players, VCRs/DVD players, radios/stereos/CD players, microwaves, miscellaneous electronics, and televisions. Comprenew cannot accept refrigerators, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, or large appliances.
ANNUAL SWEETHEART LUNCHEON will be held on Wednesday, April 10 at 12:00 pm in Wesley Hall. All women of the church age 65 and over are welcome to attend this event sponsored by the Legacy Ministry. This year´s entertainment is provided by Dale and Gail Ziegler and their "Keyboard Kapers." For reservations use the Sunday sign-up sheet or contact Sharon Sorensen at 451.2879 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRAYER TASK FORCE is being formed to incorporate various means of prayer in our congregational life for two upcoming major events: The Tower Campaign and Project and the transition of Senior Pastor. It is a short-term assignment and if you are interested in participating please use the Sunday sign-up sheet, see Patsy at the communion rail, or email her at email@example.com. Our first meeting is Monday, March 25 at 6:00 pm.
GOOD FRIDAY HOURS The church building and First Place will be closed Friday, March 29 for the Good Friday holiday. The church building will open at 6:00 pm for the annual Good Friday Service at 7:00 pm.
60+ LUNCHEON will be held on Monday, March 18 at noon. The program will be a spring concert by the Calder City Concert Band. Contact Elaine Youngs at 735.5506 or Luci Baer at 457.7797 to make your a reservation.
JAZZ VESPERS, featuring The Dave Collee Quartet, on Saturday, March 16 at 6:00 pm weaves scripture, a pastoral message and prayer into a celebration of faith, hope, and the love of God. Please join us!
TOWER COFFEE Join us Sunday, March 17 after 11:00 am worship or Sunday, April 21 after 9:15 am worhip in Wesley Hall for the Tower Campaign Informational Coffee.
FUMC GALLERY Showing in our First Church Art Gallery from March 20 – April 30 is an exhibit by local watercolor artist, Barb Thorne. A frequent participant in the FUMC Celebration of the Arts, Barb has most recently exhibited at Schuler Bookstore.
HOLY WEEK EVENTS
PALM SUNDAY SERVICES, BRUNCH, AND YOUTH AUCTION Services will be held Sunday, March 24 at 9:15 and 11:00 am. The youth will also be waking early to make you brunch. There will be pancakes, sausage, eggs, and fruit. All are invited for brunch at 10:00 am and 12:00 pm in Wesley Hall. Suggested donation: $5/person or $20/family. While enjoying your brunch, stay for the Youth Auction. The silent auction will run from 9:30 am - 1:00 pm and the live auction begins at 12:30 pm. We are auctioning off gift cards, desserts, vacation destinations, services & more. For a sneak peak of items, visit: www.grandrapidsfumc.org/auction. New this year - ‘buy it now´ option on select items. The auction and brunch are a fundraiser for our summer workcamp.
PALM SUNDAY PROCESSIONALWe will celebrate this special Sunday with a palm procession at both worship services! Parents are asked to bring their children 3 year olds – 6th grade to the corridor on the west side of Wesley Hall 10 minutes prior to the start of the worship services. Please see the schedule below: • 9:05 am — 3 yr olds - grade 6 West Corridor by Wesley Hall (Following Moments with the Children, children will be excused to their classrooms.) • 10:50 am — 3 yr olds - grade 6 West Corridor by Wesley Hall (Following Moments with the Children, 3 yr. olds - 2nd grade will be excused to their classrooms. 3rd – 6th Graders will remain in worship with their families.) NO Evening Choristers, Kids´ Club or Youth Groups
MAUNDY THURSDAY SERVICE All are welcome to this unique Tenebrae service on Thursday, March 28 at 7:00 pm. Child care provided.
FIRST CHURCH GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE Join us Friday, March 29 at 7:00 pm for this contemplative service. Child care provided.
IDENTICAL EASTER SUNDAY SERVICES will be held in the celebration of Easter Sunday, March 31 at 9:15 and 11:00 am. Join us for a continental breakfast in Wesley Hall from 10:00 - 11:00 am.
On EASTER SUNDAY, MARCH 31 9:30 Faith Travelers, Youth, and Adult Classes will not be held on Easter Sunday as we encourage families to attend worship together.Children´s nurseries and classes available on Easter are as follows: 9:15 am and 11:00 am
• Infant Nursery 0-2 yr. olds Room 107
• Toddler Nursery 2 yr. olds-younger 3 yr. olds Room 205
• Children & Worship older 3 yr. olds-kindergarten Room 204/201
• Junior Church grades 1 – 2 Room 202 NO Evening Choristers, Kids´ Club or Youth Groups
Concerns & Prayers for:
• Beth Colvin
• Kathy Crawford
• Abby Greer
• Allison Grifhorst
• Roy Hart
• Rick Kase
• Norma Mann
• Pat Newell (Meijer Heart)
• Anne Zimmerman
• Nancy & Bob Gillette (Nicaragua 3/7-17)
• Chris Bolhouse
• Scott Grifhorst
• Stephan Mathos
• Jesse Mounts
• Trevor Norton
• Shawn Seher
• Peter Taylor, Jr
What a delightful surprise to receive the beautiful prayer quilt and the many prayers that were said. I thank you for your cards and concerns. I shall treasure the quilt forever!
Blessings, Norma Mann
Thank you so much to the wonderful First Church members for their cards, prayers and concerns for my husband during his hip surgery and recovery.
Blessings, Fran Sherman
First Church Congregation,
Thank you all so much for your prayers and concerns for my recent illnesses and my major move. Since I can´t drive again, I really appreciate all of you who have given me transportation to health and church events. You´ve made my life easier. Other than memory losses, I am doing much better. God has been good to me! Thank you all so much!
Love, Mary Ross
MEALS NEEDED! Chuck and Anne Zimmerman live on the SE side of Grand Rapids and would appreciate meals on Mondays and Wednesdays. Sign up online at www.TakeThemAMeal.com, or contact Marj at 901-9224. Meals do not need to be fancy.
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.
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 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 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
POWERFUL TOOLS FOR CAREGIVERS is a six-week course designed to provide participants with tools to meet their own needs as they care for others, presented by Clark Retirement Community for free. Classes are held on Tuesdays from 1:00 - 2:30 pm. Classes are held March 12 - April 16 (Franklin Campus), May 7 - June 11 (Clark on Keller Lake), and September 24 - October 29 (Clark on Keller Lake). Call 452.1568 to register.
INFERTILITY SUPPORT GROUP All who have experienced infertility issues, including miscarriage and secondary infertility, are invited to attend our next meeting on Tuesday, March 12 at 7:00 pm in The Vine. Please RSVP by using the bulletin sign-up sheet or by calling Marj Timmerman at 901.9224.