Weekly Bulletin

April 24, 2022 Reflection for Sunday Morning Worship Sharing below-
 
THIS WEEK (111)+ of pandemic alterations
 

MONDAY April 25   

–USFW Mother’s Day supper reservation deadline
–Ministry & Oversight meeting, 7:00 PM by Zoom

WEDNESDAY April 27   

–Bread for the World/Fast Once A Month
Prayer Soup supper, 5:30 PM @ parsonage
No chiming choir practice this week
–Welcome Class Bible Study, 7:00 PM by Zoom
–Fabulous Friends, Parsonage class Zoom, 8:15 PM

SUNDAY May 1        

–Meeting for Worship-Sharing, 10:00 AM, both in person at the meetinghouse and online via Zoom

TUESDAY May 3         

–USFW Mother’s Day celebration/supper, 5:30 PM @ meetinghouse dining hall

WEDNESDAY May 4    

 –Monthly Meeting for Business, 7:00 PM by Zoom
No chiming choir practice or Sunday School Zooms       

 
BULLETIN BOARD for APRIL 24, 2022
 
PANDEMIC REQUESTS:  Mask-wearing currently is optional while seated in the sanctuary during worship.  Please keep masks on when moving around the room, speaking with others, etc. 
 
THE TRUSTEES’ April meeting will be held this afternoon at 3:30 PM by Zoom, and/or at the parsonage.
THE MISSIONS & SOCIAL CONCERNS COMMITTEE April meeting will be held today at 4:30 PM by Zoom.
 
USFW invites the women of Winchester Friends to a Mother’s Day celebration and supper on Tuesday evening May 3 at 5:30 PM in the meetinghouse dining hall.  Reservations are needed in the church office no later than tomorrow, Monday April 25.
 
THE WELCOME CLASS BIBLE STUDY will meet on Wednesday April 27 at 7:00 PM by Zoom to study Lesson 8 in the Illuminate quarterly.  Everyone is welcome — please request the Zoom link from the church office.
 
EASTER ENVELOPE OUTREACH OFFERING:  Friends are invited to make an extra contribution during April to help meet the needs of people left homeless, hungry, or injured by destructive weather, fire, war, or other calamity.  The first $500 received will be matched by Best Special Projects funds.  Please mark your gift “Easter Outreach” and place it in a Sunday offering plate or send it to the church office.
 
READ THROUGH THE BIBLE IN 2022:  This week’s chapters are Psalms 43-63.  The year’s daily reading schedule is available on the parlor table.
 
THANK YOU, faithful Friends, for your gifts of consistent prayer, financial support, encouragement, and participation in the ministries of Winchester Friends during these uncertain times.  God bless you for your committed stewardship of the Lord’s resources!
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Winchester Friends Church        winchesterfriends@juno.com
124 E Washington     Winchester IN 47394     765-584-8276
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April 24, 2022 Reflection for Sunday Morning Worship Sharing on Zoom and in the Meetinghouse

 
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is humankind, that you are mindful of them….?  You made them a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned them with glory and honor.  You made them ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet…. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!         Psalm 8:3-6,9
 
….what may be known about God is plain to people, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made….     Romans 1:19,20 
 
A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.      John 13: 34,35
 
 Earth Day 2022  –  Loving One Another Environmentally
 
Soon after Pam and I arrived in Kampala, Uganda, in 1991 to direct the Mennonite Central Committee’s programs there, we were invited to a seminar being offered for non-governmental organizations like ours who had agriculture, forestry, and other environmental projects in the country.  The program that day was provided by a large coal-fired electricity generation company serving the American Northeast.  Awareness of global warming was growing in the US, and the Environmental Protection Agency had begun more closely regulating the carbon emissions of power plants.  At that time, one of the options available to the electricity companies was to offset their carbon emissions by planting huge numbers of trees to sequester their emitted carbon back out of the atmosphere.  The company in Kampala that day had been unable to find the space in the American Northeast needed to plant the hundreds of thousands of tree seedlings required for their offset, so they devised an alternate plan. 
 
That US power company knew that all across sub-Saharan Africa, millions of people used locally-grown trees for cooking fuel and shelter construction.  They also knew that population density and more frequent droughts were leading to serious deforestation in many places, and that African governments and people living on $2 per day did not have extra money for reforestation projects.  On the understanding that Earth’s atmosphere is a contiguous “wrapper” over the entire planet, they calculated that they could fund the planting of millions of trees across Africa (at much lower cost than they could plant them in the US), emit carbon in North America, and count on those trees on the other side of the world to pull the carbon back out of the atmosphere.  Additional benefits they touted included jobs for the Africans who would start and run the tree nurseries, free tree seedlings for rural people living in poverty, shade for people in hot places, and new supplies of timber for construction and firewood.  On the surface, it sounded very generous.  Everyone wins, right?
 
Well, not exactly.  That seemingly generous power company was just one of hundreds in North America, and one of thousands around the world, that were burning more and more coal to produce the electricity required by the Digital Age explosion of electronic devices owned and used by people in developed countries.  I have not done the math, but it seems clear that even in 1991, there was not enough acreage of open land in the world to enable all of those power companies to establish enough tree-planting programs to sequester the carbon they were emitting.  In underdeveloped nations with growing populations, that land was going to be needed for housing and for food production.  Even in 1991, it was common knowledge that the first step for getting out of a hole is to stop digging.  Unfortunately, the power company’s presentation that day did not mention any steps they were taking to reduce their consumption of greenhouse gas-producing coal.  Their plan was to use their wealth to get rural Africans (who didn’t even have electricity available) to tie up their arable land with free trees so the company could satisfy the EPA’s carbon offset requirement and keep on producing electricity for Americans.  We saw that profit-driven developed world/developing world shortsightedness play out many more times during our years in Kampala.
 
Imagine our dismay when we returned to the US in late 1997 and began to read about garbage-laden barges floating from the east coast across the Atlantic to underdeveloped African countries who agreed to bury American trash (some of it likely toxic) on their land in exchange for much-needed hard currency.  Cities here were expanding faster than they could find places on which to build safe landfills, and their citizens were generating far more waste than the existing landfills could accommodate.  Some enterprising officials figured out that they could float trash to Africa and pay people there to make it go away less expensively than they could build appropriate disposal facilities nearby.  As we studied more about this issue, we learned also that other cities which had more trash than they could handle chose to truck it significant distances to landfills in places like Randolph County, Indiana.  That is less expensive than buying land and building proper facilities in their own locale.  We were told sometime in the past few years that Indiana’s “high point” (highest elevation) near Arba had been unofficially surpassed by the mountain of trash at our county landfill due to that practice.  There has been genuine concern about the exact contents of those loads and about potential harmful seepage into the area’s water table.  I don’t, however, remember hearing much serious discussion lately about reducing our level of consumption or rethinking what has become our throw-away economy.  Again…..”first stop digging.”
 
Love One Another      During this week of Earth Day 2022, I have been thinking about how Jesus’ “new command” might be obediently lived out through our choices and actions regarding the natural world.  In the above examples, I ponder whether the US power company’s offer of free tree seedlings to Ugandan farmers really counts as generosity.  The farmers probably thought so, but the company’s offer was motivated by its self-serving desire to avoid far more costly changes to its US facilities that actually would have reduced the amount of carbon they emitted, making the world better for everyone.  The West African nations (and rural US counties) that accepted money to bury American cities’ garbage undoubtedly enjoyed the money they were paid, but it is unlikely the people living near those sites received anything except polluted soil, or worse.  As we have just celebrated at Easter, when Jesus came to earth to deal with the pollution of sin, he didn’t just say and do a few nice things, then pass the real burden of redemption off onto the very people he came to save.  He bore it all himself.  It was sacrificial and costly to himself.  That is how he loved us, and how he commands that we love one another.  Are there practical ways to live out that love in how we treat nature?  I think so.
 
Practice Grace-Filled Gratitude     I have always loved the Old Covenant instruction for practicing Jubilee (Leviticus 25) and have long lamented that Israel never obeyed those instructions.  In my opinion, the best part of Jubilee was the insistence that in each 50th year, the land was to revert to its original “owners” or their direct descendants.  That rebalanced the distribution of resources and reminded all Israel that “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”  When land was sold, what actually was sold was the number of years left before the next year of Jubilee.  In order to love one another with respect to the environment, we must first acknowledge that this planet belongs to God, not to us.  By his grace, he has gifted us with life on this amazing, beautiful, complex, interdependent planet that we all share temporarily as our home in God’s cosmos.  New York Times essayist Margaret Renkl suggested on PBS Newshour this week that anyone who doesn’t see that beauty isn’t paying good attention.  That sincere acknowledgment will produce thankfulness deep in our souls that we get to be sustained by and enjoy God’s masterpiece every day of our lives.  It also should produce in us an unwillingness to hoard or selfishly misuse God’s creation in any way that degrades it or that violates Jesus’ command to love one another as he loves us.
 
Practice Stewardship        Some religious people read the Genesis creation account in the King James Bible and insist that God gave humans “dominion,” the right to exploit and control everything in creation for their own enrichment and pleasure (Genesis 1:26-28).  Modern translations more accurately render that as the responsibility “to rule over” creation as God’s appointed stewards, treating all creation exactly as God intended it to be treated when he created it.  That small difference in understanding can make the difference between human destruction of the planet until it is no longer habitable, or care and renewal of the earth to sustain meaningful life far into the future, until God chooses to unveil the “new heaven and new earth.”  Unborn future generations are depending upon our obedient stewardship.  On a wall at Earlham School of Religion is a plaque bearing Elton Trueblood’s wise words, “we have begun to understand the meaning of life when we plant trees under whose shade we will never get to sit.”  To love one another means asking, with every handling of God’s resources, “is this treatment consistent with God’s created intent?”
 
Practice Generosity and Sharing      Understanding that all I seem to have or control is a gift from God for which I am deeply thankful, and committing to use that gift exactly as God created it to be treated, leads naturally to this third step.  The early Church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:44; 4:32) “had everything in common” and shared with one another as they saw need and the Spirit led.  Their main purpose for living was not to accumulate personal wealth, but to strive for the common good.  In I John 3:17, the apostle asks how the love of God can be in anyone who has material resources, sees someone in genuine need, and does not help.  Part of loving one another is the sharing of Earth’s abundance to make sure everyone has enough.
 
Practice Peace     Environmental activists regularly speak out against the horrific carbon footprint and rampant polluting of militaries, especially the big ones like America’s, China’s, and Russia’s.  I don’t have the statistics at hand, but they use more fossil fuel than most entire countries do, and they leave toxic, dangerous substances everywhere they train or operate.  Military budgets consume obscene amounts of resource that could be used to mitigate climate change and rescue its victims.  Pictures of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are vivid evidence that conflict pollutes the earth with blood, rubble, twisted carnage, and sorrow.  Paul wrote to the Romans that all the Law’s commands are summed up in “love your neighbor as yourself.  Love does no harm to its neighbor” (13:9,10).  A logical way to care for the earth by loving one another as Christ loves us is to work diligently however we can for a world free of war and the threat of war. 
 
Christian author and professor Tony Campolo has written that when faced with decisions about the environmental impact of his choices, he asks himself, “what thing or activity is so important to me that I’m willing to sacrifice my grandkids’ future in order to have it?”  Environmental degradation, he says, results from sin – human selfishness.  Sin is remedied through repentance, a biblical word meaning “to turn around and go the opposite direction.”  To love one another as Christ loves us, that kind of change of direction is needed not just in care of the earth, but in many areas of 21st century life – war, gun violence, substance abuse, materialism and greed, social unrest, misuse of technology and social media – in every part of our lives.  On this 53rd observance of Earth Day, I pray we can all find the humility to “turn around” and practice gratitude, stewardship, generosity, and peace towards creation and one another.  Future generations and the Lord of Creation are counting on us.
 
–Ron Ferguson, 24 April 2022
 
 
Queries for Worship-Sharing and Reflection
 
1)  How might people know we are Jesus’ disciples by seeing our treatment of creation?  

2)  What does “striving for the common good” look like in practical, everyday terms in the 21st century?

3)  If honoring God’s “created intent” for all things is key to Christian stewardship, how can we discover what that intent is?
4)  Friends seek to “walk gently upon the earth.”  Is that really possible in 2022?  What might that look like nowadays?

5)  In thinking about Earth Day this week, what “aha moments” of learning or new understanding have you experienced?
 
 
 
 
 
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Winchester Friends Church           765-584-8276
124 E. Washington St.      Winchester, IN  47394
www.winchesterfriendschurch.org
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