Worship in parking lot Aug. 30

Join us outside in the parking lot for 9:30 a.m. worship on what’s forecast to be a beautiful Sunday, Aug. 30. Lon and Nancy Hendricks will provide music. We’ll also be broadcasting a prerecorded version of the service as a watch party on our Facebook page at 9:30 a.m. Scroll down the page to find it and worship with others online.

Monthly communion is being moved up to this Sunday, so whether you come to the outdoor service or watch from home, please prepare your own elements.

There will be physical distancing at the parking lot service. Bring a mask and your own lawn chair or stay in your car. We hope to see you at either version of the service!

FHC prayer list

This is the current prayer list for Falcon Heights Church. Please hold the following in your prayers:

Adam, husband of Patti Holmes’ close friend; admitted to hospital with severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Barbara, friend of Gordon Everest, breast cancer.

Sue Benhardus, friend of Libby O’Connell, pancreatic cancer.

Erv, a friend of Catherine Holtzclaw, cancer.

Robert Everest, son of Gordon and Marty, health care worker with COVID patients.

Aileen Gaasch, Mary Gaasch’s mother, broken hip; Mary is trying to decide where to move her.

Marilyn Kobylarz, Lynne Meyer’s cousin; developed an infection while recovering from cancer surgery.

Tom Loughrey, awaiting a new donor’s heart transplant at Mayo Clinic.

Mary Beth, friend of Lynne Meyer’s mother, in Mayo.

Karen Meile, undergoing many tests for possible stroke and A-fib.

Lynne Meyer, in the death of her sister, Carol.

Brian Richardson, Carol Meeter’s brother-in-law, life’s challenges.

Ted Schwenker, a former FHC member; untreatable cancer.

Family of Barb Neihart’s neighbor Sue, who died at Mayo.

Brad Wicklem, waiting for organ donor.

Those in our community who are hungry and afraid, especially children from Falcon Heights School who depend on school nutrition programs and are facing food scarcity now that schools are closed.

All those affected by hate crimes, unjust treatment at our borders, and discrimination based on race, sex and other factors. Healing for the racial divisions in our community.

Justice for George Floyd; police accountability and reform from lawmakers at all levels of government.

COVID-19 prayers:

Those ill from the virus.
Health professionals and caregivers: Thanks and protect yourself.
Governments worldwide: Do the right thing.
Businesses, employees and all who are financially suffering.
Those who are tempted to hoard.
Those isolated from family and friends.
Those who do not take the threat seriously: Realize how each of us must be responsible.

If you have a request for prayer, please contact Jan Blomberg, jblomberg1@msn.com, who will pass on your request to the Prayer Group. If you would like prayers for someone other than yourself, please obtain permission from that person first.

Prayer list last updated 8/20/2020

Worship in the parking lot Aug. 2

We’re having a drive-in communion worship service in the church parking lot at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 2. The lot is directly across from the church, on the northwest corner of Garden and Holton in Falcon Heights.

How it works:

  • You may drive in, park, stay in your car, or bring a lawn chair and sit in a shady spot for the service.
  • Masks and six-foot physical distancing are required. Bring your own elements for communion.
  • We will use our PA system, and the service will be about the same length as our online services–between 35 and 40 minutes. A printed order of service will be available.
  • We will have music by Lon and Nancy Hendricks, but no congregational singing. You’ll be invited to say the responsive parts of the liturgy to yourself.
  • There will also be a prerecorded version of the service on Facebook for those who need or prefer to worship online at home.
  • Bring an open heart, your community spirit and the commitment we all share to care for one another as we gather safely on a summer’s morning!

Racial justice webinar series

 

On Wednesday, July 15, the second in a series of racial justice webinars will examine our responses to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The Minnesota Conference UCC series, “Justice Talk to Justice Walk,” is free but requires registration (see the link below).

“Sacred Disruption: Standing with Jesus at the Corner of 38th and Chicago” features the Rev. Gary Green and the Rev. Dr. Justin Tabia-Sanis, faculty at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Join in from 7 to 8:30 p.m. for a dynamic conversation about how our sacred scriptures and our theologies can help shape our responses to Floyd’s killing and a history of racial oppression. How can we disrupt existing realities to create something new?

On Thursday, Aug. 6, Samantha Fuentes, a survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, will speak on “Youth Lead Now: Equipping Young Leaders for Social Change.”

Information and registration link

Share your garden produce

Help supply fresh, healthy food for hungry neighbors this summer. Starting July 6, The Sheridan Story (which we support in feeding students at Falcon Heights Elementary) will be collecting donations of garden produce from area gardeners through its Grow and Give program.

You can drop off donations at The Sheridan Story at 2723 Patton Road in Roseville on Mondays and Tuesdays July 6 through Sept. 30. Please email Summer Programs Manager Christine Dummann (cdummann@thesheridanstory.org) with a brief description of your donation and to arrange a dropoff time.

Read more about the most-needed garden produce.

Father’s Day/Summer Solstice party

Don’t miss one of the highlights of summer 2020: a neighborhood Father’s Day/Summer Solstice Dance Party and Celebration on Sunday, June 21, starting at 4 p.m. in our FHC parking lot.

We’ll be dancing from 4 to 5 p.m. with social distancing, followed by a special children’s activity around a maypole. There will also be a chalk labyrinth and a special area for just talking and connecting. Bring a mask, your own lawn chair and refreshments, and a vase for one of the activities. You’re also invited to bring offerings of love, hope and peace, such as rocks, flowers or writings, for a fairy garden.

We’ll be collecting donations of food and household and personal supplies (download the list of needs here) for our neighbors in McDonough Homes. Let’s see if we can surpass the approximately $2,500 worth of food and supplies we collected at our last gathering!

This is a time to come together in joy and friendship, solidarity and hope. Please join us, whether at the parking lot or walking by or from your front yard (if you live nearby)–and invite friends and neighbors. All are welcome.

Is anything too hard for God?

(Genesis 18:1-15, 21:1-7) By Rev. Rick King–Today, we’re recognizing those in our congregation who have graduated and are moving into the next chapter of their lives, whether that’s college, or graduate school, or work, or an internship. These “threshold” moments are fraught with a certain amount of anxiety for parents and children: we have to trust them to meet the challenges of this next chapter, and we have to entrust them to others, to the world, the Universe and an unseen Power greater than us. They have to deal with their parents’ trust issues, many times, as well as the balance of confidence and misgivings they have about the next steps they are taking in their life. And there’s always uncertainty involved.

Add to that the uncertainty of this particular graduation-time—with having finished school online, without milestones like Prom and with modified, online commencement ceremonies due to the pandemic—as well as the upheaval around the nation and the world as we confront the grip of white supremacy—and trust becomes even more challenging.

And yet, there’s a way in which life inexorably goes on, and we have to find a way to walk this path that doesn’t yet have a name, and somehow learn to have just enough trust to take those next few steps in spite of the uncertainty.

The story of Abraham and Sarah and the three visitors is a story of radical hospitality, of promise, and fulfillment, and trust. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get to thinking it must have been easier for people back in the Ancient Near East, or in first-century Galilee, to trust God or Jesus, just because they lived back then and were somehow closer to them, like a friend you just call up when you need encouragement, and they remind you, “You can do this!”

But how do you trust a God you can’t see, a stranger whom you feel so unacquainted with, and who acts in ways you’re not used to? It helped me to find out that it was difficult for Abraham and Sarah, too. Here they were, in their 90s, having been raised in the polytheistic, nature-based religion of their nomad ancestors, with whom they knew the terms of the relationship, what offerings to give which local gods in order to get what they needed: good weather, abundant crops or grazing land, and water, enough children to carry on the family line.

And suddenly they’re thrust into a relationship with only One God, Yahweh, who was invisible and who they couldn’t control, but who had appeared to them in visions and a mysterious voice that said, “Go to the land that I will show you and I will make of you a great nation, with descendants as numerous as the stars in the skies and the grains of sand in the ocean.”

Trust took a little while, for them. God visits them several times over the course of the chapters leading up to our story this morning, and one particular night when God was visiting and talking to Abraham, the two of them had it out. You see, the main thing God had promised to Abraham and Sarah, if they followed God to Canaan, was a child, an heir, who would be the seed from which their great family tree with all those many descendants would grow. And so far, no heir had come. Abraham had even slept with their slave, Hagar, in order to ensure a son to inherit the family name, and she had given birth to Ishmael. But God had disqualified Ishmael.

So, on the night they had it out, God had come, reiterating the promise, but Abraham wasn’t having any of it: “Offspring? I don’t see any offspring!” was essentially what he said when he told God off. Before the visit ended, God had made a covenant with Abraham, sort of a down-payment on the fulfillment of the promise. But for two more chapters, all we hear, along with Abraham, is God continuing to promise, and Sarah, who had never been able to have children and who was now well past her childbearing years, continuing to be childless.

And so by the time our story opens in chapter 18, they’ve all but forgotten the expectancy they once had for a child, and have resumed their daily lives of living in a tent, moving their flock of sheep to new pastures, cooking and eating and sleeping, and welcoming the occasional visitor wandering through the desert wilderness.

And yet, there’s something almost Buddhist in what happens next, and by that I mean that it’s in the midst of their daily chop-wood-carry-water existence that a theophany, or as the Buddhists would say, samadhi, an enlightenment occurs. Because of the extremity of what they’d been through and the hardships of their daily life, they had somehow been made ready for what comes next, even though they didn’t know it.

In the first verse, the writer of Genesis makes it really clear that what comes next is important, and we should take notice: “The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre…” the story begins. But God appears buried in an encounter with what seem to be three traveling strangers who arrive in the heat of the afternoon; and it’s Abraham’s gracious, enthusiastic hospitality that makes a space—and holds that space open—for this to become the divine encounter that it is.

So often, God lies buried in the everyday: occasions provided by people needing welcome or help; in our first, halting steps toward a daily prayer, meditation, or other spiritual practice, like yoga or tai chi; in saying “yes” to engaging voters to work for change; or in having a fearless conversation with our child, partner, or parent about a life matter.

And as we live out our routines in the midst of having become used to a pandemic, and what Martin Luther King called “the fierce urgency of now” forcing us to finally have the conversations and take the actions on racism that we’ve been avoiding, we need to be alert to where God is showing up. Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron says, “The only time we ever know what’s really going on is when the rug’s been pulled out and we can’t find anywhere to land. We use these situations either to wake ourselves up or to put ourselves to sleep. Right now—in the very instant of groundlessness—is the seed of taking care of those who need our care and of discovering our goodness.”

And, I would add, rediscovering trust in God’s capacities, and our own. It’s in this discovery, and this rediscovery, that we hear the promise of God with us as more trustworthy than before—that God’s capacities are greater than we ever imagined. And it can be the source of great joy, even laughter at the audaciousness and ridiculousness of God’s goodness.

And we may hear God ask, “Is anything too hard, or too wonderful, for God?” May you see God show up this week, in the ordinary, and in some surprising ways. Amen.

One Great Hour of Sharing April 26

Each year we receive an offering for One Great Hour of Sharing, an ecumenical campaign that supports people-helping initiatives worldwide. Our OGHS offerings are invested in such things as education for girls and boys, vocational training, microcredit lending that helps people become self-sufficient, and other sustainable solutions that offer dignity to all. Through OGHS, we also support disaster relief and refugee initiatives.

This year’s offering is April 26. Since we can’t collect the offering in person, you can mail a check to the church (mark OGHS in the memo line) or, even easier, give online. Use our new text donation or eGiving portal and designate your gift for One Great Hour of Sharing.

Earth Day 50th anniversary live stream

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day will take place April 22 by live stream. Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light had originally planned for a multi-faith gathering at the State Capitol to demand climate action. But with most of us sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the gathering is being moved online.

Join other people of faith from 1 to 3 p.m. on April 22 for a live-streamed gathering of prayer, storytelling and action opportunities. Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, Rep. Frank Hornstein, Mahyar Sorour, Rev. Kristen Foster, Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs, Luisa VanOss and more will offer wisdom from diverse faith and spiritual traditions that empower each of us to face the combined coronavirus and climate crises and build a healthy, safe world for all.

Register here

Holy Hammers build suspended

Our Holy Hammers build has been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity suspended volunteer operations until after April 12 (after Easter Sunday). The Holy Hammers build for 2020 was scheduled to begin shortly after that. Obviously, in these uncertain times, the Holy Hammers build schedule is up in the air as well. We will pass along information regarding an updated schedule once we know it. But at this point, it appears unlikely that we will go forward with our original schedule. Stay tuned!

Please stay home and stay well.

Lynne Meyer, FHCUCC Holy Hammers Steering Committee

March 26, 2020