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June 25, 2015

Grace to you and peace from Carly, called to be the prophet, teacher, and vision caster among the saints, sinners, missionaries, learners, and kindling in La Grange and beyond.  

 

Ours is a calling to be a witness to the Realm of God which longs to be born anew within, among, and around each of us.

If that paragraph sounds familiar, you must have read the last Tidings; I started last month's musings with the same thought. There is a lot in there to be unpacked and explored. Allow me for a moment to put on my "teacher's hat" and stretch your understanding of "the Realm of God."

 

There have been numerous books written about heaven. Is it real? Most of the books are about near death experiences and the awe-rendering narratives of those who have "come back from the dead." I do not discredit these experiences; I am confident that these happen and are unforgettable by those for whom these have happened.

 

However, I do not believe we must die to experience heaven. Nothing in my reading of scripture tells me that heaven is "someplace else." I do not believe that the role of faith is to prepare us for whatever happens after our heart stops beating and the electrical currents in our brains cease to pulse. I believe the point of faith, the reason Jesus lived and taught, the point of all those Biblical narratives is to teach us how to live in the realm of God now -- each and every day. The Realm of God is here! But also not yet here. You and I are living amidst the Realm of God; it is near at hand.

The goal of my faith is to learn to recognize the glimpses of God's Realm in my everyday living. The focus of my living the faith is to help others recognize the nearness of the Kingdom of God. The primary purpose of my life is to nurture those glimmers of God's Realm and to speak and act against those things that impede God's will being done "on earth as it is in heaven."

 

Heaven is not some place in the clouds where the streets are paved with gold and a humanoid (made in human image) "god-character" lives in a mansion behind pearly gates. This is not a Biblical image; it is derived from Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy. So what is heaven?

The parables of Jesus tell us that the Kingdom of God is like....

  • A seed (Matthew 13:1-9, Luke 13:8ff)). It is a tiny idea with the potential to bring forth life where seemingly there is only death. It is that small nugget of matter that matters enough to change the earth around it, grow deep roots, and multiply abundantly. It is that small spark that can ignite God's dreams and visions for all people living justly, fairly, and in the extravagant love and grace of God. The Realm of God is something tiny that grows into something mighty over much time. Where have you seen this seed?
  • Leaven (Matthew 13:33ff, Luke 213:20 ff). Unseen in the midst of the grain, this small spore fills the world around it with the breath of life, raising that which was lifeless into nourishment and filling bellies. The Reign of God is unnoticed, insidious and subversive: it hides in the midst of the everyday and rises to become a great and abundant living presence. Where have you known this presence?
  • Treasure: (Matthew 13:44-46.) Whether a treasure or a pearl of great value, the Kingdom of God has more value than anything we could ever own. The most valuable of pearls occur spontaneously in the wild, but are extremely rare; you have to dig through a lot of yucky stuff and get your hands quite dirty to find one. Anyone who has shucked oysters knows that they have sharp edges and ridges that make doing so risky to tender skin. The Realm of God requires us to work hard and take personal risks - not for money or personal gain, but for reward of making God's ways visible real to ourselves and especially to others. What about your work lifts up God's love for others to see?

I was raised in a house built in 1651; it was always dusty no matter how clean we tried to keep it. I remember as a small child seeing the sun shining through south facing window; there in the shaft of light were millions of glimmering flakes of dust that looked like glitter. I reached out and tried to catch those sparkling specks; as my hands moved the air, the dust moved with it. I could not catch a single flake. But I continued to reach my hands into the light so I could see the swirling glimmers all around me.

 

The Realm of God is all around us. It is in our midst but not completely birthed. If you want to know what heaven is like, work to make God's realm visible in the swirling glimmers of hope around us. To see God's Kingdom at hand, we have to lift our hands and faces to the light and hold the hands of those who go otherwise unnoticed. Planting seeds of faith, hope, love, and justice; nurturing spores of yeasty God-breath into the everyday stuff of life; digging through the slimy, dirty, raw edges of the world. This is the work that leads us to know God's will on earth as it is in heaven.

   

Blessings,

Carly

Church News and Reminders


*OFFICE CLOSED*
The office will be closed on July 6th in observance of Independence Day!

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The Village of La Grange Wants To Regulate Jesus

 

We are The Church, the Body of Christ, who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, and care for the vulnerable in society. Our mission and purpose is a holy calling; we are protected by the First Amendment. That right is being called into question in La Grange.

 

The Zone Commission of the Village of La Grange met on June 9 to discuss amendments to the Zoning Laws. One of these amendments would allow the Village and its residents to dictate what we we can and cannot do as the Church in our building.  

 

Because of a strong turnout at the meeting by representatives of churches and faith communities in the Village, the Commission tabled these amendments until after a "workshop" meeting can be held to pull in the ideas of the larger community in the amendments being proposed.  

 

If the amendment titled IB Special Use List (ZC ?8-205) 8-205(S) S. [revision] Religious Organizations is passed in its current form, depending how "core Religious Mission Activities" is interpreted, it may be necessary to have the village's approval for our Saturday Meals Program, and our Conservatory of Music. We might need permission from the village and our neighbors to provide space for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Indian Guides, AA, Al-anon, OA, NA. We would need a special permit to lease our space to social service agencies. But most disturbing, the Village government would define and interpret our church's core mission and values.  

 

The proposed amendment:

Revision to IB Special Use List (ZC ?8-205) 8-205(S) S. [revision] Religious Organizations, including core religious mission activities but not including the following as part of a religious organization's facility: (i) independent social services agencies providing services and assistance to the general public except by approval of a separate special use permit, (ii) other independent services agencies except by approval of a separate special use permit, (iii) retail trade, (iv) personal services or other services to the general public.

 

The logic behind this amendment as it was presented to the area clergy:

 

Churches throughout the Village seek ways to use their buildings and to allow others to use their buildings both to promote their mission and to increase their revenue. In some cases a particular use does not appear to promote the church's mission and allowing that use may set a precedent for other non-mission uses in that building and for other churches. Churches in the Village are often located directly within single family residential neighborhoods. The uses a church allows in its building may not be compatible with nearby residences, whether it be an independent social services agency, organizations such as Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Kiwanis, and others, or something other such as a monthly teen rock-and-roll battle of the bands competition

 

Please plan to attend this zoning workshop at 7:30 pm on July 14. If you cannot attend, please contact the Village Board Members to voice your opinion.

 

Thomas E. Livingston                                      
tlivingston@villageoflagrange.com

 

Malia Arnett 

marnett@villageoflagrange.com

 

Bill Holder 

bholder@villageoflagrange.com

 

Michael Kotynek                                                           

 

Mark Kuchler                                                                   

 

Mark Langan  

mlangan@villageoflagrange.com

 

DavidMcCarty                      dmccarty@villageoflagrange.com 

   

Volunteer Opportunities
St. Barbara's Food Pantry Collection 

St. Barbara's Food Pantry collection item for May is canned beans (refried or whole) and canned meats (tuna, salmon, chicken, ham, spam, or hash). Thanks for your support!

    

CNN/Meals on Wheels 

Community Nutrition Network/Meals on Wheels provides meals and resources to older adults and persons with disabilities, and assists them in leading healthy and active lives. If you can  

volunteer to help prepare or deliver meals to home-bound seniors, or have any questions, please call Tanya Harrison at 708-310-4434.  

 

Lawn Mowing

The grass is green and it's time to mow! Sign up to help keep the church lawns looking their best. We have both a self propelled mower and a rechargeable mower for you to use. This includes the front, back and side lawns.

The sign-up day and time are listed as Saturdays, 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, but the actual day and time you mow is flexible.  

 
Reaching Out
DINI N G TO DONATE

Our finances are running at a significant deficit. Please help us close the gap by eating out! June 28th from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Applebees' at 9380 Joliet Road will donate 10% of your dining bill to FCCLG when you present the flyer. Look in this weeks' Bulletin or stop in the office to get one. You've got to  

                               eat, so you might as well help the     

                               church out while you do!   

In Our Church

HANG OUT WITH 'Flat' Jesus

"Flat Jesus" is a concept based on the children's novel "Flat Stanley" where Stanley is accidentally flattened when a bulletin board falls on him. What Stanley quickly discovers though is that being flat has some incredible advantages! He can go to all kinds of places that he couldn't go before!

 

Children in elementary schools were given their own paper cutout of Flat Stanley (early 90's) and took him to all corners of the world on countless adventures. Friends and family took him on vacations, invited him to community events, family gatherings, the possibilities were endless. They would take a picture of themselves with Flat Stanly wherever they were, doing whatever they were doing, write a few short details about their adventure and the adventures of Flat Stanley grew.


 

Flat Jesus is a twist on Flat Stanley. You are all invited to take a cutout of Flat Jesus, color and decorate him, and take him with you throughout the summer, sending pictures and stories back to the church via Facebook (tag the church!), email, or drop them by the office. We'll print photos and put them on the bulletin board in the Office corridor.

 

What a great way to share our faith and remind us that Jesus is with us wherever we go. This is an easy-to-do outward expression of an inward faith. Keep an eye out for pictures of the adventures of Flat Jesus on Facebook!    

 

MISSIONS OF THE MONTH

June's Missions of the Month are the UCC Outdoor Ministries and Community Diversity Group of La Grange. Your pledge to FCCLG has helped provide scholarships to attend UCC summer camps at Tower Hill and Pilgrim Park. In 2014, they were able to send 100 campers! We also support Community Diversity, a local organization providing scholarships to youth for camps in academics, sports, music, cooking, and other learning opportunities. Check out their thank you letters on the Missions bulletin board as you go to coffee hour. Thank you for supporting these worthy organizations! 

 
HOOKS & NEEDLES  
Hooks & Needles meets the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month in the summer at a member's house. The next meeting is on July 13th at Linda Lauterbach's.


BOOK CLUB

Evening Book Club will meet again on Thursday, July 3
0 t h at 7:30 pm in the Chapel meeting room (doorway to the le ft of the altar). Next month's title is non-fiction, "Travel a s a Political Act" by Rick Steves. You may kno w Rick fro m public television. All are welcome!!  

BIG BRUNCH MEETING SCHEDULE

There are no Big Brunch meetings in June or July. The next one will be August 16.

WOMEN'S FELLOWSHIP RETREAT

At the end of summer we feel restless and on the verge of new and exciting possibilities: How to respond to the Spiritual callings we feel? Where do we fit into God's plan? There isn't a better place to explore these feelings than on the women's fellowship retreat. Women of FCCLG please mark your calendars for Aug 22 & 23. All are very welcomed. We have been graciously invited again to Doris Bryant's home on Diamond Lake in Michigan, to explore with Pastor Carly, how to be attuned to the Spirit which surrounds us and make it a part of our lives. There will be time to enjoy the lake, to read, to talk with each other and be away from lives filled with hindrances which steal time from us. For more information please see the volunteer table or contact one of our hostesses, Jo-Anne Konkle, at 708-484-2099 or

  

There was a Women's Fellowship Retreat Planning Meeting on June 27th.

MOTHER'S TABLE

FCCLG has been blessed with the arrival of many new babies! We want to support the parents as they tend to their babies during Sunday worship. This summer, the Ministry of Nurture has set up a Mother's Table in the Drawing Room supplied with food and drink.  
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

 

 

VANCO PAYMENT SOLUTIONS 

What's keeping you away from the summer services? Family vacations, busy youth sports, or summer camps? All three will consume most of the next several weeks at our house, so Sunday mornings we'll be on the road or taking the opportunity for an extra hour of needed rest. That could create a budget crisis for our church, but our convenient e-Giving options allow us to always stay current on our pledge. We can make one-time payments when we can't attend services, or set up recurring monthly payments.

Consider using our electronic giving. You can access a Vanco form here or from the church's website.

 

Music News

Save the Date: Summer Musical Camp registrations are available. This program is for students in 1st to 8th grades and takes place July 27th to 31st from 2 - 6 pm. Performances will be at 7 pm on July 31st and 10 am on August 2nd. This year's show is Are We There Yet? (The Story of Moses and the Exodus). Please contact Ryan Cox for more information.   

 

Summer Musicians of all ages are invited to play, sing or ring starting in June. The choir is off for the Summer, so we need you!  Not a soloist, but want to lend your talents? That's ok! Ryan will find an ensemble for you, just contact him for more information or to sign up. 

 

First Conservatory, offering private lessons on most instruments including piano and voice, is housed in YOUR church. For almost 20 years our expert teachers have instructed many of the area's youth and adults, including many fine musicians in our congregation. Contact Ryan Cox to start lessons or for information to pass along to a music lover you know. Taking lessons is first and foremost for the student. However, the Conservatory has a symbiotic relationship with FCCLG. Each month the Conservatory contributes $1125 for the use of space. It sponsors teachers to play occasionally during our services and also provides all of the piano tunings in the building, including the sanctuary. More students means more opportunities for the Conservatory to support the church. We hope you will help make that happen!

Did You Know?

  • You can help us close the cash gap by eating out! Join us on Sunday, June 28th at Applebees' on Joliet Road in Hodgkins (bring the coupon printed here), and the church will received 10% of what you spend to supplement our general fund.
  • Hooks and Needles is a group of folks who make prayer shawls to bless those who might need a reminder that they are loved. With a prayer in every stitch, these shawls wrap people in our prayers. If you like to knit or crochet - or you'd like to learn - be in touch with Linda Lauterbach or Margaret Melkonian. If you know someone who could benefit from being hugged with the love of God and the prayers of us all, let Pastor Carly know and she'll arrange for one to be delivered.      
  • The church has space to share with like-minded
    not-for-profit groups? Our empty offices and unused spaces do not pay for themselves, but can
    be useful to organizations who need the space for wha t it costs us to have it. If you know of a non-profit group or agency that is looking for space, please put them in touch with someone from the Church Council or Pastor Carly.
  • The Interfaith Career Network is a free job seeker program in the western suburbs that can help those who seek to become employed or wish to other opportunities. This is a free service! Coordinated programs are offered weekly and monthly. The program is open to anyone and everyone, and volunteers are always needed. Check it out at  www.interfaithcareernetwork.org
  • As you are reading this, thousands from across the country (and abroad) - including your pastor and your Children and Youth Director -- will gather for General Synod 30 in Cleveland, Ohio - the birthplace of the United Church of Christ. Together, we will discern resolutions of witness, church structure, and function. We will stand up for issues that demand a faithful witness. And we will join together in worship each day to lift up the Stillspeaking God. At General Synod 30, we will explore some of the "Unexpected Places" where we hear God's voice, encounter the Spirit, and find the United Church of Christ lifting up its witness in the world. You can watch Synod Live over LiveStream. 

Touch List

Your Cards and Prayers Will Comfort and Touch...

The Balz Family in transition.

The family of Dennis Burke who passed on June 16th.

Rita Baumann, Mary Cooper's aunt who is recovering from surgery.

The family of Mary Crist who passed away May 12th.

Our thoughts are with LuAnn Hall's niece Jessica.

Lois Hindman, who is house bound with a brain condition.

Tony Kasnick, Dave Kasnick's nephew.

Roger Leidigh, Kathleen McConnellogue, and Jennifer Powers who are each dealing with health issues.

Camilla Norby

Helen Pancer, Viola Clayton's daughter.

Erin Swan, daughter of Chris and Renee Bryant, who has ongoing medical issues.

Joyce Williams, Diane Kasnick's aunt who is in hospice care.