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May 26, 2016

Grace to you and peace to all the saints in La Grange and beyond from Carly, called to be a leader, prophet, preacher, and teacher among and beside you.
Dan and I love to cook. And over the years, we've grown to love a wide variety of herbs and spices-- so much so that when Dan arrived a year ago, we found we were using three drawers to store the spices in their jars and containers which come in any number of shapes and sizes. When we were cooking or baking and we needed a particular spice, we'd have to pick up bottles and read the labels to make sure we were using what we wanted or what the recipe required. At one point we tried labels for the top of lids. And we tried putting the spices in alphabetical order. And to some degree this worked, but it wasn't perfect and we knew that something had to change.
As we were talking about this problem, we imagined what we needed: a shelf to hold them all in a visible way. We knew that we had a variety of shapes, sizes, and quantities and so the shelving needed to have shelving that could accommodate tall, short, round, or strangely shaped bottles of spices. We found the perfect part of the wall between the stove and the window; we measured the space where and we went shopping. We visited several stores and didn't find what we envisioned. We went online to Amazon, Ebay, and my favorite word worker's site to find a spice rack that fit our requirements, but to no avail.
So, back to the wood shop: we'd have to create it. We had a need and a vision. We had the tools and the skills. We also had the wood and even decorative moldings that would add character and uniqueness to the project. I drew up the plans, chose wood from among the scraps of other projects, found the glue, stain, and finish and began to create and live into our vision. Along the way we tweaked the plans, took a detour, and made appropriate adjustments. In the end we had the spice rack we need, but as is true with many projects we begin, they rarely end up in the way we first envisioned.
I think this is true about any dream worth dreaming: we have an idea, we create a plan, and we begin the process of creating and living into the dream. My experience is that God laughs heartily when we make plans! So, along the way, new situations will arise that will require a different decision than what we may have originally thought. We adjust, we adapt, and we go forward, confident that in the end we'll still have a spice rack that will hold our bottles, cans and containers of spices. The outcome is different, but the product is still the same - it is a spice rack... or a community of faith.
As each part of the Body of Christ journeys into the unknown of the 21st Century, we are listening and attending to the voice of God that is calling us reinvent how we "do church." This is elusive and hard to imagine. We want plans that are certain, directions that are clear, and we want to make sure that we're doing everything the way we've imagined it - exactly how the blue-prints instruct us. Unfortunately, the Holy Spirit is rarely predictable. The gospel of John writes, "The wind - the Holy Spirit - blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes" John 3:8a.
As we journey into the future, our task is to imagine, reimagine, adjust, and adapt as we move to fulfill our vision as a congregation that is "Accepting all, Reaching out, Touching lives." We will not get it right every time. We are all learning as we go. The key to learning is to not be afraid to make mistakes. We learn more from what doesn't work than from what does work.

And so my challenge to each of you as we journey together is this: How is God calling you to reinvent yourself, your faith, your spiritual journey? Where is the wind of the Spirit blowing in your life? And how will you use that Wind-Spirit power to make this world more closely resemble the Realm of God?
Moving forward in faith,
Touch List

Your Cards and Prayers Will Comfort and Touch...
Emil and Maria Balz, who are both in rehabilitation.
Kathy Bloom.
LuAnn Hall, who is recovering from surgery.
Our thoughts are with LuAnn Hall's niece Jessica.
Bert Happel, Jim Happel's brother.
Jeanne Hayden, who is recovering from surgery.
The family and friends of Lois Hindman, who died on April 2nd.
Linda Lauterbach's friend Sophia, her husband, and 22 month old son; Sophia has a brain             tumor.
The family and friends of Ruth Miller, the mother of Jan Moellman who died on May 17th.
Petra Palmer's granddaughter's friend Summer who is having chemotherapy for leukemia.
Helen Pancner, Viola Clayton's daughter, who has continuing health struggles.
Jennifer Powers as she deals with health issues.
Ron Sander, Erik Sander's father, as he and his family manage his ongoing illness.
Vera Weiss.
Music News

Summer Musical Camp registrations are available in the church office.  This program is for students in 1st-8th grades and will take place from July 25-29 from 2-6pm. Performances will be 7pm on 7/29 and 10am on 7/31.  This year's show will be "The Old Testament Fast Forward" which attempts to tell the entire history contained in the Old Testament in 35 minutes.  We will likely not succeed, however we will have fun trying! 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 too.  Ryan will work to find an ensemble for you.  Please contact to Ryan Cox to sign-up.

First Conservatory, offering private lessons on most instruments including piano and voice, is housed in YOUR church.  For 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!
Volunteer Opportunity

BEDS Plus Summer Volunteer Opportunities 
This summer BEDS Plus is offering a transitional summer shelter. The program is modeled after other successful programs around the region that provide a smaller-scale summer shelter program for clients who need additional time to achieve stability. 

Here is how it works  -

-   Clients must apply for transitional shelter with our
    program manager and comply with the same rules that
    apply during the regular season. Priority will be given to
    those who are employed and those waiting for
    permanent supportive housing placement.

-   Clients must agree to stay at the shelter each night
    unless otherwise prearranged with their case manager.

-   Up to 15 clients will qualify.  As each client gets 
    housing, another client may qualify.

-   Volunteer crews will be smaller, with longer shifts.
    Clients will help with set up and clean up each day. 
    Staff will be on-site each evening.

-   Hours will be 7pm - 7am, just like the regular shelter

-   Shelter is not advertised or open to new clients
    unless they go through the application process and
    there is an open spot.

Shelter will rotate to a new church each week from
   June 6 through August 14 (10 weeks).

Our Congregation will host this transitional program for the week of July 10-17. While we are not responsible for providing volunteers, you are welcome to volunteer for the many tasks that hospitality of this kind requires. Volunteers are required to attend one Volunteer Orientation session prior to volunteering. Our next sessions are May 9th and June 13th. If you'd like to volunteer, or need more information email or please click here.
Church News and Reminders

June 5th
begins a new sermon series called "Be the Church," based on the graphic above, which was produced by our United Church of Christ. 

Summer Sermon Series:
June 5   Deut. 10:15-22   Be the Church: Protect the Environment. Care for the Poor. - God made the world, and left us to care for it, including the most vulnerable among us. God loves, so we must love.

June 12   Matt. 18:15-22   Be the Church: Forgive Often. -How have we forgiven? How do we maintain that forgiveness?

June 19  Rev. Jorge Morales, Conference Minister of the Illinois Conference UCC will talk about the Church and our role in the larger church.

June 26    Eph. 2:14-19, 3:14-19   Be the Church: Reject racism. Fight for the Powerless -No longer strangers or sojourners, but equally citizens of God.

July 3   Acts 4:32-37   Be the Church: Share earthly and spiritual resources - Share, like your mother taught you to.

July 10   Gal. 3:26-29   Be The Church: Embrace Diversity - Neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. One of the best things about FCCLG is its diversity. 

July 17   Deut. 6:4-13  Be The Church: Love God. Enjoy this Life. - The Shema


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!   

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.

Join us as we knit and crochet for charity. Beginners are welcome - we will be glad to give instruction. We meet every Monday except the first Monday of the month in the Family Room off the Chapel at 7pm 

Evening book club will meet on Thursday, June 2nd to discuss The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. This work of fiction entwines two love stories set ninety years apart. All are invited to the chapel conference room at 7:30 for discussion and light snacks. And yes, we really do discuss our reading selections!  

Our next Messy Church will meet on June 5th at 4:30pm. Our theme this month is Bible Roads . We hope to see you there!      
4:30-5:15pm: Crafts 
5:15-5:30pm: Celebration 
5:30-6:00: Dinner 
6:00-7:00: Yzal/Zackleys  
Ministry Opportunities
Thanks much to those of you who responded to the need for used clothing for San Lucas Church's community closet. If you still have men and teens' gently used clothing, please drop them off in the closet by the chapel entrance by May 31st, or call me to arrange a pickup. Bobbie Nunez, 708-354-3816.

When grocery shopping, try to remember the phrase "one for others." Even in these days of stressed budgets, most people can afford to buy one item for a local food pantry. Beyond helping others, keeping the hungry in mind helps us, too, by reminding us to be grateful for what we ourselves can afford. And if you go shopping with children, letting a child help choose the one item for those less fortunate is a good way to instill the attitude of thinking of others. During the month of May, St. Barbara's food pantry is especially in need of the following items, which are displayed outside the sanctuary: laundry detergent, dish detergent, cat or dog food, pancake mix, pancake syrup (maple flavor), fruit or pudding cups, and Jello-o gelatin and pudding.
Children and Youth News

The Zackleys and Yzals will meet on the first of the month after Messy Church 6-7:15 during the summer. 

No matter your age or your stage, our United Church of Christ Conference has a summer camp that is right for you. Whether at Tower Hill or Pilgrim Park, whether your interest is in sports or theater, whether you want to spend a few days or a full week, there is a camp for you. Check out the offerings on the posters outside Sylvia's office, or online at the Outdoor Ministries Website.

Since we will not have Summer Sunday School, please encourage your children to grab a blessing bag or a toy from the back during service! We are planning to have the nursery available for children 3 years and under, and we still need people to volunteer for the nursery.
June 4th in the La Grange Pet parade. As we have in years past, our High School group, the Zackleys will be selling water. If you would like to donate bottled water please bring it to the office before June 4th.

We will also be handing out fliers for our Messy Church gatherings during the Pet Parade. If you are available to help please let Sylvia know!

Trip Dates: Saturday July 16th- Sunday July 24th

Saturday July 16th -- Be at Church by 4:30 am

Saturday Night: Camping at Sawbill Outfitters

Sunday July 17-23: Canoe and Camp in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Saturday July 23rd: Overnight at First Congregational Church of Eau Claire
Sunday July 24th around 1:30 - 2:00 pm Return to La Grange
Cost: $450.00 total
           $100 due upon sign up (Deadline June 19)
           Total Due Sunday July 3