Straight to the Point
June 30,2020
Reflection & Prayer for This Week


The primary, fundamental belief of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam is this:

Human beings are made in the image of God.

Because human beings are made in the image of God, each and every human life is sacred.

So sacred that, in all three of these Abrahamic faith traditions, we are called to do whatever we can -- even to the point of breaking a law, if we must -- to protect and save a human life whenever another human being is at risk.

When we believe this, none of us is expendable.

When we believe this, Black lives matter.

When we believe this, we are called to do whatever we can
to protect each other from COVID-19.

We do not come to this easily or willingly. As Richard Rohr reminds us in Falling Upward ( the book we are reading and discussing on Sunday mornings), during the first half of life we are focused on our ego's desires. In other words, like children, we are self-focused. We want what we want. And we want it now.

All 3 faith traditions teach that we have to learn to care for others as much as we care for ourselves. All 3 traditions recognize this is not easy for us. That means we have to learn limits. So we are given "mitzvot" (we call these "commandments"). Although mitzvot/
commandments may seem to restrict our actions, they actually teach us and enable us to get out of our selves -- out of our egos -- so we can grow as fully as possible into the image of God each one of us is. T hey teach us and enable us to care for others as God cares for each and every one of us .

We learn to love God.
We learn not to lie or steal or kill or covet what is not ours.
We learn to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.
We learn to love each other.
We learn to love like God loves.

If we learn well, and grow well in faith, by the time we reach the second half of life we will have internalized a sense of moral responsibility for each other. It becomes integrated into the fabric of our being; it's no longer externally imposed. We are able to set aside our small egos and wants for the well-being of all of God's children (that's everyone). We are willing to sacrifice our personal preferences and privilege, and our ease and comfort, in order to protect the lives of others.

It's no surprise that, in all 3 Abrahamic faith traditions, a measure of our ethical, moral, and spiritual growth is our willingness to step aside from our self-interested agendas to care for the most vulnerable: children, elders, persons of color. A measure of our maturity is how well we put those who are "least among us" first.

When we can sacrifice our egos in this way, it is a clear sign that we have begun living "second half of life" spirituality in the world. To live into incarnation we must truly believe and understand that others are precious because they, too, are made in the image of God. As Jesus reminds us, it's "simple": How we are with others is how we are with God.

Right now, we are living in a time that calls for "second half of life" spirituality and sacrifice. Especially the sacrifice of our ego's privilege. Today, our choices are, quite literally, matters of life and death.

Black lives matter.

Those of us who are "white" are called to repent -- to change our deadly ways and put our privilege and our prejudice "in check." We are called to honor and cherish our African-American brothers and sisters. We are called to step back and get out of the way so they may step up and lead the way.

No one's life is expendable.

Again, we are called to repent -- to change our ways and "check' our privilege. We may "want" to gather in person; we may "want" to do that now. But it is, literally, deadly to gather. We may not "like" wearing masks; we may find them "uncomfortable." Yet we risk other's lives when we refuse to wear masks. We are publicly proclaiming that others' lives -- the lives of children, elders, persons of color -- do not matter. Who are we willing to endanger and, quite possibly, lose to death? As mature Christians, we are called to honor and cherish others. We are called to limit ourselves, and suffer discomfort, in order to protect and preserve each other's lives.


In his first letter to the people at Corinth, the apostle Paul reminds us that mature Christians are those who give up the child's ego-driven ways -- the child's "Me!" and "Mine!" and "I want!" Paul writes: "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways" (1 Cor. 13:11).

Gracious God, love us into change.
Love us, so we can learn love ourselves.
Help us love ourselves, so we can learn to love others.
Help us love others, so we can learn to love You.
Gracious God, love us into change
so we may be like You.
Amen.
Mayo Clinic surgeons Elvis Francois and William Robinson singing in March 2020 for all of us. Dr. Francois writes: " In life, there are so many things that divide us. Religion, race, politics, social status and so much more....But today a global pandemic brings us all together as one.. . . There is something beautiful about a collective struggle. And the beauty in what we are facing today is that the only way to overcome this pandemic is for us to all come together as one."
Prayer for Our Way Forward

Our Church Council members have been in prayer for our church from April to July. Everyone can join the Council in prayer – here’s how:

The question to lay before God each day is

“Why did You call together — here and now, in 2020 — this group of elders who are engaged in the arts, the community, and personal and spiritual growth?”
 
Then become silent and listen for the still, small voice of God –
the voice that says “do not be afraid” to leave the known ways behind
and speaks of the new life and opportunity we are being led into.
 
For your daily prayer time (30-60 minutes), you may want to:

Sit – dropping down below your opinions and your known experience — and listen for the revelation that is coming to you
Walk – engaging your natural breath and rhythm – and observe the revelation that is coming to you
 
Attend to the invitation you are beginning to hear in the stillness.
It should be larger than anything you can control or direct.
You will not know the way . . .
 
What you bring to the next meeting will be something brand new.
It will not be something you have shared at Council before.
It will not be something you know how to do.
It must be something you are willing to give yourself to wholeheartedly –
and it will necessitate your personal and full participation.
As one colleague reminded me 9 years ago when I left California, after living there 31 years, to move to a new life in North, and then South, Dakota: 
“The proof of God’s leading is that we shall end up where we never intended to go.”
            -- Pastor Anne
Sanford Center Summer Program

Sanford Center began their summer programming.  They are running very low and will run out of snacks, cereal, and drinks this week if we do not help them with donations. We as a community need to step up and meet our committment to provide them with these items. If you can donate anything please do so.

FCUCC members are asked to provide cereal and individually wrapped snacks and juice boxes/water for these children. You may bring your items to church and place them in the shopping cart in the front narthex. The church office is open M-F 10-2. OR you may drop your purchases off at the Sanford Center at 1700 Geneva St. IF you would prefer to send a check to the Sanford Center for snack purchases, that would also be appreciated. Please make your check to the Sanford Center and write “FCUCC Summer Snacks” in the memo line. 
The mailing address is:

SANFORD CENTER
1700 Geneva St
Sioux City, IA 51103

A Note from Dick Owens:

The Missions Committee has provided information about how we can continue to support the Sanford's Center Summer Program. Here is some additional information to consider. 

A main need for the Sanford Center providing the Summer Program is money. Due to the pandemic, we were not able to hold our spring fund raiser at the Orpheum. That money was what we have used in the past to fund some of the programming costs. Knowing we would be facing a deficit, the Center has been able to get meals provided through a free food program in cooperation with the Stella Sanford Center. That is working well. But the lack of the fund raising dollars, the Center is hard pressed to cover all of the salaries and other programming cost. Because of this need, I am suggesting that we consider making financial donations to the Center to assist them. Please give this some serious thought and let's see what we can manage. I know Verlee and I will be doing this sometime this week. Any amount will be appreciated.

Thanks. Dick Owens 

THANK YOU for your support of this important ministry to some of our community's most impacted children.
Missions Committee
The FCUCC Building is Closed Until at Least September 1st
Our Hearts and Hands are Wide Open!

Due to the Public Health Emergency,
UCC Church Buildings in IA, NE, SD are Closed into the Fall
Keep the Connection -- Join us on “Zoom”
Todd Siefker will be sending out an invitation link right before each event.
6:30 pm Wednesday – Weekly Reflection Time
1:00 pm Friday -- Friday Bible Study with Pastor Anne
9:30 am Sunday – The Admiration Series: Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
10:30 am Sunday – Worship, Sermon, & Prayer


ZOOM Meetings – Be Sure to Invite Others!
 
Invite your friends to attend the Wednesday night, Friday, or Sunday morning sessions.
Each of us knows people who need connection during this time. You can send your friends the invitation link or send their emails to Todd so he can send them the invitation. This is a way to reach out and enlarge our caring community!
 
Before each Zoom session, you will receive an email invitation to the session. By clicking on the link included in the invitation, you can join the session.
 
On Wednesday evenings, at 6:30 pm Todd Siefker will lead a reflection time.
 
Sunday mornings will be a 2-part session from 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.
  • At 9:30 a.m. Todd Siefker will lead the Admiration Series. This Sunday we'll discuss Chapter 4 of Richard Rohr’s book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.
  •  At 10:30 a.m. Pastor Anne will lead a Worship Service.
You can join in at any time during the morning by using the Zoom link.
Sunday Tech Buddies Needed

Our Council is attempting to include all members into our Sunday Zoom church services. To do this we have been brainstorming in several options. One of these is to set up Sunday Tech Buddies. To do this we need to:

  • Get a few Chrome Books (or the like) and set up to do Zooming. 
  • Find a few volunteers who have “hot spots” on their phones, and who are willing to be Sunday Tech Buddies.
  • Have the Sunday Tech Buddies bring a Chrome Book and their “hot spot” to those who do not have internet access. They would share the church service in a socially distanced way (masks, 6’ apart, using hand sanitizer before and after). 

If you have a “hot spot” on your phone and are willing to be a Sunday Tech Buddy to someone who cannot attend church right now, but would like to, give Tiffany Watts or Lois Darrow a call and we will begin working on this project. Call Tiffany at 712-239-3385 or Lois at 712-490-5969.  
Friday Bible Study with Pastor Anne -- July 3rd at 1:00 pm
Although we're not meeting at Pierce Street Coffee Works right now, we can connect our tables together on Zoom.
Join Pastor Anne at 1:00 pm to reflect on the ways Scripture guides us in expanding God's Welcome Table in these challenging times.

Live Streaming Project Proposal

The church council is considering a project to enable streaming (broadcasting) of church services and other programs. The project is summarized in THIS FLYER (click here).
Please take this opportunity to read the information and, if appropriate, respond with your thoughts and ideas. Our Council is considering making these upgrades while we are not in our sanctuary for services.

The idea is that we could move ahead with this project in a timely manner.
Your input, please!
-Jim France
Marly Van Berkum’s sister
Marly Van Berkum’s brother-in-law
Leone Eidsmoe & family       
Katherine Trautman
Hazel Blaine
Mike and Deb Timblin
Ginger France’s sister
Tia Iddings
Mark Schmedinghoff
Greg Johnson
Greg Gregerson’s father
Roberta Pendleton’s family
The Bilka Family
Betty Schwerin
Ruth Holder’s granddaughter
Jay Rosenberg
Jay Rosenberg’s mother
Bud Ziebell
Ty Ridgway
Joan Lewis
Leo Leonard
Luan McQuown & All Teachers
Checking in With Each Other

Remember to “check in” with the person(s) before you and after you in the last church directory. We want to make sure everyone is connected during this time.


Prayer & Support For Our Local Restaurants
Although the "Foodies" may not be able to meet in person, we can still pray! s
This week, we're praying for, and supporting, the owners and the staff at both Alfredo's restaurants in Sioux City. If you plan to order from a restaurant this week, order from Alfredo's. We'll be bringing a "gift bag" to the good people at both Alfredo's to let them know the members of FCUCC are in prayer for them

Zesto's Furniture Giveaway hosted by Mayflower Church

Mayflower Church and Zestos has partnered up to help the community in giving away free furniture to those in need and has asked that we help with spreading the word. If anyone needs the flyer or knows a family that may be in need, please email Tiffany and she can send a copy of the flyer for you.

Zestos will be giving an assortment of furniture away for free at the Mayflower Church Lawn on July 11 at 9-10a.m. They will be requiring that health precautions are observed - wearing a mask, entering only at designated areas (watch for the posted signs) and social distancing. Delivery is NOT available.

Moving-On Box Needs
Bath Towels/Hand Towels
Washcloths
Toasters
Cake Pans
Silverware
The Soup Kitchen

The Soup Kitchen is running very low on food right now and have requested donations. Gift Cards from Faraway, Hyvee, Walmart, etc. would be greatly appreciated. They have served over 8000 meals since the beginning of the Pandemic and the need is growing. You can drop the cards off at the Soup Kitchen or Mail them to:

717 W. 7th Street
Suoix City, Iowa 51103

If you would like to donate food or gift cards but do not wish to drop them off there, you can contact Tiffany in the office (during office hours) and she can facilitate getting the donations to The Soup Kitchen.

Click the link below to see their current needs list on their Facebook page:



Support Our Local Restaurants

This week, we're praying for, and supporting, the owners and the staff at both Alfredo's restaurants in Sioux City. If you plan to order from a restaurant, order from Alfredo's. We'll be bringing a "gift bag" to the good people at that restaurant to let them know the members of FCUCC are in prayer for them.
Remember to Support FCUCC Financially During this Time!


During this COVID-19 event, having no in-person services has impacted our normal income. Thank you to those who have mailed in checks!


FCUCC Finances for May 2020

Giving in May amounted to $6,590, all from mail-in and online giving.

You can help us stay on track by mailing in your check or setting up an automatic payment from your bank. You can also contribute through a simple app called Tithe.ly.  
        Tithe.ly is our online, app and web-based giving system. Tithe.ly is convenient because it:
·          Accepts debit, credit or bank account info
·          Can be set up for a one-time payment, or automatic regular payments
·          Can be changed at any time (there are no contracts or commitments)
Go to  http://get.tithe.ly   to sign up online, or download the app on any iPhone/Apple or Android device.
Rummage Sale
For those of you doing your spring house cleaning during this time, there is plenty of room to store things you wish to get rid of. Just bring them to church when Tiffany is in the office (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and she will open the doors for you.
Sharing Our Community Memories and God Moments
 
In the spirit of Pastor Al Hohl's book on Prayer we've been talking about the importance of Remembering. To Pastor Hohl, forgetting is not the opposite of remembering. He says that DISmembering is actually the opposite of REmembering. He writes, "...to not remember is to tear apart. What we tear apart runs the risk of being scattered in our imaginations" (Hohl 2020, 172). I believe we would rather not run this risk. 

We are starting our own Story Corps Project. We would like your story about how this faith community has benefited your life in written, audio recorded, or video recorded format. Please send them to Todd at tsiefker@gmail.com or back to Tiffany at our church email at office@firstcongregational.net. In case you need some prompts from Pastor Anne to get started, here are a few that might help:

  • I came to FCUCC because . . .
  • The person or group here who has made the most difference in my life is __ because . . . 
  • I learned something new here that deepened my faith when . . .
  • I was able to make a difference in the community/wider world through FCUCC when . . .
  • A time I met God through FCUCC was . . .
  • A favorite memory I have of my time with FCUCC is . . .
Church Office Hours

Monday - Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.


Church Staff:
Rev. Dr. Anne Dilenschneider, Interim Pastor


Tiffany Watts, Church Administrator

Todd Siefker, Intergenerational Coordinator

Rick Darrow, Organist

Nate Hettinger, Choir Director
Church Contact Information

(712) 239-3385
office@firstcongregational.net
www.1stcongregationalucc.org

(605) 906-5404 (Cell)
leadwithsoul@mac.com

office@firstcongregational.net

tsiefker@gmail.com

darrowpipe@aol.com

hettingern@morningside.edu
4600 Hamilton Boulevard
Sioux City, IA 51104
(712) 239-3385