Before I went to seminary I spent a year and a half at Penn State doing graduate work in religious studies. Most of my classwork and compulsory reading was in the field of American religious history. But I had introductory classes and reading in biblical scholarship and theology and religious philosophy. One of the mandatory reads was Martin Buber's I and Thou. Buber was a 20th century Jewish philosopher. He was heavily influenced by the strand/sect of Judaism known as Hasidism. I have always loved the Hasidic interpretation of the creation story which says that in the beginning the light of God was shattered into billions of tiny shards that came to be lodged in every being in creation. Every person, animal, plant and stone has a spark of God in them. And the work of our lifetime and every lifetime is to repair the brokenness, to bring the light back together - Tikkun Olam.
The Cliff Note's version of Buber's I and Thou is that most of the time we treat other people, animals, plants and stones as objects - to be studied, categorized, commercialized, used. There is a good side and a bad side to treating others as an "it". The good side is that we learn everything there is to learn about everything. This is where the scientific method shines. The bad side is that we abuse and misuse these others and fail to see the shard of God's light that is there. In I and Thou Buber famously asked his readers to consider sitting with a tree, and suggested that it was possible - indeed necessary - to be able to see the tree as a thou, a living being, a force of life, the very presence of God. Only by being able to see others as a Thou - a presence of God - can we be healed of our own brokenness and allow our own light of God to shine more brightly.
While I was in graduate school one of my uncles who was then career military and a lifelong Methodist asked me to give him something to read from my graduate studies. I and Thou is a very short book and very accessible. So I gave him my copy. The next time I saw him he gave it back and said it was total bull****. The idea of having a relationship with a tree in particular was ridiculous. "Your education is a waste of someone's money." Or something close to that, he said. I laughed.
He was wrong about my education and he was wrong about trees. It is now abundantly clear that our inability to see trees and forests - and prairies too - as living organisms that are worthy of our respect, reverence and care is putting our planet and our very existence at peril. This has been our theme for the month - the wisdom of trees in scripture, myth and science. Last week I showed this video. Watch it to the end. Leave it to a child to speak the truth we need to hear.
Tomorrow after worship we have our annual budget meeting. If you haven't turned in your pledge yet you can email it to Linda Hoskins.
We have been working on updating our directory. A draft is attached. If you see any changes that need to be made please send them along. Thanks.
Finally, we are once again participating in 360 Communities Armful of Love. Wrapped gifts need to be returned by Sunday, November 25. More details below. Thanks to Cindy Reardon for coordinating this.
Here is the update for the week.
Choir Rehearsal: 8:50; Sunday Service – 10:00am
11/18: Children’s Story – Kristin Standafer; Nursery – Jan Johnosn; Treats – Jan Johnson
11/25: Children’s Story – Janet Westenberg; Nursery – Howie & Vicky Goplin; Treats – Corrine Kroehler
12/2: Children’s Story – Rhonda Gingrich; Nursery – Rhonda Gingrich; Treats – Cindy Reardon
Support for Rowan and Mabel
Rowan – CaringBridge site
Mabel - MealTrain; FB Page.
The wisdom of trees in scripture, myth, and science.
On the second Sunday of the month our worship hour becomes a discussion hour. After opening music the children go downstairs for an education time and the adults have a time for discussion around the theme for the day. Shortly before community meal time the children rejoin us and we have a closing song and prayer.
Annual Budget Meeting
Sunday, November 18 after worship. Pledge drive will commence soon, with budget and pledge card coming in an email attachment.
Armful of Love
360 Communities Armful of Love matches families in need with donors across the south metro. Open Circle has been participating in this Christmas gift-giving program for many years. This year we have adopted two families in need. Take an ornament from the wall, purchase the gift, wrap it, and attach the ornament to the outside so we know what it is. Return the gifts by Sunday, November 25. Thanks to Cindy Reardon for coordinating this.
SCRIP - Christmas Orders
We will be collecting prepaid scrip orders for Christmas through Sunday, 12/2 with delivery on 12/16. We will accept orders paid by PrestoPay through 12/8. Kristin Standafer will be collecting orders and checks/cash at church through 12/2. The current retailer list with available denominations and rebate percentage is attached.
Scrip Account Holders: You may place your order via your account. If you pay with PrestoPay, please note that the funds will be withdrawn immediately even though the cards will not be delivered until 12/16. If you choose to pay with a check, get your check to Kristin by 12/2 or mail your check to Nicole Giesen (address below) no later than Friday, 12/7.
Please email Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org directly with any questions.
Guest Speaker December 2
David Radcliff from New Community Project will be joining us on Sunday, December 2. David has spoken at Open Circle several times over the past years and we always enjoy his message and enthusiasm.
Child Care Volunteers
At Open Circle, we value our children as important members of our community. As part of our ministry to families with children, we provide nursery care for pre-school-age children and simple coloring and craft activities for older children during worship. We are blessed to have a growing number of children, but this requires more help each Sunday. If you would like to be part of the rotation providing care for our children, please contact Rhonda Pittman Gingrich at email@example.com as soon as possible. The winter/spring schedule will be prepared in the coming weeks. Volunteers usually serve about once every 6-8 weeks.
Each Sunday there are activity tables set up in the corner of the sanctuary. There is paper and crayons, playdough, and sometimes other things used in conjunction with the theme for the day. These are for children and adults who want to quietly be active while staying in the service.
Food Shelf Collection
All items are donated to the 360 Communities Food Shelf in Burnsville or Rosemount. Some items that are especially in need right now are diapers, canned meals (like chili or stew), and laundry detergent (pods are recommended as they can divvy them up easily). Please help if you can.
Caregiving Response Team
From time to time we have a member in the hospital or recuperating at home from surgery or illness, or someone with another need like moving from one home to another. If we know about the need, we would like to notify our community and ask for help. It could be a meal, a card, a visit, or getting a group of people together to perform a task. If you know of someone who has a need, please feel free to contact Katy Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org 612-750-0263 or Jay Steele at email@example.com.
Brethren Bucks - OCC Scrip Program
Participating in our scrip program has never been easier! Visit the Brethren Bucks link on the church website for more information and to sign up for this great program that pays Open Circle to shop. Nicole Giesen is our scrip coordinator and can be reached at 952-200-4672 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer cash-n-carry gift cards for several retailers on most Sundays.
Children at Open Circle
School-aged children are invited to remain in the sanctuary during worship; quiet activities are available for them in the basket near the bulletin rack in the entry. A nursery, staffed by volunteers, is available during worship for infants, toddlers, and pre-school age children as needed. On the second Sunday of every month we offer an education time for children. After the opening songs children go downstairs and have age appropriate activities centered around a bible story or seasonal theme. If you have questions about our ministry with children, please contact Rhonda Pittman Gingrich.
Open Circle Finances
We thank you for your financial contributions; they make possible the mission and ministries of our great congregation. Contributions can now be debited automatically from your checking or savings account. Forms are available at the top of
the stairs. Please talk to Mark Gingrich (email@example.com) or Linda Hoskins (firstname.lastname@example.org), if you have any questions or want to register. Contributions can also be made through the website. Click on the "Donate to Open Circle" link on the website home page (www.opencirclechurch.com).
OCC on the web at www.opencirclechurch.com where you can find the most updated volunteer lists, the weekly update, podcasts of Sunday messages, the church calendar, pictures of life at Open Circle, and more.
OCC on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/OpenCircleChurch
Peace to all,
Jay H. Steele