(Posted January 22, 2016)
As we turn the page from Christmas and look anew at 2016’s calendar for First Church, two words jump off the page for us: Music and Mercy. Music for our new concert series, and Mercy for the theme of our new, upcoming “Second Hour” speakers and topics.
Jim Moriarty is kicking off a series of up and coming emerging musicians who will be joining us for the next four months on Sunday afternoons (a great thing to invite your friends to). Time: 2 p.m. Cost: $15.00 at the door.
January 31 - Ferdy Talan, Classical Pianist
February 21 – Levon Ofgang, Classical Guitar
March 13 – Cyrus von Hochstetter, Jazz Pianist
This year for Lent, I’m introducing a once-a-month event during coffee hour on topics that have to do with the concept of Mercy. I’m taking a cue from Pope Francis on this one. He’s declared 2016 as “the Year of Mercy.” It’s a word that has many meanings within it, from forgiveness, to generosity, to compassion. We’ll visit topics from mental health to giving, plus other topics you might want to suggest.
Our Lenten Series is entitled “Mercy/Me,” because every time we find mercy, we find a greater sense of “me.” We’ll welcome outside experts talking on their fields during and after Coffee Hour, and they will be accepting any questions you might have on the topic.
Our First Mercy/Me speaker on February 7 starting at 11:15 a.m. will be Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney Ann Fowler Cruz, who will discuss any questions you might have about your wills and charitable giving through planned gifts. This is a chance to ask a professional any kind of question you may have about planning for you and your family’s future, plus the tax advantages of remembering your favorite charity in your will.
Our second Mercy/Me speaker on Sunday March 6 will be Psychotherapist Anne Lord Wennerstrand. Ms. Wennerstrand will be on hand to talk about depression – in its various forms, how to recognize it, how to understand the life of those with bipolar disorder, and how to help someone whose depression may be leading them to the brink of suicide.
Our third Mercy/Me speaker will be April 10, and I have left the topic open to see what other topics you all might like to hear an expert speak on.
We know that mercy was a topic close to Jesus’ heart because, in his recitation of the Beatitudes, he placed it among the first things he mentioned. “Blessed are the merciful,” he said, “because they shall obtain mercy.” It’s a good thing to focus on during the Lenten season as we pause to contemplate our own brokenness. One of the most famous scenes in Matthew’s gospel shows us what Jesus meant by mercy: And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, `I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."
Between our Music and our Mercy, may this upcoming Lenten season be healing for all of us. (A copy of our First Church Three Month Calendar will be coming to you in the next week.) -- Pastor Pat Kriss