February 2007

First in faith, freedom, fellowship, and Wauwatosa


Table of Contents

‘Holy Conversations’ Highlight
Lenten Program


Worship, Music and Programs
Provide Rich Lenten Experience

Program Briefs

Minister's Musings

Bowling Together

Sunday Symposium

Breakfast with the Girls
GIRLS NIGHT OUT

Family Film: New Date

Munchkin Matters

PF Place

Youthful Reflections

Chili Cook-Off Winners Share Recipes

Want to Explore Congregationalism?

Lectionary Readings



‘Holy Conversations’ Highlight
Lenten Program


In place of various small group offerings this Lent, members of the church are being asked to come together to have a “Holy Conversation” and engage three questions:
• Who are we?
• What has God called us to do or be?
• Who is our neighbor?

Each Wednesday in Lent (Feb. 28 to March 28) we will gather at 6:30 p.m. in the Social Hall for a time of worship and group reflection to engage these questions to reach greater discernment as a congregation. We will follow the ideas expressed in a book of the same title by Alban Institute consultants Gil Rendle and Alice Mann. Most congregational planning is a technical endeavor where the leader serves as the chief problem solver and the goal is finding “the solution to the problem.” Holy Conversations, on the other hand, suggests a spiritual approach that is faithful to a congregation’s unique identity and their relationship with God.

On February 28, we will begin at 6 p.m. with a spaghetti dinner prepared by John Sgarlata. Childcare will be available by reservation for these programs.


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Worship, Music and Programs
Provide Rich Lenten Experience

Our 2007 Lenten program provides you with rich opportunities for worship, reflection, prayer and enjoyment. A number of gifted musical artists and spiritual leaders from outside our own congregation will join us.

Ash Wednesday Worship Service
Feb. 21 at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Quiet Day & Labyrinth
March 3, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Come to pray, meditate, walk the labyrinth and hear area ministers speak about the spiritual journey. Come for the whole day, or drop in for a portion of the day. You are asked to keep silence so that you might hear the voice of the Spirit. In the Social Hall will be a large canvas labyrinth that takes up most of the room. It is a single-path circuit that leads to the center, then back out, to quiet the mind when walked purposefully. Chapel talks are scheduled through the day:
• The Rev. Cindy Bacon, from Heritage Congregational Church in Madison, 9 a.m.,
• The Rev. Jamie Washam, from Underwood Baptist Church, noon
• The Rev. Gary B. Manning, from Trinity Episcopal Church, 3 p.m.
A simple box lunch (to be eaten in silence) will be available by reservation for $5.

Jill Bruss in Concert
March 4, 4 p.m.
Our own Jill Bruss reprises her recent concert tour of Norway and Denmark and shares portions of her own spiritual journey. The concert also features original music with the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore, noted spiritual poet from India.

4 O’clock Concerts
March 11, 25 & April 15, 4 p.m.
Music Director Lee Jacobi again presents a delightful trio of diverse performers in our 4 O’clock Concert series. On March 11, “Stas” Venglesvski will dazzle us with his command of the accordion. On March 25, vocalist Laura Snyder returns with her powerful ensemble of spirituals and hymns. On April 15, we welcome Milwaukee organist Karen Beaumont.

Choral Evensong
March 18, 4 p.m.
Evensong worship is scripture set to music. This simple service lifts heart and mind to God with the metrical singing of psalms and anthems by the choir.

Jazz Service at Trinity
March 25, 7 p.m.
While Lent is a time for introspection, it is also a time to open our hearts and express the fullness of our human yearning to God. What better way (musically) than with jazz? We are co-sponsoring this event with Trinity Episcopal down the street.

 

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Program Briefs

Faith and Film
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m.
Lounge
This powerful motion picture has become a modern classic with the theme of hope in the most unlikely of places—a prison. The movie is adapted from the short story by Stephen King. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman portray two imprisoned men (one of whom is innocent) who bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. The film is rich in religious themes, including rebirth and covenant. “Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free,” said the movie posters and you will experience both in this superb work. Rated R for language and prison violence.

Make it a date night with a movie and dessert after dinner! Come relax on the sofas and enjoy premium coffees, desserts and (of course) popcorn.

 

Church Council Retreat
‘Blessed Church’

Members of our Church Council have been reading the book Becoming a Blessed Church: Forming a Church of Spiritual Purpose, Presence, and Power by N. Graham Standish. In the book Standish is concerned with a church actually being a place where God is experienced, not merely talked about. He writes with the Christian mainline (that’s us) in mind. The Church Council will gather on Feb. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for reflection, dialogue and prayer, as they continue discernment on how we might become more of a “blessed church.”

If you want to know what the conversation’s about, there are several copies in the library, under “Church Leadership.”

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Minister's Musings

A Love to “Die For”

Well, it’s February and the quiet time between the Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter cycles. The high point for many during this time is Valentine’s Day on February 14, the day when Saint Valentine (either of Rome or of Terni, depending on which historian you believe) was martyred sometime late in the second century. We can find lots of information about the day and how folks have come to associate it with romantic love, but I want to use Valentine to focus on our association together as a community of faith.

Valentine was a martyr, a person willing to give up everything, even life itself, for the love of God. Tertullian, one of the teachers of the early church, wrote that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” In other words, it is from the willingness of people to give the last full measure of self that the church grows. There are parts of the world where this is yet true. However, here in the US we can’t get many people to even give an hour a week or a dollar a day for the sake of the church, even though statistically 90 percent of people say they believe in God and 50 percent say that they attend church (the truth is that church attendance peaked in the 1950s at 49 percent and has been shrinking since then). In short, we live at a time when people talk about how important their faith is to them while the actual living of it goes begging. Why?

I wish I had the answer to the question – I’d write a book and retire! However, in my heart-of-hearts I believe that it’s because our Christian faith isn’t foundational for many. Belief in God and all that goes with it is just what is “expected” or “needed” in order to live a “moral life.” Yet, there has to be more than that in order to be willing to give up one’s very life. We hear the expression “to die for,” but rarely does it really mean what it says. Valentine and many others, including the Pilgrims, were willing to risk their lives for what they believed because it was real to them. God wasn’t just an abstract concept, but someone they had come to know and to love – because they had been known and loved. Their love of God and their love of one another was, indeed, “to die for.” Where did they come to this knowledge? Where did they experience this love? They found it in those who had been “called out” and joined together as God’s people – the Church. Perhaps we’ve come to talk about faith more (all of us have met people who say “I’m spiritual, but I don’t go to church” or “I don’t believe in organized religion” – for the latter, tell them to become Congregationalists!) and live it less because the church has ceased to be a place of vital spiritual contact?

We have an opportunity as a church, as God’s gathered people, to be the kind of vital, exciting place of spiritual contact that allows people to know God and make a difference in their world. It begins with our coming to understand who we are, what God wants of us, and who our neighbor is. We will take time during Lent to enter into what Gil Rendle and Alice Mann, Alban Institute consultants, call “holy conversations” with God and with one another. Our conversations will take place on the five Wednesday evenings between Ash Wednesday (February 21) and Holy Week. We’ll get together and ask ourselves those basic questions. Then we’ll begin to see where our answers take us. I cannot stress too strongly how important it is for as many of our folk as possible to join these conversations. It is my hope, and my prayer, that we’ll have more than just “the core” or “the usual suspects” in attendance. We need to hear from every side of this conversation across the spectrums of age, gender, involvement and every other category of life at First Church if we are to really experience the full benefit of the process. So, please make these five Lenten Wednesdays a priority – here’s a chance for us to talk about our faith in the right way for a change.

As I bring my musings to a close this month I’d like to offer some words of gratitude. First, Julie and I would like to thank all of the people who sent Christmas greetings and other remembrances. We were touched by your kindness. Second, I would like to thank the congregation for allowing me some time to pursue several research and writing projects during January. I plan to be better about taking this time you give me as a part of my compensation and hope, too, that my ministry here will be enhanced and richer as a result of it. Finally, will you, all of you, be my “Valentine”? Not with a paper heart or even chocolate, but through God’s love made real in covenant relationship – something truly “to die for.” I remain:

Yours in God’s love,
Steve
Rev. Steven A. Peay, Ph.D.
Senior Minister

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Bowling Together

by Jill Schaeffer

It’s a strike! We’ll gather at Highland Lanes, 5830 W. Vliet Street on Sunday, Feb. 18, from 2-5 p.m., to relax and bowl a few frames. The cost is $10 per person for three games and shoe rental. The facility has only eight lanes, so we’ll have the place to ourselves.
Snacks will be provided by the church. Beverages will be available to purchase. Pilgrim Fellowship youth and their families are invited, as this event takes the place of PF that day. For the even younger set, bumper bowling is available. Sign up in the office by Feb. 11 so we can prepare. We need at least 20 people to make it a go. For more information, contact Jill Schaeffer.

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Sunday Symposium

Sundays 10 a.m.
Friendship Lounge

Feb. 4
Paul in Macedonia Series
Uproar in Thessalonica: Political strategy and the growth
of the church (Acts 17)
Dan Schowalter

Feb. 11
Paul in Macedonia Series
Success at Beroea: What was so noble about the Jews who
lived there? (Acts 17)
Dan Schowalter

Feb. 18
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lent
Dan Schowalter and friends (Sam Schaal and Steve Peay) give various perspectives on the season of Lent.

Feb. 25
The Spiritual Poetry of
Rabindranath Tagore
Sam Schaal
Tagore, a Hindu, has been called one of the most overlooked spiritual writers of our time. He was awarded the 1913 Nobel prize for literature.

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Breakfast with the Girls
GIRLS NIGHT OUT

Hello ladies of the church. Happy New Year from Breakfast With the Girls. We thought it would be fun to start off the new year with another Girls Night Out, so we'll be hostessing this year’s night on Wednesday, February 7. The Venice Club will once again be our location and we'll start at 5:30 with a social time including cash bar. Dinner will begin at 6:15 and this year's menu will include Caesar salad, Chicken Sarafina, an Italian medley of vegtables, rolls and apple cake. A program entitled, "Verbally Inspired" will be presented by The Acacia Theater Group. We're looking forward to this special event and hope to see you there. Feel free to bring a friend or neighbor to share the night out! Reservations must be prepaid ($15.00) at the church office by January 28. We had a wonderful turnout last year and we're hoping for the same again.

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Family Film: New Date

February's Family Film will be held Friday, Feb.16 at 6 p.m. instead of the usual fourth Friday. This is so kids can participate in both this event and the 30-Hour Famine. Continuing our string of animated-comedies-with-a-point, the movie of the month is “Ant Bully.” Lucas is sick of getting picked on by a neighborhood bully, so he decides to take it out on the ants in his front yard. Little does he suspect that the ants might shrink him down to their size to teach him a lesson or two. It's rated PG for potty humor (including a bare bottom) and some ant-sized peril. Voice actors include Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Bruce Campbell and Regina King. And yes, kids. There will be pizza. :-) Cost is $3 per person. Kids five and under free.

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Munchkin Matters

Bullies
Our family movie for February is "Ant Bully." This sets the scene for March 13 at 7 p.m. when Jim Jalinski will be offering a seminar on Bullying "No Child Should Be Afraid to Go to School: Preventing Bullying and Harassment." Obviously bullying is nothing new. We like to remember bygone days as happier, safer times. Yet most of us reading this, even the eldest, can still recall a vivid and painful memory 20, 40, 60 years later. In fact, some of us still work (or live) with bullies today. Please give careful consideration to this seminar. The discussion is directed toward adults, so we'll provide child care. (Maybe we'll watch "Ant Bully" again, so that you'll have something to chat about on the way home!)


Lent 101
Lent. Isn't that when you loan something and they don't give it back? Lent is actually an ancient Christian practice. Though its shape and content have changed with the times, the general purpose has remained the same: to prepare one's heart for Easter. Through disciplines such as prayer, fasting and service the Christian tries to pull out of the day to day grind into something more intentional and meaningful.

This can be a great family experience because it's flexible and it lasts long enough to actually sink in. Are there any spiritual disciplines you'd like to try as a family? Something to quit? Something to add? Something to do just because it's good, not because it's easy? Talk about it as a family, and keep working on it all through Lent. Even failing at a discipline is part of the discipline as long as you don't give up! Here are some samples to get you started:
• Eat one meal a day (or week) as a family.
• Volunteer to prepare and/or serve food for St. Vincent.
• No TV on Thursdays (play Monopoly instead).
• Reduce your food budget and work together to make it stretch the whole month. Donate the money you save to someone who needs it.


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PF Place

Superbowl Party @ the Brink's
Come catch the game (and of course the commercials) Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. Jr/Sr PF'ers and their parents are invited. Bring your own drink and a party snack; we'll order the pizza. Dress in your team's colors, and you might win a prize for Best Superfan!

30-Hour Famine Overnighter
This year's famine falls on Feb. 23–24, 6 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday. We'll be teaming up with North Shore, Ozaukee, and Trinity Episcopal. First, we catch an Admirals game, then we head back to Trinity for some fellowship time, then it's back to FCC for some much-needed sleep. The next day we'll head out to Nehemiah House for a service project, and finish up back at FCC. Because some parents had concerns about young kids fasting for long periods of time, participants this year have two options:
1. Fast from food for 30 hours.
2. 15-hour food fast + 15 hour media fast (TV, computer, radio, Playstation, iPod, phone, Gameboy, etc. etc.)

If your child has a medical issue that prevents his/her safe participation in even a 15-hour fast, please contact me. My goal for those with serious medical concerns is to work out special arrangements that are both meaningful and safe.

P.S. We need drivers for both days. Available? Contact me at:
brinkr@firstchurchtosa.org

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Youthful Reflections
Church is About Questions

Jesus’ disciples first called themselves followers of the Way. Those early disciples understood intuitively what we so often forget, that faith is not a destination, but a journey. Growing up, I spent a long time being very certain I was right. I could prove everything that I believed by direct quotes from scripture, and I could prove (to my satisfaction at least) the inerrancy of the Bible.

But there was a problem. Since my beliefs were my key to heaven, and all my beliefs rested directly on scripture, I had to believe that the Bible was true. All my proofs were just props supporting my forgone conclusion. (That’s overstating it a bit, but the criticism is still fundamentally true.) Since the Bible was my foundation, anything that undermined it undermined my world.

Don’t get me wrong. I still see the Bible as valuable, critical even, but for different reasons. It’s about how

we live and learn. Do we really act logically and objectively, or do we react intuitively and imaginatively? Do we learn most often by testing propositions or by simply living? Eli learns about gravity by dropping stuff over and over. Aiden learns about humor by accidentally doing things that make us laugh.

What does this mean for the Bible? It’s not an instruction manual or a checklist; it’s a storybook. Manuals are boring and limited. Checklists provide content without life. But stories are compelling and relational. Stories teach us so well specifically because they engage our imagination and our intuition.

They don’t have to be perfect to be true. They can change slightly over time and location and still be true. In fact, they can be fiction and still be true. (Not that I think the Bible is fiction, but I can live with people who do without automatically condemning them.) I used to ask, “What does the author want me to believe?” Now I ask, “What’s the point of this story?” Try it. It’s fun!
Rev. Rob Brink
Associate Minister

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Chili Cook-Off Winners Share Recipes

More than 60 people enjoyed another great chili cook-off in January, with a number of excellent cooks submitting their unique creations for a taste test. After "secret" balloting, the winners were announced by master of ceremonies Rob Brink. Molly Harmon won first place for the second year running, while Brian Hawthorne and John Sgarlata tied for second place.

The Fellowship Board thanks all who attended and all who worked together to make this event another success. Special thanks to John Sgarlata and Kate Welch for the delicious batches of chili (mild, medium, and hot) for general consumption. See you all next year!

Molly Harmon's Chili with Chorizo Sausage
First place
3 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
2 cans Northern Navy Beans, drained & rinsed
2 (4 oz-sized) cans chopped green chilies
1 can cream chicken soup, undiluted
1 can cream celery soup, undiluted
1 can garbonzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups half and half cream
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbl vegetable oil
1 Tbl oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup water
2 chicken bullion cubes
2 garlic cloves-minced
2 Usingers chorizo Mexican sausages (grill or fry even though they come pre-cooked)
Sauté onion, garlic in oil until brown, add meat. Add this to a slow cooker with other ingredients and cook for 4 hours on high or 7 hours on low. Tastes better the next day. If you want spicier, add 1 fresh diced jalapeno pepper and sauté with the onion and garlic.

John Sgarlata's Cincinnati Style Chili
Tied for second place

3 onions
18 cloves garlic, sliced
6 tsps Neuske’s bacon fat
Slowly sauté

4 lbs. ground beef chuck, browned with juice
12 oz. Canadian bacon (Usingers), chopped
16 oz. Italian sausage, cooked and chopped
3 (16 oz.-size) cans tomato sauce
1 (28 oz.-size) can chopped tomatoes, drained
2 tsps red wine vinegar
1 (8 oz.-size) can mild green chili peppers, chopped
2 tsps dark brown sugar
4 tsps medium chili powder
2 tsps sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsps ground coriander
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp sweet basil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3 bay leaves, crumbled

Brian Hawthorne's Havana Moon Chili
Tied for second place

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground chuck
1 (14 1/2 oz-size) can beef broth
1 (28 oz-size) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup raisins
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, halved
1/4 cup slivered blanched almonds
2 cups cooked black beans
2 cups cooked white rice
Brian's twist was to use a can of beer instead of the beef broth. He chose Miller Lite (to support a local company)

Heat the vegetable oil in a Dutch oven. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add the pork and beef, and cook until browned. Drain off the excess fat. Add the beef broth and tomatoes, squashing each tomato by hand before adding it. Stir in the vinegar, raisins, spices and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and cook 30 minutes, partially covered. Uncover and cook for 30 minutes more. Add the olives and almonds and cook an additional 5 minutes. To serve, place a mound of beans and a mound of rice in each bowl. Ladle the chili on top. Serves 4 to 6.

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Want to Explore Congregationalism?

Are you thinking about membership in our church? Or just want more information on Congregational history and practice? Another series of our New Member Explorer classes will be 6:30-8 p.m. on Sundays beginning Feb. 11 through March 11.

Each session focuses on one part of our covenant to give you a broad introduction to our faith. It’s also a great way to meet new people; both other class members and various lay and staff leaders who attend each session, And we also make it fun! Dr. Peay and Rev. Schaal facilitate. To register, please call the church office at 414-258-7375. Child care is available if you’ll let us know.

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Lectionary Readings

Texts used in Sunday worship


February 5
5th Sunday after the Epiphany
Old Testament Isaiah 6:1–8 (9–13)
Psalmody Psalm 138
New Testament 1 Corinthians 15:1–11
Gospel Luke 5:1–11

Feb. 11 6th Sunday After Epiphany
Old Testament Jeremiah 17:5–10
Psalmody Psalm 1
New Testament 1 Corinthians 15:12–20
Gospel Luke 6:17–26

Feb. 18 Transfiguration Sunday
Old Testament Exodus 34:29–35
Psalmody Psalm 99
New Testament 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2
Gospel Luke 9:28–36 (37–43a)

Feb. 21 Ash Wednesday
Old Testament Joel 2:1–2, 12–17
Psalmody Psalm 51:1–17
New Testament 2 Corinthians 5:20b–6:10
Gospel Matthew 6:1–6, 16–2

Feb. 25 1st Sunday in Lent
Old Testament Deuteronomy 26:1–11
Psalmody Psalm 91:1–2, 9–16
New Testament Roman 10;8b–13
Gospel Luke 4:1–13


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The deadline for submitting articles for the next issue of the Columns is

Monday, February 12, noon.
Please email to Beth Linscott at ddinc@wi.rr.com or Sam Schaal at schaals@firstchurchtosa.org.
Hard copy may be brought to the church office and left in the Columns mailbox.

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Congregational Columns

www.FirstChurchTosa.org
Editor, Beth Linscott
Communications Committee
Arlette Lindbergh-Chairperson, Marilyn Auer,
Sally Wells, Paige Galfano
*

Rev. Steven Peay, Ph.D., Senior Minister
Rev. Samuel Schaal, Associate Minister
Rev. Rob Brink, Associate Minister
Rev. Charles Goldsmith, Ph.D.,Congregational Home Chaplain
Cindy Payette, Administrator
Lee Jacobi, Director of Music
Thomas Gregory, Organist
Anne Callen, Office Manager
Sharon Cook-Bahr, Secretary
*
Congregational Columns (USPS 010-493) is published monthly by The First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa, 1511 Church St., Wauwatosa, WI 53213-2593, 414/258-7375. Periodical Postage Paid at Milwaukee, WI 53203-9998. Postmaster: Send address changes to Congregational Columns, 1511 Church St., Wauwatosa, WI 53213-2593.
Vol. 22, Issue 1