Old Rugged Cross
This is one of the hardest days we face in our Christian tradition. For this Good Friday, we face the fact that Jesus of Nazareth, whom we name as Messiah, died. There is no getting around this fact. Jesus died. His death was not pretty. It was not meant to be pretty. For it was done by Rome.
If we have learned anything about Rome, we know that Rome was not very tolerant of any person or movement that went against its agenda. People were assassinated, villages burned to the ground, populations wiped off the face of the earth, male children under the age of two put to the sword. Remember that horror?
Make no mistake about it, the way Jesus died, crucified, was awful, deliberate. Although Rome did not invent this form of death, Rome reserved it for special occasions– for those who subverted and disrupted Roman law and order. It was meant to instill fear and terror in those who might stray from Pax Romana. Thus, crucifixions were very, very public. The ones crucified were hung up as a public warning. “This one went too far.” “This could happen to you.”
Jesus is not someone who had been caught stealing or had murdered someone, Jesus’ offense is that he lived a life that was a threat to the politicians and the religious establishment. This poor nomadic, traveling teacher from Galilee who gathered twelve disciples around him– no armor, no weapons, no war horses.
This one who professes love for enemies, turning the cheek when struck, going the extra mile, forgiving, giving the shirt off our back as well as our coat, giving to those who beg, praying, giving alms, fasting in secret, not worrying about what clothes we wear or what food we eat, who says “do not judge,” “ask, search, knock,” be fruit inspectors not judgers.
This is the One whom the religiously connected and the politically powerful deemed to be such a threat that he publicly dies in humiliation. “Do NOT do what this man did. He broke our rules”.
In other words, the blind are meant to stay blind; the deaf are to remain deaf; the lame, the lepers, the stooped, the chronically bleeding, the sick, the beaten up, are to be avoided and pitied, but not helped, not restored to full health just so that they can die again. And speaking of the dead, they are certainly to remain dead.
Jesus died because he defied societal assumptions.
Jesus died because he upset religious traditions.
Jesus died because he lived unencumbered by societal and religious expectations.
Jesus died because he ate in freedom as the song clearly states– sharing meals with crowds, with the wealthy, with the outcasts, with the likes of us, “sinners”.
Most of us here at FPC know all too well the emptiness that death causes in our lives.
Yes, we go on living even when our loved ones have died. Yes, the women who witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and death went on living, but they and the disciples were living imprisoned behind the closed doors of grief and fear. Grieving the unexpected cruel death of the one whom they loved. Scared that they would be next. The next ones arrested, tried, mocked, tortured and tormented.
During the first week of his Spiritual Exercises, St Ignatius suggests a meditation for the one who is beginning this 30-day experience– 30 days of hanging out with Jesus, 30 days of discovering what next direction God has in mind for our life.
Ignatius suggests first that we desire to get in touch with our sin– that which is dragging us down, holding us back, separating us from our true self. In other words, Ignatius asks us to take time to get honest, to see ourselves and our lives more clearly. Who are we? What is holding us back? What is holding us hostage?
• Sometimes it is our disappointment with how life has turned out for us. The “What might have-beens” are holding us back.
• Sometimes it is our need to justify the resentment and anger we hold onto because we have been wronged, degraded, offended to our core by another.
• Sometimes it is our sorrow for the losses of loved ones;
• Sometimes it is the self-pity we are caught up in; sometimes it is simply the “Why me?” “Why does this always happen to me?”
Then after several prayer periods, Ignatius suggests that we go to Jesus and tell him what we have discovered. We are to go to Jesus and name what is holding us back.
Except that Ignatius does not send us to laughing Jesus, or Shepherd Jesus, or Jesus by the lakeside, hunger-filling Jesus, but to Jesus hanging on the cross. Jesus hanging on the Old Rugged Cross. This is where we are to talk with Jesus about what is holding us back. About what is holding us hostage.
I wonder what each of us might say to him? Hanging there on the cross.
I wonder how he might say to us?
I wonder how his face might look?
Might we take the time today or tomorrow to talk to Jesus on the cross about what is holding each of us hostage?
You see, the mystery of this moment is that Jesus understands our pain, our grief, our betrayals, our feelings of being abandoned, our helplessness, our feelings of being inadequate and isolated, our rage, our sorrow.
Might we take the time to be honest with Jesus before the dawn of Easter morning? Take the time to talk to Jesus on the cross.
Wait for it. Then might we take time to listen for what Jesus will say back to us?
It takes courage to speak to Jesus like this. However, we know that we have to pass through our Good Friday moments in order to appreciate the wonder of Easter morning. We can do hard things because we follow the One who showed us how and journeys with us now. Jesus is waiting. I wonder what we will say to him today?
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Video Devotional: The Empty Tomb
The empty tomb is foundational to the Christian faith. Yet, when we read the four Gospel accounts of the empty tomb on Easter morning, we are confused by the fact that the Gospel accounts tell the same story, but with slightly different facts. Why is that? Do these differences actually speak to the authenticity of the Gospel accounts? Find out in this episode of “Jeff Quinto’s Scriptures for Life.” Please “like” this video and subscribe to my channel so more people will see these devotional videos. Soli Deo Gloria!
We exist as a congregation to know Jesus Christ and to make Him known:
- To proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ so all may come to know and love Him;
- To nurture His people in joyful faith, fellowship, and commitment; and
- To demonstrate His way of love in service to the world.
We use the Connector to share news of the coming week and beyond, the activities that involve a wide range of ages and interests at FPC.
News and Announcements
The countdown in on…only 6 more days until the MIF survey closes (April 13th). The MIF team is pleased to have 135 completed surveys to review, but WE WANT MORE!
Have you and each of your family members over the age of 12 completed the survey? If not, NOW IS THE TIME! Please click on the link or scan the QR code to start the survey. If you prefer to complete the survey on paper, there are ample paper copies of the survey in the Church Lobby. Completed paper surveys can be returned to a basket on the Connection Corner Table, or to the Church office. The survey is anonymous.
We need to hear from as many people as possible to get a true sense of the desired direction for FPC in the future. From the GEMs meetings we learned that one of strengths of FPC was the sermons. Now we need to dig deeper to learn what qualities in a pastor you would prioritize. Just like when you are looking for a new position, pastoral candidates will review FPC’s MIF online and evaluate how they fit the criteria laid out in our form. Everyone has thoughts about what qualities their “dream pastor” will have, so we need to hear from as many of you as possible!
Each voice is equally important in the survey process, so WE WANT MORE voices to add to the data to get the best idea of what the FPC Family wants for their future.
Thanks to all who have completed the survey, and thanks in advance to all who will complete the survey in the next week.
Moving forward together,
The MIF Team
If you need help with a technical concern with the survey, please contact Chris Drake in the Church office at 608-949-9445.
For other questions or concerns about the survey, please contact Joan Cable at firstname.lastname@example.org
March 2023 Report
Finance Report: March has been an average month for FPC finances. Parking lot fund: There is a question as to how much to pay down so we can keep some to add a stone edge in needed places.
Nominating Committee Update: The nominating committee will have their first meeting March 27. This year the committee needs to nominate two deacons and five elders. A motion was made and approved to adjust current terms of office as needed to return to the term ends of four per year for both elders and deacons.
Report of the Pastor: Pastor Glen reported the MIF committee is full steam ahead. Their survey forms are being distributed. He talked with Roberta at the Tribune about a community survey, finalized a job description with Doug, has a vacation in May and June with all needed details lined up, and continues to meet with former members. A motion was made and approved to allow the baptism of Lainey Marilyn Schmitt on April 16. Motion made and approved to adopt proposed changes to the by-laws. Motion made and approved to approve Musical Pathways Building Use Agreements for Summer and Fall 2023. We will use current rates now and base future rates on the last year’s CPI rates.
Consent Action Items: Motion made and approved to accept the proposed job descriptions for Director of Children’s Ministry and Director of Family Ministry.
Worship and Music: Erik reported the organ recital to honor Pat Ronspiez and help raise funds for a high school piano was great. We received almost $1300 for our Mission fund. Easter supplies are ordered. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are being planned. Erik and Brian Gade are working on a proposal to upgrade our thirty-year-old sound system. Erik estimates the cost at about $45,000 and will send out the proposal when he gets it. Session will vote on it next month.
Children’s Ministry: Peter reported the Penny Wars raised over $400 for the youth mission trip, tee shirts for teachers and volunteers are being designed, the kids choir opened a worship service, seven students from 4K/K received Bibles and blessings, and Kingdom Kids and the Nursery will be staffed all summer. They are working on a Network 56 service project at Pres House March 26, the Palm Sunday Easter Trail April 2, First Publicly Recognized Communion May 7, the last day of Sunday School May 21, and VBS June 25-27.
Building and Grounds: RJ reported Brian Gade continues to work with the electrical contractor to convert our lighting to LED. The original building is completed, and the Educational Wing is next. The Youth Space is being remodeled. A storage space is being set up in the former wedding room. There will be a spring clean-up day in May and working on getting a price for a gravel lip for unpaved portions of the parking lot.
Personnel: Doug reported he has formed a search and hiring committee to look for a choir director and music coordinator. Our pianist Ying may not be able to continue after he graduates.
Stewardship: no report this month
Student Ministry: Emily reported they discussed the status of Sunday and Wednesday groups, the Youth Space remodel is well underway, and they are working on summer events and service activities.
Adult Nurture and Spiritual Growth: Scott reported 2023 continues to be positive. Offerings include Bible studies, Sunday School opportunities, and a Sunday Morning Breakfast with speaker. He will continue to order three-month versions of Our Daily Bread, was able to assist with a breakfast in March, and is working on a Marriage Retreat at the Green Lake Conference Center October 20-22. He thanked Pastors Susan and Glen for leading Bible studies.
Mission: Brice reported they are working on a Moment for Mission each month. She would like a permanent table in front of the Mission screen in the narthex with something always playing on the screen. The Youth Group is doing Pres House this month and she is working on getting FPC members more involved with missions.
Fellowship: Lynda reported the organ concert was a big success. There will be cake for Easter and she is working on a Mother’s Day breakfast.
New Member Outreach: Wes will talk to Pastor Glen about the next class. Wes was asked if camels will come back to the Live Nativity and he said no.
A special topic was addressed that requires a follow-up session meeting, scheduled for April 11.
Project Connect: Spring forth with faith
Make connections, be a listener, be a blessing to others.
Interested individuals and families will be paired with seniors or people with caring needs to
build multi-generational relationships.
Examples for activities: send a card, share Spring flowers, assist with Spring clean up, play a card game, and many more.
Please register by April 16th
Contact Kristy Drewry email@example.com or Christa Schmeelk firstname.lastname@example.org
One year ago this week: Parking lot update
It was almost exactly one year ago that we came together as a congregation and agreed to take out a $300,000 loan to fund the new parking lot. On April 10, 2022, the congregation unanimously approved borrowing to fund the replacement of our parking lot. If you were in attendance that day, you may remember how wonderful it was to have everyone on the same page about something after the turmoil of COVID. (You might also remember how bumpy it was on your drive in and out of church that morning!) A year later, we have a smooth new lot and have received $154,852 in pledges to fund that $300,000 parking lot.
If you would like to pledge to our Paving the Way campaign to help fund the parking lot, please go to https://www.myfpc.org/donate and make a pledge by clicking on the Paving Our Way logo, or give directly to the parking lot fund by clicking through to FPC’s Donation Page and entering a donation on the Parking Lot Fund line.
During the Children’s Moment last Sunday, the Children waved their palm branches while singing.
VBS Registration and Volunteer Sign-up is now LIVE!
Registration is now live! If you hear space calling and want to explore, please register today!
Blast Off Location: FPC
Dates: June 25-27
Cost: $30 for the first passenger and $20 for each sibling (includes a space shirt this year)
Nursery is open
Nursery Age 2 and Under – Room 200
The Nursery is available on Sundays from 9:00 – 11:00 AM, is staffed by church volunteers who love children and want to share God’s love with them.
The Nursery will be open for the 10 AM Sunday service only.
New 3-4-year-old Kingdom Kids Sunday School
There will be no Kingdom Kids on Easter Sunday, April 9th as volunteers will be spending Easter with their families.
3-4-year-old Kingdom Kids now have their own Sunday School class from 9:00 – 9:50 AM on Sunday, in the Kingdom Kids room.
4k-Kindergarteners will still be upstairs.
Are you familiar with FPC’s FOOF wall?
Are you familiar with FPC’s FOOF wall? It’s not just a funny name! Take a walk down to the children’s education wing, and there you will see photos of many of our church members, staff and volunteers. This is our FOOF wall – the Faces Of Our Family.
The FOOF wall is more than just a collection of photos. It helps our members recognize and get to know each other. It’s a useful tool for church leaders and staff. It’s a great connection mechanism within our congregation. And we need your help to make our FOOF wall current again!
Many of the photos on the FOOF wall were taken years ago while putting together our church directory. Most of us look very different today! Some of us have gotten married or had babies over the past few years. Some of us may be new to the church, and did not have an opportunity to submit a picture for our wall. So we would appreciate your assistance as we update the “faces of our family.”
Do you have a family photo that you used for your Christmas card this year? Or perhaps a picture taken over the holidays? Please take a moment to send the picture to us by clicking the button below. Thank you!
Upcoming Music in Worship
April 9 – Easter Sunday 8 AM – Ying Wang, pianist, and Diane Robinson, soloist
April 9 – Easter Sunday 10 AM – FPC Choir, Joyful Noise, and Yahara String Quartet
April 16 – Audrey Manning, Cherith Brown, Brett Cable, and Jason Cable
April 23 – FPC Choir
Guest Musicians: Yahara String Quartet
The Yahara String Quartet will perform at the 10 AM Easter service, preludes begin at 9:45 AM. Don’t miss it!
The Yahara String Quartet has been performing in the Madison area for several decades and can often be seen performing at weddings, parties, fundraisers, church services and other special events. Their repertoire includes a wide range of classical and contemporary pieces, carefully selected to suit the occasion and audience. In addition to performing as a quartet, members of the ensemble are active music teachers and performers in the community.
Coming Events | April 9 – April 29, 2023
This Sunday, April 9 at 8 AM and 10 AM – Easter Worship Services
FPC will host two worship services on Sunday, April 9 for Easter, one at 8 AM and another at 10 AM. There will be no Children’s Sunday School, Graceland, or Kingdom Kids as volunteers will be spending Easter with their families. However, there will be Nursery for ages 0-2 at the 10am service only.
Sundays at 9 AM – Graceland Student Ministry
There will be no Graceland Student Ministry on Easter Sunday, April 9th as volunteers will be spending Easter with their families.
7th-12th Graders, join us each week for a time of connection, Bible discussion, and prayer.
Sundays at 9 AM – Sunday School for 4K-Adults
There will be no Sunday School on Easter Sunday, April 9th as volunteers will be spending Easter with their families.
Sundays – During Service – Kingdom Kids
There will be no Kingdom Kids on Easter Sunday, April 9th as volunteers will be spending Easter with their families.
During the worship service kids can leave the worship service after the Children’s Moment and need to be picked up in room 202 after the service is over.
We offer Kingdom Kids for 3-year olds – kindergarten. Kingdom Kids offers a fun, unique time for children to explore their faith and form positive relationships with peers.
Wednesdays thru May 24 at 8:30 – 10:00 AM – Women’s Community Bible Study
The Wednesday Morning Women’s Bible Study Group is made up of women from the surrounding community at large. All are welcome. This season we are exploring “How Much More” by Lisa Harper. Meet us on Wednesdays 8:30 – 10:00 AM in the Conference Room, entering through the west side Education Wing doors. Contact Beth Stellmacher for more info: email@example.com.
Wednesdays at 7:00 – 8:15 PM – Graceland Student Ministry
7th-12th Graders, join the fun upstairs in the Youth Room for a time of connection, games, message, meaningful small group discussion with students your same grade, and prayer.
Thursday, April 13 at 7 PM – Building and Grounds Meeting
On Thursday April 13 and 7pm, the Building and Grounds Elder, RJ Binau, will host a Building and Grounds meeting in the Gathering Space. All are welcome!
Mondays, April 17-24 at 1:00 – 2:30 PM – The Light Team Meeting
The Light Team is comprised of women who want a chance to meet for fellowship and Bible study. We pray for each other and those in our church family and community. When possible, we extend ourselves in projects to help others. There is no homework and we include humor and laughter! We meet in the Gathering Place on Mondays at 1:00 – 2:30 PM. All are welcome to attend any or all of our sessions.
No meeting on April 10.
April 17-24 we will be learning about the Women of the Bible. First Mary and then Mary Magdelene. We will wrap up the season with a lunch on May 1 at MNM’s at 11:30 AM along with the MIF committee. We will then take a break until Fall.
Save the Date | More Info to come
Sunday, April 30 at 11 AM – First Communion Parent and Child Meeting
Following the worship service we will meet in the Chapel.
Sunday, May 7 at 10 AM – FPC’s First Public Communion
Anyone who desires a closer relationship with Jesus can take communion any time at FPC, including children. Some families desire to publicly recognize this important moment in their child’s faith journey. We are inviting those families to come forward to receive communion together with their child during our worship services on May 7. This is open to any children who wish to learn more about communion and be recognized, whether they have taken communion before or it is their first time. If you and your child plan to participate in this special day, please plan to attend a short learning session and run-through on Sunday April 30 after service at 11am in the chapel (or make another time for you and your child to meet with Christa.)
Friday, October 20 – Sunday, October 22 – FPC Marriage Retreat
Pastor Glen and his wife, Christine, will lead this event at the Green Lake Retreat Center. Cost is $199 per couple for 4 meals and 2 nights’ lodging. Contact Pastor Glen or Christa Schmeelk for more information.
Opportunities to Serve
Agrace Seeks Volunteers in Dane County:
Volunteers are needed to assist customers, operate the cash register and sort donations at the Agrace Thrift Stores in Madison, pack donated merchandise in donors’ homes, or make companionship visits to local Agrace hospice patients in patients’ homes, nursing homes or assisted living centers.
Agrace will host volunteer orientation Thursday, May 18, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at its Madison campus. Pre-registration is required. Call (608) 327-7163 or visit agrace.org/volunteer to fill out an application.
Agrace is seeking volunteers across Dane County to visit with hospice patients or support its Madison area thrift stores. Volunteer orientation will take place at Agrace’s Madison campus May 18, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Pre-registration is required. Call (608) 327-7163 or visit agrace.org/volunteer to fill out an application.
Agrace Offers Grief Support Group Options in May
In May, Agrace is offering professionally led, in-person and virtual (accessible with a tablet, computer or smartphone) grief support options.
- Bridges is for adults grieving the death of any loved one. Meetings are held every other Wednesday at the Agrace Grief Support Center. In May, meetings are May 3 and 17, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Bridges (virtual) is for adults grieving the death of any loved one. Meetings are held every other Wednesday. In May, meetings are May 10 and 24, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., via Zoom.
- Young Adult is for anyone aged 18 to 30+ years who is grieving the death of a loved one, parent, child, spouse, sibling or friend. The group will meet May 11, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at the Agrace Grief Support Center.
There is no fee for these programs if a participant’s family member was in hospice care in the past 12 months; fees for others can be lowered or waived, if needed. Pre-registration is required for all groups. For details, fees or to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (608) 327-7110.
Stephen Ministry at FPC: Providing God’s Care to Hurting People
What is this ministry about?
Extensively trained and supervised Stephen Minister Caregivers provide high-quality, one-on-one confidential Christian care to anyone in need. They provide weekly visits and ongoing support as long as the care receiver needs. Should the care receiver have needs that are beyond the scope of a Stephen Minister Caregiver, they are referred to professional caregivers.
What kind of care is offered from a Stephen Minister?
- CRISIS CARE – For people experiencing change(s) that significantly challenge their ability to cope.
- FOLLOW-UP CARE – After the crisis event.
- CHRONIC CARE – For a person whose situation is unlikely to change.
- PREVENTIVE CARE – Providing care before a crisis occurs.
- SUPPORTIVE CARE – Care for the caregiver.
How can I find out more about this ministry?
Call the church office at 608-949-9445, or reach out to a pastor or deacon. Stephen Minister Caregivers don’t replace the care of pastors and deacons. They carry it a step further.
Want to receive an email notification when the weekly Connector is updated? Sign up here!
Connect with the Connector!
In an effort to streamline the process for submitting requests for event announcements in the Connector or spoken during the worship service, Communications has developed this easy-to-use online form to share all of your important information.
Click the link below to check out the form and if you have any feedback or questions, please send an email to email@example.com.
The Connector is available in print at the Connection Corner in the Lobby for those who would like a printed copy.
The Connector comes out at 4 PM every Friday. The deadline for submissions is noon, the Wednesday prior.