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First Congregational

United Church of Christ

... exploring the frontiers of faith in Jesus

Fine Arts Corner: Our Creativity

Beginning in September 2020, we began featuring a variety of creations from our members in our weekly newsletter Tidings. We miss seeing each other during the pandemic and this is a way that we can continue to share. We welcome artists of all ages and abilities. We welcome all sorts of contributions: photography, paintings, sculpture, poetry, stories, dance, music, acting, recipes, knitting, crocheting, sewing, needlework, pottery, favorite hobbies or collections. On this page we present the items that have so far been featured - a new one will be added each week. If you would like to participate or have questions, please contact Anne Hoekstra or the church office.

Evie Waack - November 18, 2020

coneflower




Dancing Coneflower

This simple ink and watercolor drawing has profoundly affected me. In November of the year Dale and I moved into my childhood home, the coneflowers in the backyard had just turned brown. The "cone" of this flower caught my attention. In the fading sunlight of a Sunday afternoon I sat before the flower and dabbed in the yellowish orange colors of the cone. I then continued with the pinkish brown of the petals. By the time I finished painting and drawing the dying flower it had come to life.




Dale Waack - November 11, 2020

chairs When Anne Hoekstra asked me to contribute for the "Fine Arts Page" for the Tidings, she as well as I was thinking I would pick one of my favorite wildlife photos, some species of birds or other creatures of the woods. In the process of glancing through who knows how many thousand of photos I came across the one to the right. As I kept looking, I kept coming back to this particular one. It seems more appropriate at this time in history than wildlife photos.

Some years ago Evie and I fell in love with the area of Minnesota known as "The North Shore" and have been fortunate to make trips in all four seasons. That area of God's country extends from Duluth, Minnesota to the Canadian border along Lake Superior. Our favorite place to stay while there is a small, non four star, privately owned resort five miles south of Grand Marais and sits fifty yards from the lake. On one of our early fall trips these empty chairs were sitting about ten feet form a short drop off to Lake Superior. A picture says a thousand words. What is Missing?

In this time of the pandemic, what/who is missing from your life? Where do you feel empty? More importantly, what have you done/can do to fill the void the pandemic has caused?



Beth Hurley - November 4, 2020

I have a large perenial garden that takes up the majority of my backyard, and in that garden I have a section just for hybrid roses. At this time of year , I watch as they all dry down and go dormant for the winter. One day, a couple of years ago, I walked out to my garden and spied a bright rose growing out of a dying bush. I considered whether to pick it or leave it there at the mercy of the uncertain elements we experience in the fall. It was this quandry that inspired me to write the following poem in which I discover an analogy to our own humanity. Included is a photo of one of my roses.

Rose

The Last Rose of Summer

Today I picked the last rose of summer.
I saw it through the window,
Standing tall and bright
Above the other rosebushes,
Now blighted and withered.
Their leaves falling on the ground.

Yet strong and tall it stood,
Head toward the sky,
Far above the rest of the garden.
Its color a bright fuchsia.
Almost neon-like,
Demanding the focal point
In a sea of fading flora.

Its message was one of hope and courage,
As if it refused to give up its
Strength and beauty,
It stood atop a thick and sturdy stem.
Hesitantly, I put the pruners to it.
As if trying to prolong its life,
I placed it in a vase of life-sustaining water.

As such, have we been plucked
From a life of iniquity and death.
We can stand tall and unafraid.
The beauty of Christ's love,
Shining from our countenance,
Saved by the life-giving waters,
Of his eternal Grace.


John Mardis - October 28, 2020

This song - Searching for Jesus - is my current answer to the question "If Jesus is always with us, where is He?" The tune was suggested by the shapenote hymn, The Morning Trumpet, which starts out "When will I see Jesus, and reign with Him above, and hear the trumpet sound on that Morning?" I believe we don't have to wait for the afterlife to see Jesus in action or even to hear morning trumpets!



Sue Hummel - October 28, 2020

I like to collect bits and pieces of Halloween decorations, mostly from the 1960's. It feels good to create something while being at home more, and to share a few of them with you!

Halloween



Sabina Meacham and cello - October 21, 2020

For this week, we have a link to a performance by one of our very talented youth--Sabina Meacham, performing "Contra Dance" by Beethoven on her cello. She is accompanied by her teacher, Ludmilla Lebedeva. Sabina has been playing cello since age 5. What she likes best about playing the cello is hearing the many sounds that come from a simple wooden instrument and she likes performing because she wants people to hear the skill that she has been developing through the years. Thank you, Sabina, for sharing your talents with our church family!

Click here for Sabina's video.

Sabina



Cliff Highnam - October 14, 2020

hammers



This is a photo of a set of dulcimer hammers I made. This pair is composed of walnut with grips of maple. I cut them out with a scroll saw and glued them together with clamps. The hammers are hand-sanded and finished with tung oil. The dot on each shank is a wood inlay locating the fulcrum or balance point. The fulcra for a pair need to match in order to feel balanced in the player's hands. The striking surfaces are covered with leather strips that soften impact and mellow sound. During the boredom created by the pandemic, I made dozens of these pairs and peddled them on E-bay and from my Etsy shop. But I flooded the market (which took a couple dozen) and now I'm nursing a bloated inventory. Hammers anyone? :-)




Bob Hurley - October 7, 2020

painting




The Man of All Colors (oil)
I call my painting "The Man of All Colors" because to me it represents the man whom God originally created. He has no racial bias as all races are in him. He symbolizes God's perfect creation within one body as all are blending together in total unity. This painting is how I believe we should value every person.




Diane Highnam - September 30, 2020

columbine



I chose to share this photo with you today because I love spring flowers! I love perennials that come back year after year. I planted this beautiful flower in my garden near the front of the house. It was always a reminder of my dad, a Master Gardener, who tended his flower and vegetable gardens with the utmost care. He loved his gardens. . .Dad's gardens, I believe, were his sanctuary. He loved the solitude, the beauty, the respite from his daily responsibilities. He loved the hard work of keeping God's plants alive and well. For years, I was blessed to have this purple columbine greet me every spring and remind me, too, that God is in our midst. God is creating and recreating us every day. We can withstand harsh winters, dry spells, and spring floods. We can thrive in our own gardens. We can be a blessing to those around us! We can bloom where we are planted!




Paul Greene - September 23, 2020

lake



"I love kayaking! I love being so close to the water ... actually sitting in the water. I love how I feel how the kayak and I become one ... together. This is my first kayak and favorite kayak that I've had for probably twenty years ... long before kayaks were so popular as they are today. But, I have the same problem kayaking as I do with other activities like biking, running, walking, or whatever. It seems I just have one speed ... all out. I can't seem to slow down and just enjoy. I see a lot of things when I'm outdoors, but I often wonder what I'm missing going 'wherever' in such a hurry.

Well, every now and then there is an exception to my "all-out flaw". You see one of them here. I'm all by myself on the water, everyone else has (foolishly) gone home, it's quiet except for the wildlife, and God puts on a show just for me. It's at these times that I can finally pull my feet out of the kayak, sit back, and enjoy the incredible splendor of our Creator, And not only am I pulled out of "all out" mode, but I could sit there forever, if the show lasted that long. I feel so close to our Lord ... surrounded by His Creation in sight and sound. Amen."