I hope this week has brought you to a more curious space. Have you started reading our Inspired Reading? Be sure to mark your calendar for the Inspired Dialogue on Jan 20th where we will discuss the reading and what makes us curious in this life. It will be an incredible time to get to know each other a little better and to see how God is at work in the world in new ways. Reminder that after church this Sunday is the first YASS gathering of 2020. Make sure you are following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date with all the ministry happenings in the coming month. Be sure to share and like all our posts to make sure everyone knows they are invited. And we hope your new year resolution involves joining us each Sunday for worship in person or online and sharing the many gifts that God has given you with our ever-growing community. What an exciting time to do ministry together!
As I have shared, I was not raised in the church. But as I have gotten older, I have recognized the times in my life where God was active, even though I didn’t have the words for it. But even though I didn’t consider myself religious, my Ema (grandma) thought it was important that I knew how to talk to God. So, she taught me to pray, and I have prayed every night since I was a child. It was (and is) comforting to me to talk with God. But that was the only form of prayer that I knew for years. And if we are being honest, it often felt very one-sided. That was until I joined a church community and went on a prayer retreat. Once I learned how expansive prayer could be; from talking to God by myself to a crowded protest chanting for justice to sharing a smile with a stranger, I experienced for the first time what it really felt like to connect with God. Not just me connecting, but feeling connected to and with God. And that is because connecting with God is best done with our minds, bodies, and hearts. How do we know? Let’s read this scripture from Acts together and see if we can find out.
“So, Peter said to them, “I begin to see how true it is that God shows no partiality—rather, that any person of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God. (Acts 10:34-35)
Did you catch that? Does what is right. We are not called just to think what is right, but we are called to act on it. And our hearts tell us what is right. Being connected to God – being “acceptable” – is about living into the call of justice and love and peace in God’s name with our whole self. It doesn’t mean that silent prayers by yourself are bad or disconnected from God. It just means that we are called to seek and live into a life with God in a number of ways. Ways that will change as we grow and learn and love in new and different ways.
Friends, what does it mean to “do what is right,” for you? How does that vary depending on how you are connecting to God in that moment? How does it change depending on where you are in the world or who you are with at dinner? Our scripture reminds us that God is with everyone and in every season of life. But we can inspire each other to understand God at work in new ways when we share how God is at work in our lives presently- reminding us that being acceptable to God means that we connect with God and each other using everything we have and everything we are.
A quick prayer for your week: God, help me think and do and be with you. Amen
Children and Youth Ministry Update
Dear Park People,
We had a very light-filled Sunday on January 5th; reading both the grownups’ preaching passage from Isaiah, and our children’s book, “When God Made Light.” The children talked about what it meant to have the light of God “in us.” There were many interesting responses to that question, but, I think, the one that helped me understand it best, was “It’s what makes you YOU.”
After our conversation, we got up to sing and dance the song “This Little Light Of Mine.” The children also added a few verses of their own.
On Sunday January 12th, we will read Mark 5: 22-23 and 38-43; the passages where Jesus heals the synagogue leader’s daughter. Our discussion will focus on the importance of children, in the life and ministry of Jesus, as well as the power of healing prayer. For our creative response, we will brainstorm together, using words and pictures, in order to begin plans for our craft fair/bake sale to benefit Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
I hope that all of us will be receiving true and beautiful epiphanies, in these Epiphany days.
Blessings and well wishes as always,
Rev. Francesca Maria (Miriam): Children’s Minister
This concert on January 12 will support the Lustgarten Foundation, the premier organization committed to researching pancreatic cancer, and supporting the many people affected by this horrific disease.
Musicians: Bettman and Halpin - Folk/Americana, with soaring vocals, inspiring lyrics, foot-stomping energy, strings (fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin) like you won’t believe!
Sunday, January 12
Time: 3:00-5:00 pm
at The Park
Cost: $25 per person (children 12 and under free) - cash at the door