I hope this week has inspired you to get curious in new ways. Halfway into this new month, our reading, our song, the scripture they have all inspired me to be curious of God at work in new ways. My curiosity has led me to new tv shows, new incredible people in our city and world, three new books, and an idea for an upcoming worship experience. What have been the fruits of your curiosity? Remember to use #InspiredByThePark to let us know what you are curious about! As a reminder this coming Monday has a lot going on. First, in recognition and celebration of the life of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the office will be closed for business. However, we are having our very first Inspired Dialogue at 7pm. I hope you can join us for this conversation. And as always, we hope to see you in worship Sunday at 11am!
This week’s scripture is one of my favorite questions in all of theology. It calls each of us to prayerfully consider how we would answer the question that Jesus poses to the Disciples: Who do you say that I am? It’s a question that is the crux of Christian witness and also our own identity as people of faith. So let’s get curious about this text together and read together this story from the gospel according to Matthew.
When Jesus came to the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi, he asked the disciples this question: “What do people say about who the Chosen One is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptizer, others say Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“And you,” he said, “who do you say that I am?”
“You are the Messiah,” Simon Peter answered, “the Firstborn of the Living God!”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon ben-Jonah! No mere mortal revealed this to you, but my Abba God in heaven. I also tell you this: your name now is ‘Rock,’ and on bedrock like this I will build my community, and the jaws of death will not prevail against it.
“Here—I’ll give you the keys to the reign of heaven:
whatever you declare bound on earth
will be bound in heaven,
and whatever you declare loosed on earth
will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19)
So? How do you answer that question? Chances are there will be as many ways to answer that question as there are people in this world. Jesus is at work and in relationship with each of us, in unique and specific ways. And the ways we describe that relationship is ever changing. And that is the point of Jesus’ question. We need to talk about who Jesus is to us. We have gotten out of habit of sharing with each other our relationship with Jesus and the work God is doing in our lives and world. But scripture tells us that we need to ask each other and answer individually Jesus’s question. “Who do you say that I am,” is not about the answer but about the expectation that this question is active in our faith lives and broader communities.
Friends, how would your relationship with Jesus grow, change, and expand if you asked people in earnest, “Who is Jesus to you?”-and really listened to the answer? When was the last time you answered the question, “Who is Jesus to me?” It is okay if your answer is unclear, in process, or like Peter-the child of the living God, the point is to make this question a part of your everyday faith life and to share your journey with a curious community. So, let’s talk church. Let’s answer the hard and easy questions together…and share our answers.
A quick prayer for your week: God, may all the things I say make people more curious about you, your work, and your love for us all. Amen
Children and Youth Ministry Update
Dear Park People,
On Sunday January 12th, we read the account (from Mark’s gospel) of Jesus healing the daughter of Jairus, the synagogue leader’s daughter. We discussed how important children were, to Jesus, and the strong faith that came through, in healing a little girl who appeared to be dead! Using this story as a segue, we thought about the children at Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital, who suffer from serious, life-threatening illness, and, how helping them is a good way to follow Jesus. For our creative response, we did a brainstorming session, using pictures as well as words, to generate ideas for the craft fair to benefit Saint Jude’s. I asked the children to think of things that they would enjoy making, and that people would want to buy. Some ideas were more realistic than others (we probably won’t be able to “make a phone,” as much as people love their phones) but all were imaginative, and, in some cases, quite surprising. I was especially delighted by the suggestion that we make and sell ‘zines. I hadn’t realized that ‘zines (small, hand-made, paper-and-staple magazines, for the uninitiated) were still a thing. During the “Zine Scene” heyday of the early 1990s, I was a frequent contributor to ‘zines, and, briefly, published one of my own, called “The Holy Fool.” Anyway, we generated lots of wonderful craft ideas, most of which are realistic, so, I plan to get right on with the task of acquiring all of the supplies we’ll need, to make cool stuff!
On Sunday January 19th, we’ll be reading Matthew 17:14-21 (in which Jesus heals a child who has Epilepsy). We’ll be discussing healing prayer; why we pray for people who are sick, and how to do it in the most meaningful ways, for us, and for them (prayer is not “one size fits all!”) As a creative spiritual exercise, we will be drawing pictures of people we know, who need healing, in which they look healthy and happy! This visual-art-as-prayer, will be a way of focusing our love and attention on those people, and beginning to hone those gifts of healing prayer, which God gives to everyone.
May all of us envision healing, for ourselves, our loved ones, and for the world, in our day.
Blessings and well wishes as always,
Rev. Francesca Maria (Miriam): Children’s Minister
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