I hope this week has been one of new inspiration to you. I am confident in God’s ability to draw us near in new ways and I am grateful to see that happen in our community over and over again. This coming Sunday, our Soulfood Fellowship will meet and if you have never been, please see Rev. Richard or Bonnie English for more details. On Monday we have our monthly Inspired Dialogue zoom call from 7-8 pm. We will be discussing where we saw hope in the Inspired Reading and how it has given new rise to hope in our lives. I hope to see you at the discussion. If you have any questions, please let me know. And as always, I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday at 11 am.
It should be no surprise to anyone that I love our young people. The children in my life bring me such joy and inspire me to be my best self in a way that no other group of people does. My first call to ministry was as a Youth Minister and the children that I encountered at that time in my life continue to inspire my work to this day. One day we were reading scripture about Jesus and I asked the kids if they thought it was important that Jesus was human. The answers were mixed as I expended them to be. One youth said that it wouldn’t matter how Jesus showed up he can work with and through anything. I thought to myself, “Yes! Great answer!” Then another kid turned and said that of course Jesus needed to be human “When was the last time you listened to a tree!” (another great answer!). Both of these kids had such wonderful understandings of God at work in the world that I remember being so grateful that the church was in such thoughtful care. When I read this week’s text, it took me right back to that conversation. I wonder how those youth would answer that same question today? How would you answer it? Let’s read this passage from the book of Hebrews and see how our responses might be formed by this scripture?
Since the children of God are flesh and blood, Jesus likewise partook of that flesh and blood, that by dying he might render powerless the one who has the power of death—that is, the Devil—and free those whose fear of death had enslaved them all their lives. Surely Jesus came to help not angels but rather the children of Sarah and Abraham! Therefore, Jesus had to become like his siblings in every way, in order to be a merciful and faithful high priest on our behalf, to make atonement for the sins of the people. And since Jesus suffered while being tempted, he is able to help others who are being tempted.
So, what do you think? Are we in a more understanding place of God’s will with human-Jesus rather than tree-Jesus? How do we care for each other knowing that Jesus was- and is- like us? On the other side, how might we expand our spaces of grace and attention if we knew that Jesus could come back as anything God wanted? For me, it is important that we first know Jesus as like us- human. Being human is a unique experience and it is easier to understand how to follow Christ because he has a similar being to us. However, the fact that Jesus could be in the trees speaking to us in the wind and the shade, gives me pause- and fills me with hope.
Friends, God is still speaking and reminding us that the work of Jesus is with us. Being human is special and connects us to God in a way that only other humans understand. But that doesn’t mean that it limits how God is alive and at work in the world. It just means that we need to pay close attention to the broad gift of creation.
A quick prayer for your week: God, use my humanness for the good work of your whole creation. Amen
This past Sunday, members of YASS and Soulfood Fellowship built rescue buckets for Church World Service as part of a grant that we were awarded. In the buckets were items necessary for cleanup and support in areas affected by natural disasters. We created an assembly line for people to fill the buckets with the requested item and had a group on hand to double check that every bucket had exactly what it needed. We ended our time with a prayer for the buckets and the people who will receive and use them. We are so grateful for the work that CWS is doing and pray they continue to receive the help they need to do the work of love and support to some of our worlds most vulnerable communities.
Children and Youth Ministry Update
Dear Park People,
In Sunday school on February 9th, we read 1 Corinthians 13; Saint Paul’s “love chapter,” which is featured as a reading at so many weddings, because it remains both eloquent and relevant. We talked about being people who love (God and each other) and why that’s so important. For our creative response activity, we made Valentine cards, using construction paper, crayons, markers, and colored pencils, plus stickers and adhesive-backed plastic “jewels.” On them, we wrote “love is” expressions of our own. The Valentines turned out very fancy, and full of love!
On February 16th, we will read Psalm 23, and think about the many ways that God is our “Shepherd,” providing for our needs, protecting us, and giving us gifts of beauty and joy. For our creative response activity, each child will choose one verse from the Psalm, to illustrate, using imagery related to the way that God is Shepherd for them.
We’re going to have a very cold Valentine’s Day this year, if long-term weather forecasters are accurate. So, may we be warmed by warm hearts, and joy with God and our loved-ones!
Blessings and well wishes as always,
Rev. Francesca Maria (Miriam): Children’s Minister