Happy New Year! I hope that your 2020 is off to a happy and healthy start and that you are seeing the newness that the Christ child brings and that another day inspires. What a gift each new day is to start again and try something new. I know that INSPIRE 2020 is helping me see God at work in new ways which makes me curious for what I can do to inspire others to see it as well. And even though newness is all around us, we still have some established things happening as well. Our first YASS gathering is next week, we have a trip to see the second part of The Inheritance on Broadway on the calendar, and our first Inspired Dialogue is coming up as well. So be sure to follow us online and stay curious about all the events and how you can be a part of our many ministries happening here at The Park.
As you read this, I am currently spending time in California with my family of origin. Which has meant getting up early with my niece and spending time with people who have known me my whole life. It is always an interesting thing to go back to where you were raised. You have changed in so many profound ways and yet waking up in your childhood bedroom, the sun coming in the window the same way it always has, it feels as if time has stood still. But I am not the same, and neither are you. We know things now that we didn’t before. We have experiences and have grown closer to God and each other. And God has given us a new day to start again, to use our experiences, knowledge, and relationships to help others grow closer to God as well. And as our scripture today reminds us, every day is a new chance to shine.
"Arise, shine, for your light has come!
the glory of God is rising upon you! (Isaiah 60:1)
Each new day this year, let the first thing in our hearts and minds be a prayer of thanks that we were gifted this day to shine the light on our spiritual gifts so that they may be seen and inspire others. May this year be one in which we look back on and say, “I lived my best life. I let God use me for justice and love. My light shined and lit up God's world with joy and hope.” I know…its wordy, but you get what I mean.
Friends, rise and shine, for you and God are doing something new together. Building the kindom with each new person you meet and with every use of the gifts that God has given you. What an incredible blessing each new day is with you and God.
A quick prayer for your week: God, Raise up something new in me today. Amen
Children and Youth Ministry Update
Dear Park People,
In December, our children observed Advent and Christmas, with great joy and excitement. We made sure to keep the Advent calendar in the children’s ministry space up to date, with lots of stickers, saving the sticker depicting baby Jesus for last, of course! Children had great fun, helping to decorate the Christmas tree in the Narthex. There were also three song-and-story workshops with Paul Vasile, culminating in the children’s beautiful performance as song leaders, during the Cantata service on December 22nd. The children look forward to more musical participation, in the services for Palm Sunday, Easter, and Pentecost.
In January, the children’s scripture readings will have a dual focus, on the mentions of children in the gospels, and on the healing work done by Jesus and the disciples. These readings will serve as inspiration for the work of brainstorming, planning, and preparing, as the children get ready for their first collaborative service project; a craft fair and bake sale to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. The children selected Saint Jude’s as the recipient for their fund-raising, because a couple of them had friends who were cancer survivors, and because they liked the idea of contributing to a hospital that serves children with cancer, at no cost to their families. The craft fair/bake sale will take place in mid-June, and the children will be working toward it, in various ways, throughout the remainder of this program year. Stay tuned for more on this beautiful; benevolent endeavor!
As I write this, our little table-top Christmas tree remains in place (with the occasional ornament repurposed as a cat toy) but our menorah has been put away until next year. I am always sad to say goodbye to the menorah, as Chanukah concludes, but especially so this year. My dual heritage (Catholic father; Jewish mother) has always been important to me, but, this year, also makes me feel particularly vulnerable (in response to the many, horrible incidents of anti-Semitic violence) while, simultaneously, feeling determined to that I will not let myself “pass.” It’s still Christmas on the calendar, and still, also, Chanukah, in the temple of my heart.
May G-d bless all of us, children of Sarah and Abraham, keeping us always in solidarity and holy love!
Rev. Francesca Maria (Miriam): Children’s Minister
How does it work? Once you're trained you become part of the accompaniment program. You'll learn about upcoming accompaniments and can sign up for time slots and locations that work for you.