I hope that you have all found ways to seek joy during this week. I know things are challenging – and that is putting it lightly- but I want to say how proud and grateful I am to see you all showing your love of neighbor by wearing your masks and staying inside and joining us for worship online every week. I know it’s not ideal for most – although a surprising amount of you have shared your love for this new platform - but just know your church is missing you too. I hope that you will continue to seek out community where you have time and energy by joining us for our many spaces of fellowship. All our gathering times can be found online and are open to all!
This week we continue in the book of Matthew and Jesus preparing the Disciples for what comes next. I don’t know about you, but all of this warning talk is oddly reassuring in times that feel, let’s say, less than planned. So, as Jesus travels with the Disciples and tells them all about the rest of their journey together, I have found myself paying closer attention to these well-known texts. What information is he giving them – and us – in preparation for a life where we don’t always see him? In what ways has Jesus prepared me for challenging work? What are the expectations I have vs. the expectations that Jesus has for times like these? Let’s hold the sacredness of these wonderings together as we continue to read from Matthew chapter 16.
From that time on, Jesus began to explain to the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, to suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and religious scholars, and that he must be killed, and on the third day raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Rabbi!” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get yourself behind me, you Satan! You are trying to make me stumble and fall. You’re setting your mind not on the things of God, but of mortals.” Then Jesus said to the disciples, “If you wish to come after me, you must deny your very selves, take up the instrument of your own death and begin to follow in my footsteps. (Matthew 16:21-24)
I have read and studied this passage often and this week was the first time I ever sat with the question, “Did Peter hear the Good News?” Jesus tells the Disciples his next steps, from suffering, to betrayal, to the resurrection. And Peter immediately reacts and tells Jesus “never!”
Did he not hear the Good News? What was going on in Peter’s head and heart that all he heard was his participation in the system and not the Good News of God’s liberation from death?
Jesus tells the Disciples about the resurrection and I’m sure it wasn’t a throwaway line such as, “Hey guys the fishing is good today and also I’m going to die but don’t worry brb.” In fact, I’m not sure there is a conversation where that isn’t the main focus- or at least worthy of follow up questions – yet that is the reaction of Peter to this news. He only hears the bad news and his part in it.
Friends, our scripture this week reminds us to hear the Good News for all and not just the news that involves us. What are things we can do this week – either in our personal or communal life- that helps us hear the Good News of Jesus in its entirety? What do we need to do to make sure our response to the resurrection isn’t “never!” but “always!” I’m not sure of your answer to that question but for me, repeating it is always helpful. So, for those of you who need to hear this today, here you go. The resurrection of Jesus isn’t dependent on our actions, but the resurrection of humanity is.
A quick prayer for your week: O Lord, help me hear your good news. Amen
Week of Compassion's Global Response to COVID-19
A global pandemic means that people are in need close to home and around the world. Disciples want to know how to help. Week of Compassion has been working with partners to help those in need, through responses primarily focused on food security.
Week of Compassion is more than a week. It is a ministry of the whole Church, reaching those in need "around the world, around the year.” As the relief, refugee, and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Week of Compassion works with partners to alleviate suffering throughout the world.
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from The Rev. Cara Gilger
Dear Park Families,
Last week our lesson was based on Matthew 16:13-20 as the Disciples inquire who Jesus is and Jesus tells Peter he will be the rock the church is founded on and learn about the foundation that God provides all of us to love and do justice.
This week we will be departing a bit from the adult worship scripture and studying John 10 in The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible. This passage tells the story of the parable of the lost sheep, so we will be utilizing AJ Levine’s book Who Counts? as part of our lesson about how God cares for us, forgives us and wants us to be a part of what God is doing in the world.
As we prepare for Sunday’s lesson, families can discuss the following table topics during dinner to begin engaging this week’s teaching themes:
If you were lost in the forest what three things would you need to find your way?
Who is a person that helps you when you are feeling lost?
Looking forward to seeing your children on Sunday at 10:30am on BlueJeans. If you need a link to sign up for our Children’s Worship email Stephanie Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pandemic of Love is a mutual aid community of care that was started in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. It humbly began on March 14th, 2020 by one person and was intended to help her own local community. But, like an epidemic, the act of love and kindness spread quickly and is now a beautiful movement helping those in need throughout the world.
What is a mutual aid community? It connects people in need with patrons who can help with that need. This is a tangible way for people to give to each other, quickly, discretely and directly.
What’s the catch? There is none. Kind people are introduced to kind people which results in an act of kindness and human connection.