As I look at the calendar, I am lamenting that we will not be gathered together to celebrate Homecoming this year the way we have done in years past. But as I think more about it, Homecoming signifies a return from being apart and while we are physically scattered, we have had more faithful attendance this summer in worship than in years past, so I suggest that is what we celebrate together this month. There are even new spaces to gather this month listed in the Inspire curriculum so be sure to check that out and mark your calendars!
I will admit it has been a while since I have read this week’s scripture. So, I gave myself 30 minutes with it and nothing else. Meaning, I read nothing but this scripture, changing inflection and cadence, imagining different types of narrators and accents reading the words. Picking a new character to explore and “be” as I read. Have you ever done this? If you haven’t, I highly recommend doing it with this scripture. Turn off the tv and the podcast, silence the phone and get in your favorite reading spot, and just let these words fill your spirit in new ways.
As I read this text, I was struck by one piece of it in a way I didn’t expect. It has to do with the way Joseph’s brothers used their power and power that wasn’t theirs to affect an outcome they had no control over. See if you understand what I am talking about as you read (hopefully for a full 30 minutes!) this week’s text from Genesis 50.
Pondering their father’s death, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph is angry with us and repays us for all the wrong, we did him?” So, they approached Joseph, saying: “Before Jacob died, he said to us, ‘You must say to Joseph: I beg you, please forgive your brothers their crime and their sin and all the wrong they did you.’ Now therefore, we ask you, forgive the crime of us who are faithful to the God of your parents.” Joseph wept when he heard this. Then the brothers wept also, and fell down before him, saying, “We present ourselves before you, as your attendants.”
Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid; is it for me to put myself in God’s place? You planned evil for me, but God planned it for the good, as it has come to pass this day—to bring about the survival of many people. So, you need not be afraid. I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this manner he assured them with words that touched their hearts. (Genesis 50:15-21)
Joseph’s brothers were scared because they had not been kind to their brother (that is me trying to put it nicely). I mean we need to be honest; his brothers were awful. And then when they became scared they used the power of Jacob and his relationship to their faith to hopefully influence Joseph. Now, we as people of faith use God’s power all the time. In fact, I did a digital wedding this weekend where I said, “By the power vested in me by the state of New York and the God of all blessings great and small, I pronounce you married and partners for life.” And we sing about God’s almighty power weekly hoping to imbue our community with a life force from the Holy Spirit anew. So, using the power of God for the betterment of community is a part of our faith practice. But what we shouldn't do, is use God’s power to manipulate an outcome for our own personal gain. That is the power in faith communities that has viciously permeated society and “Christians” to cast out Jesus’s faithful followers when they challenge authority. And using the power of God in that way is sinful y’all.
This month we are exploring our prophetic imagination. That includes talking with God and sharing what God has placed on your heart and in your life that makes you and your relationship to creation stronger. But what we must always ask ourselves is, is this our power to use?
Friends, this is an especially important question for kindom building work that includes people of all faiths and no faith alike. We must never use God’s power as a weapon or for our own personal gain. Not in our homes, in our churches, or in our communities. But we must use our own personal power- power gifted to us from God through scripture, prayer, and relationships- to build a just and loving world for all creation. Every day.
A quick prayer for your week: O Lord, help me know my power and how to use it for your good work. 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,
I want to start with a word of gratitude. This Sunday marks the end of my time with the children of the church, as Rev Francesca returns from sabbatical. Thank you for allowing me the deep honor of getting to know your children this summer and growing in our faith together. It has been my joy each week to see their sweet faces online and to discover God’s good word together.
Last Sunday we studied the passage from Romans and worked on the memory verse “love your neighbor as yourself.” We talked about who our neighbor is and what it means to love them when we might not know or like our neighbor.
This Sunday we will be exploring Genesis 50 alongside the adults in worship and focusing on learning the story of Jacob and his brothers, while also wondering what it means that God calls us to forgive one another. We will be using our worship boxes and learning from page 80 of The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible. I am excited that both myself and Rev Francesca will be able to share in this time with the kids as we make their transition smooth.
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.