I hope that this week is calling you into new and bold spaces – audacious moments with God. Maybe you find that courage and audacity in your Bloom bag journal reflections? Maybe you realize it’s not something you need, but something you already have. No matter where you are on your audacious journey with God, we are here to love and support you. We hope you have marked your calendar to join us for the conversation happening tonight, where Pastor Kaji will be interviewing the Manhattan DA candidates. This race will affect everyone no matter where you live, so we hope you can join us. Sign up for the link here. We also look forward as we do every week to coming together to worship God and nurture the works that have been started in our lives. This Wednesday is Bloom in Community hosted by Trevor Allen! No matter what ministries you attend, we are always grateful you are a part of this beloved community.
Friends, this week our scripture contains one of my favorite versions of Jesus.
A question I get often is, “what is your favorite version of Jesus?” (and if you have never been asked this, I invite you to think about your own answer). And my answer has always been John 2’s Jesus. When we talk about Jesus we often talk about the softer sides of his love and communal engagement. And with good reason, we as a society generally value brute strength over emotional vulnerability, so talking about Jesus' vulnerable ways is always helpful. But today’s Jesus is troubled. He is destructive. He is angry. This passage invites us into spaces of holy anger for justice’s sake and for that I am always thankful. Let us read today from the Gospel of John.
13 Since it was almost the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14 In the Temple, he found people selling cattle, sheep and pigeons, while moneychangers sat at their counters. 15 Making a whip out of cords, Jesus drove them all out of the Temple—even the cattle and sheep—and overturned the tables of the money changers, scattering their coins. 16 Then he faced the pigeon sellers: “Take all this out of here! Stop turning God’s house into a market!” 17 The disciples remembered the words of scripture: “Zeal for your house consumes me.”
18 The Temple authorities intervened and said, “What sign can you show us to justify what you’ve done?”
19 Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
20 They retorted, “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you’re going to raise it up in three days?” 21 But the temple he was speaking of was his body. 22 It was only after Jesus had been raised from the dead that the disciples remembered this statement and believed the scripture—and the words that Jesus had spoken.
[John 2:13-22 (ILB)/ Juan 2:13-22 (NVI) ]
I know this may not be the Jesus we talk about most often and I don’t know about you, but “Holy Anger Jesus” is the one I call on most in these days. He reminds me that I need to disrupt the systems in my life that do not align my faith and actions. I need to follow Jesus not just in my love but in my anger as well. I need to take stock in my life and the systems that I serve and serve me and utilize my holy anger to flip the structures of power for the equity and justice of God’s people.
Friends, what do you need to flip the oppressive structure in your life that you support and are supported by? We all have them, and we all have a way out of them- if we follow Jesus in his fullness. Friends, this journey of lent is one that calls us into reflection of self and community and the change that comes from reflection is best done in holy community. I am grateful to be in community with you and if you need help shifting a system in your life – we’re here to help you flip it.
A quick prayer for your week: O Lord, help me use my holy anger for your good work. Amen
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian
Last Sunday, February 28, the youth and I began a new series. Turning our eyes to the cross, looming on Good Friday, we began with Palm Sunday and are walking the week of time between Palm Sunday and the Crucifixion. This marked the beginning of our series. We will spend the next five weeks reading a selection of scriptures in an effort to understand all the events following Palm Sunday that lead up to and give context for Easter Morning. My hope is that this slower pace will allow us to really understand the order and significance of each piece of this section of Jesus’ journey to the cross.
On Sunday February 28th, our older children met at 10 AM, and we read Luke 19:28-44, one recounting of Palm Sunday. We talked about the tremendous emotion and excitement it would take to throw cloaks at the foot of Jesus and were worried by Jesus’ final words in this passage. The tone is ominous as we look to the next few weeks.
Last Sunday, our younger children read the first section of “Jesus’ Last Days” in our Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible. We talked about the excitement and praise of Palm Sunday and were worried by the way the religious leaders bribed Judas. One child asked whether or not the story and Jesus were real, so we spent some time talking about truth and where we find truth in the bible. We prayed, sang, and said goodbye with a blessing.
This Sunday, March 7, we’ll read about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet in the Upper Room.
At 10 AM, our older students will meet to read John 13:1-17. We’ll learn some of the cultural context of the story, then ponder the significant of Jesus’ decision to wash his feet and what we feel we ought to do as a result. We’ll talk about any connections we see between this story and Palm Sunday and consider what might come next in our story.
At 10:30 AM, our younger children will follow this same storytelling structure. This Sunday, we will read the second section of “Jesus’ Last Days” in our Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible. We’ll talk about foot-washing, communion, and how it would have felt to be there with Jesus and his disciples. As always, we will pray, sing, and say goodbye with a blessing.
What a joy it is to be a part of this community and involved in the ministries of The Park. I am grateful for each of you!
Well, it isn't food for your stomach (though when we are able to meet again in person, we will share a brown bag lunch right after church), but it is food — almost a banquet — for your soul.
SoulFood Fellowship is a gathering of The PARK members and friends who get together from near and far after worship on the third Sunday of each month. We engage in conversation that is bound to get you thinking and talking. We discuss and reflect on books, articles, documentary films, or plays —in light of our faith, Bible Study, and concern for social justice.
Right now we’re focusing on Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for our Own, by Eddie Glaude, Jr. Don't worry if you haven't read the book. It is a slow read that calls forth loads of discussion and reflection on our country, racism, and what God requires of us. We would love to have you join us and share your perspective, experience, hopes, and concerns.
For more information, please contact either Richard Sturm or Stephanie Wilson at the church.
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.