It was one of my first gatherings at The Park back in October, and Pastor Kaji offered a devotional to begin our time together. I cannot remember what scripture we read nor for what purpose we were gathered, but I distinctly remember the question she posed: “What are you fighting for?”
I wrestled with this question for weeks, like Jacob wrestled with God. I could list things I was fighting against – systemic oppression, the patriarchy, ableism, heterosexism, anti-black racism, and more - but naming what I am fighting for was a harder task.
This week’s scripture is one of many that pointed me toward my current answer. It comes to us from a book called The Wisdom of Solomon which is part of the Septuagint (Greek translations of the Old Testament discovered in Egypt), but generally not included in the Jewish Scriptures. This book is considered apocryphal by most Protestant Churches, so it’s not usually included when we talk about the Bible. Still, it remains a part of the Church’s literature and was appointed no later than the Fourth Century CE by the Church Fathers as ἀναγιγνωσκόμενα, or one of "those which are to be read." It, like many pieces of literature, has wisdom and insight to offer into who God is and how God is at work. Let’s read this passage together:
13 For God is not the author of death
and does not delight in desolation;
14 God created all things to be alive.
All things of the world are made to be wholesome,
and there is no poison in them.
The netherworld has no power over the earth,
15 for justice lasts forever.
23 For God created us to be imperishable,
and modeled us on the divine nature;
24 it was the devil’s envy that
brought death to the world,
as those who call themselves partners of the devil
will soon find out.
[Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15, 2:23-24 (ILB)]
Beloved, God wants us to live, to be fully alive. God mourns our suffering with us and rejoices when we live wholly. God has created each of us for abundant life. God has fashioned justice, so that every living thing can be alive, and while death, envy, and other tools of evil have poisoned the world, this text promises there is no poison in the living and that justice, which lasts forever, shall overcome.
For these reasons and so many others, I fight for the same reason Jesus came to Earth: that all may have life and have it abundantly. The things I fight against were created by evil, and I have assurance from scripture that abundant life, justice, and love will overcome them all.
I am grateful for the work each of you have done in the fight to be alive and hope to continue in this struggle alongside you well into the future. Together, we can live into God’s vision for us. We were made to revel in abundant life surrounded by forever-long justice and far away from the envy and death of evil. And every step towards justice brings us all closer to being wholly alive.
I look forward to greeting y’all virtually this Sunday. May we all come alive a little more this week as we continue our walk with God and God’s people.
Kelsey Creech Resident Seminarian
(Image of a drawing on my bedroom’s bulletin board)
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian
Last Sunday, the children and I had an eventful time together. My internet was down, so I called in on my phone, but together, we made things work and were able to have meaningful times of fellowship and study. The older children and I read Mark 4:35-41 in our Inclusive Language Bible and the younger children, Mr. Trevor, and I read “Jesus Calms a Storm” in our Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible. We talked about fear, compassion, gentleness, and doubt.
One of our older children arrived at this wise takeaway: “When we doubt God or ourselves, we let fear in. We have to keep faith in God and ourselves, so we can be brave.”
This week, the older children and I will read some text from the beginning of Wisdom of Solomon in our Inclusive Language Bible, and the younger children and I will read “God Loves What is Right and Fair” in our Tiny Truths: Wonder & Wisdom book. We will pray, sing, and say goodbye with a blessing.
Our children are wise and extraordinary and talented and kind and so very loved. May it always be so.
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.
We have concluded our study of Juan Gonzalez's Harvest of Empire, and on July 18 we'll be taking up a new social justice focus—beginning with a review and commentary by one of our participants and followed by our response with regard to what God requires of us. We would love to have you join us and share your perspective, experience, hopes, and concerns.
Join Rev. Stephanie at the 2021 Disciples Virtual Gathering! Registration is now LIVE! Join Disciples from across the US and Canada for this one day, live event on August 7. Featuring Bible study, workshops and worship as we celebrate that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.
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.