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Sunday, December 26 with / Domingo, 26 de diciembre con

The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

11:00 am ET
Bloom in New Beginnings: Christmas

Beloved Friends,

What a gift it is to share in the birth of Jesus with you this year. It has been a year of challenges and hope, of disappointment and new connections. It has been a year unlike any other and we are so grateful that you have chosen to spend this year with us at The Park. This week we have two services. Christmas Eve at 11 pm and Sunday at 11 am. Be sure to bring your advent wreath. Or a candle to the Christmas Eve service as we will welcome the birth of Jesus by singing silent night by candlelight at midnight. On Sunday Bible Study and Children’s Bible Study will still be at 10 am and all are welcome! Friends. I hope that you all have a safe holiday filled with the love of Christ and the hope found in the embrace of beloved community.
As I shared last week, we have a lot of scripture to cover this week. We will be reading all four pieces in our Christmas Eve service and then revisiting the Luke passage on Sunday. These texts all connect through the themes of newness and grace as we prepare and celebrate the birth of Christ. As you read these texts, I invite you to think about the following questions:
What images of God are present in the passages?
Where is God at work in these passages?
Does that change when Jesus arrives?
What voices or stories are you curious about in these passages?
Do any of these scriptures feel like a prayer?
What is your hope this Christmas?
Let us now read these passages from our Holy Scriptures as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ and the newness that comes with this holy and precious gift:


Isaiah 26:
16 HOLY ONE, in distress they sought you,
they pressed out a whispered prayer
when your chastening was on them.
17 Just as an expectant mother
writhes-in-labor and cries out in her pangs
when her birthing time is near;
thus were we because of you, Holy One.
18 We too were expectant, we writhed-in-labor,
but it was as though we birthed only wind.
No victories have we won on earth,
neither do the inhabitants of the world fall.
19 Your dead shall live; their corpses shall rise.
Awake and sing for joy you who dwell in the dust!
For your dew is a radiant dew,
and the earth shall release those long dead.
Psalm 68:
4 Sing to God, sing praises to her Name;
exalt her who rides upon the clouds;
HOLY is her Name, rejoice before her!
5 Mother of orphans and defender of widows,
is God in her holy habitation!
6 God settles the solitary in a home bringing prisoners into prosperity;
while the rebellious shall live in a wasteland.
7 God, when you marched before your people,
when you moved out through the wilderness,
8 the earth shook, even the heavens poured down,
at the presence of God, the One of Sinai,
at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
9 Rain in abundance, God, you showered abroad;
when your heritage grew weary you prepared rest.
10 Your creatures found a dwelling in her;
God, you provided in your goodness for the oppressed.
11 The AUTHOR OF LIFE gave the word;
the women who proclaim the good news are a great army.
1 Thessalonians 4:
13 Now we do not want you to be ignorant, sisters and brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you might not grieve as those do who have no hope 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose, even so they who sleep, will God by Jesus, bring with him. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Most High God, that we who are alive, who remain until the coming of Jesus, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For Jesus himself, with a command, in the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first, 17 Then we who are alive who are left, together with them, will be caught up in the clouds to meet Jesus in the air; and so we will be with Jesus forever. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Luke 2:
1 Now it happened in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered (for taxation). 2 This was the first registration and occurred while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 So all went to be registered; each to their own towns. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth in to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, for he was from the house and heritage of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was betrothed and who was pregnant. 6 So it was, that, while they were there, the time came for her to birth her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and swaddled him, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 Shepherds were in that region there staying in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Most High God came upon them, and the glory of the Living God shone around them, and they were greatly terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Fear not. Look! For I proclaim to you good news of great joy for all the people:  11 For there is born to you this day a Savior who is the Messiah, the Sovereign God, in the city of David. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby swaddled and lying in a manger." 13 And immediately there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly array, praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among peoples whom God favors!"
15 And it happened when the angels had departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to be, which the Sovereign God has made known to us." 16 So they came hurrying and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 Now seeing this, they made known what had been spoken to them about this child. 18 And all who heard marveled at what was spoken by the shepherds to them. 19 But Mary preserved all these words and pondered them in her heart.
20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was just as it had been told them.
May your Christmas bring about the hope and love of God in ways that bring you peace and joy.

You are so loved, friends.

Merry Christmas,
Rev. Stephanie


Simple Prayer: O Holy One, we give thanks for the Christ child and the new love, hope, word, and grace made flesh in his birth. Amen.
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from Nordia Bennett, Children’s Minister

The Spirit led as we chatted about the importance of music and how we use music to help us communicate when words cannot be used, and watched an excerpt of the movie, "Sisters Act 2". The 10:30 am younger group spent some time in Tiny Truths Bible, Psalm 65:8 "Joy" and where they were able to indicate the joy of singing and identify for themselves the kind of excitement their favorite songs bring to their lives. At 10 am, the older group spent a lot of time discussing the tenets of prayer-- why is prayer important? What does one say when they pray? How does one feel after prayer?  

Heads up, I suggested to the students, if they desire, to sit with a favorite song and observe the emotions that arise as they are listening.  

Here is the link to the Sisters Act 2 movie for reference: 

This Sunday, our older and younger students will meet at 10 am (4th grade or older) for fellowship to read Psalm 68:4-11. We’ll discuss more about how music helps us express ourselves and tell our stories. 10:30 am (3rd grade or younger) will be exploring “The First Christmas" in The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible. 


Minister Nordia

Co-hosted by Rev. Stephanie Kendell and Rev. Arthur Stewart

With guest, Laurie Pound Feille

Wednesday, December 29, 1:00 pm ET
Weekly Invitations to Community:
Pandemic of Love

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.

Click here for more info.
Free zoom dance and fitness classes designed for older adults

Videos anyone can watch and participate with to bring some movement and creative expression into the day:

And for those older adults who are not comfortable with or don’t have access to internet, phone classes M-F 11-12pm: (339-207-6343)

Classes are in English now but we are working on adding a Spanish speaking class soon.
Upcoming Events

Friday, December 24, Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, 11:00 pm

Saturday, December 25, Community Lunch Program, 4:00 - 6:00 pm, Manhattan Church of Christ 48 East 80th Street

Monday, December 27 through Saturday, January 1, office closed

Saturday, January 1, Community Lunch Program, 1:00 pm, Manhattan Church of Christ 48 East 80th Street

Saturday, January 8, Community Lunch Program, 1:00 pm, Manhattan Church of Christ 48 East 80th Street

Saturday, January 15, Community Lunch Program, 1:00 pm, Manhattan Church of Christ 48 East 80th Street

Sunday, January 16, SoulFood Fellowship, 12:30 pm

Monday, January 17, Roots: Community Conversation, 7:00 pm

Tuesday, January 18, Finance Meeting, 6:00 pm

Tuesday, January 18, Ministry Council,
7:00 pm

Saturday, January 22, Community Lunch Program, 1:00 pm, Manhattan Church of Christ 48 East 80th Street
This Week at The Park is published every Thursday by
Park Avenue Christian Church
1010 Park Avenue at 85th Street, New York, NY 10028

Church office:  212-288-3246.   Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.