I hope that you are all having a week filled with joy and hope. As I keep seeing the pics of people getting their vaccines, I long for the time that we can be together and am filled with renewed hope that we will one day be able to make that happen. Keep it up, friends. Your care for each other through this vaccination, is a joy to behold. This week we are in the 5th Sunday of Easter and God continues to resurrect life anew in our midst. New life is everywhere in this season. The plants are budding, the birds are hatching, and God is doing something new in you as well. We hope that you will share all that God is doing in your life with our many ministry gatherings this month, starting with Bible Study and Worship this Sunday! We also have new Bloom curriculum coming on Saturday, so keep an eye out for it and all the opportunities to gather and connect.
This past week, I was on a continuing education week. Your pastors engage in what is called “continuing education” various times throughout the year. Continuing education is not vacation. Continuing education is a time to engage in prayer, study, and learning opportunities that help enrich and deepen our understanding of God’s love and work in the world and in our community. One of my practices when I go away for continuing ed is that I take a list of every person who is a member of our church and I pray for you all- individually and by name. I also took this week’s scripture with me because it calls us to love one another, to call each other friends, and to think about all the ways our lives are intertwined with each other and with God.
Let’s read together this passage from the Gospel of John.
9 As my Abba has loved me,
so have I loved you. Live on in my love.
10 And you will live on in my love
if you keep my commandments,
just as I live on in Abba God’s love
and have kept God’s commandments.
11 I tell you all this that my joy may be yours,
and your joy may be complete.
12 This is my commandment:
love one another as I have loved you.
13 There is no greater love
than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
14 And you are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
15 I no longer speak of you as subordinates,
because a subordinate doesn’t know a superior’s business.
Instead, I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learned from Abba God.
16 It was not you who chose me;
it was I who chose you
to go forth and bear fruit.
Your fruit must endure,
so that whatever you ask of Abba God in my name
God will give you.
17 This command I give you:
that you love one another.
[John 15:9-17 (ILB)/ Juan 15:9-17 (NVI)]
So, friends, whether love for another comes easy or not, remember that you are part of a love that endures and calls you to the larger body in the time, way, and place that is right for you. And regardless of what path we take it’s all a part of what makes a waterfall magical- we are all a part of the overwhelming and enduring awe of God.
We tend to think of waterfalls as the big dump of water going off a cliff into a vast pool. And sometimes our love for others happens like that. Bold, easy, and abundant. But if you take a closer look, some of the same water from the waterfall takes a different and much slower path. Drop by drop it makes its way down from the top, onto the side of cliff, through the rocks, over the tree, and any other obstacle in its path, sometimes pooling along the way, not making it into the larger body of water until much later. And sometimes our love for others happens like that. It’s challenging, intentional, and sometimes seems imperceivable. But the thing is- it’s all water – it’s all love. God calls us to love one another, and we know how to do that because Jesus loves us. But just because the path of your love may look different than someone else’s, doesn’t mean that God is any less a part of it. It is all part of the same larger body of water that moves, renews, and endures.
The enduring commandment to love one another is one I think about often. God’s love for us is so gracious and abundant for us, but I sometimes find it challenging to always operate with that same abundance. Does that resonate for you too? This past week, I took a hike to a waterfall and read this scripture several times and the two together taught me something about this call to love that I want to share with you.
Simple Prayer: O Lord, Overwhelm us with your abundant grace and love. Amen.
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian
Last week, our children read about Jesus, the good shepherd. The older children spent some time discussing the ways the good shepherd leads and how we can know that we are following the good shepherd. We even talked about the potential for a sort of Unitarianism as Jesus could shepherd multiple religious flocks. The younger children talked about the one sheep that Jesus searches for and the comfort we can find in knowing that the good shepherd will always come search for us, no matter how lost we get. We also had a visit from Irving and his wonderful puppeteer, Trevor Allen.
This Sunday, our older students will read John 15:1-17 and talk about Jesus, the vine, and us, the branches as well as what that metaphor tells us about staying connected to God’s love. This continues our prior discussions about who Jesus is.
Our younger students will read “God is Love” in Tiny Truths Wonder & Wisdom and talk about how we know God and experience God’s love. We will, as always, pray, sing, and say goodbye with a blessing.
I am looking forward to another wonderful Sunday with the children of The Park and in worship with all of you!
Please share this information/invitation with all of your online networks--other Disciples, other Christians, other people of faith, and other persons of conscience--via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. Thanks and blessings!
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 Juan Gonzalez’sHarvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America. 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, colonialism, and what God requires of us. We would love to have you join us and share your perspective, experience, hopes, and concerns.
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.