Thanks to Week of Compassion and the generous people of The Park, I have delivered hot meals, communion, gift cards for continued support including transportation, and rapid home covid tests to everyone who has needed it.
Dear Beloved Park Members and Friends,
The world is quite unpredictable, as we all know, and storms carry their own unpredictable nature that seems to disrupt and destroy with little warning. I hope you will forgive this coming as an email and not a phone call -as I deal with some flooding in my building but am otherwise fine- but I have been praying nonstop that you are all safe, dry, and healthy after last night's storm.
As I watch the news and see the flooding and damage that has happened, on top of an already stressful week (for a myriad of reasons), I am aware of how many different ways this storm might have affected all of you. I continue to hold you all in prayer and trust that God is with you as you navigate these times.
If you need support from me or the church please do reach out.
Sending loving care, safety, health, and peace to you all. Rev. Stephanie Kendell
Bloom with Expansiveness: When God is Human
This month, we are blooming with expansiveness. Part of that involves looking at the parameters we’ve set up around who God is and pushing past them. Our Bloom Reading for this month, The Book of Longings, does this by pushing our understanding of Jesus as both fully God and fully human.
For me, the Gospel of Mark does a similar thing. We can think of each Gospel as a slightly different portrait of who Jesus was. Each emphasizes different traits and delivers us a nuanced look at Jesus through one follower. Mark’s Gospel blesses us with the most human portrait of Jesus. This Jesus is more gruff than the Jesus of other gospels, and he doesn’t always come across as patient and kind as we envision the perfect, divine begotten one of God to be. This week’s scripture, Mark 7:24-37, tells one such story. Let’s read together:
“24 Jesus left Gennesaret and went to the territory of Tyre and Sidon. There he went into a certain house and wanted no one to recognize him, but he could not pass unrecognized.
25 A woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him. She approached Jesus and fell at his feet. 26 The woman, who was Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, begged Jesus to expel the demon from her daughter.
27 He told her, “Let the children of the household satisfy themselves at table first. It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”
28 She replied, “Yes, Rabbi, but even the dogs under the table eat the family’s scraps.”
29 Then Jesus said to her, “For saying this, you may go home happy; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 When she got home, she found her daughter in bed and the demon gone.
31 Jesus left the region of Tyre and returned by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Ten Cities.
32 Some people brought an individual who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and begged Jesus to lay hands on that person. 33 Jesus took the afflicted one aside, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the deaf ears and, spitting, touched the mute tongue with his saliva. 34 Then Jesus looked up to heaven and, with a deep sigh, said, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” 35 At once the deaf ears were opened and the impediment cured; the one who had been healed began to speak plainly.
36 Then Jesus warned them not to tell anyone; but the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. 37 Their amazement went beyond all bounds: “He has done everything well! He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak!”
[Mark 7:24-37 (ILB)/ Marcos 7:24-37 (NVI)]
This scripture is difficult. While we hear of Jesus healing many people and may see traces of humility in his insistence that they keep his identity secret, we also witness Jesus compare a woman and her child to dogs as he refuses to expel a demon from her child. Instead of theologizing about this moment and placing a bow on this week’s scripture, I’m going to encourage our community to sit in the discomfort it brings.
Let’s dwell together on why this story was important to be passed down through our tradition and what it reveals about God, about humanity, and maybe even about what is perfect. If we believe Jesus is without sin, which we do, then how do we make sense of this moment of rudeness, resistance, and gate-keeping? I invite you to sit with me in the discomfort of it. Maybe through community, we’ll find answers together - answers that expand our portrait of Jesus, our understanding of God, and our relationships to one another.
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian
Our weekly Children’s Worship meetings will return Sunday September 5, 2021!
We took a break from weekly meetings for Children’s Worship this August, but we are coming back this Sunday, and I am delighted to be back with the children of The Park!
This Sunday, our older students will meet at 10 AM. We will spend some time in fellowship, then read this week’s scripture, Mark 7:24-37. We’ll sit in the discomfort of the scripture and talk about what the woman’s actions and words teach us.
Then at 10:30, our younger students will meet. We’ll spend time in fellowship, then read “Jesus Heals a Little Girl” in our Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible and talk about the story. We’ll pray, sing, and say goodbye with a blessing.
I’m looking forward to this Sunday eagerly, and I wish you all a safe weekend and restful labor day!
(The illustration above is from page 148 of Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible)
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.
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.