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Sunday, September 19 with / Domingo, 19 de septiembre con

Rev. Kaji Douša

11:00 am EDT
Bloom with Expansiveness: The Power of Words

Dear Ones,

Over the past eighteen months, we have seen first-hand the power words hold. We have heard and chanted phrases like “Black Lives Matter” and “Know Justice, Know Peace” that call us to confront injustice in our society and in ourselves. We have witnessed as words spurred white supremacists to insurrection and as language inadvertently made the choice to get a lifesaving vaccine partisan and contestable. And as our community now grieves the loss of so many beloved children of God, we know how words hold the power of memory and keep people with us after their bodies have stopped breathing.


Words have value. Words have power. Words can deceive us and obscure the truth, or they can break us open and set the truth free. Words tell stories that help us remember our past and envision God’s future. Jesus, as The Word themself, understood the power of words and language better than anyone, and some of Jesus’ musings on language are revealed through this week’s scripture.

Coming to us from the book of Matthew, which was written for the primary purpose of telling Jewish people about the Messiah, we have a Jesus whose Jewishness has been enhanced and who speaks in metaphors that hinge on the importance of shared Jewish Culture and allow for the ostracization of those who don’t belong to their way of life. This is not my favorite picture of Jesus, but it’s the one we meet in Matthew 18. Let’s read together, remembering the importance of community for the oppressed Jews at this time and the unique facets of Jesus heightened through the gaze of each Gospel’s author.

15 “If your sister or brother should commit some wrong against you, go and point out the error, but keep it between the two of you. If she or he listens to you, you have won a loved one back; 16 if not, try again, but take one or two others with you, so that every case may stand on the word of two or three witnesses. 17 If your sister or brother refuses to listen to them, refer the matter to the church. If she or he ignores even the church, then treat that sister or brother as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

18 “The truth is, whatever you declare bound on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you declare loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven.

19 “Again I tell you, if two of you on earth join in agreement to pray for anything whatsoever, it will be granted you by my Abba God in heaven. 20 Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.”

[Matthew 18:15-20 (ILB)/ Mateo 18:15-20 (NVI)]

Our scripture begins with a drawn-out explanation from Jesus on the importance of using our words to solve conflict. Far from the “eye for an eye” approach of the Old Testament (Lev. 24), Jesus calls us into conversation with one another to work through our disputes and arrive at a place of restitution. Jesus encourages us to speak with one another, involving others as necessary, to repair what has been broken. This mending hinges on the listening and genuine repentance of the one who has wronged the other. It hinges on the power of words to communicate where harm has happened and to bring communities back together.


Jesus goes on to tell us the extreme power of the words of the faithful. He asserts that what we declare bound will be bound and what we declare loosed will be loosed. Our words, those of forgiveness, grace, love, justice, and mercy, have the power to unbind people from the chains that hold them captive, oppress them, stunt their joy, and keep them from the abundant life God desires for us all. Our words have the power to free.


Lastly, Jesus tells us of the power of God language. Jesus affirms that gathering in the name of Jesus, that invoking the name of God in community, assures that God is there with us, and that through communal prayer in the name of Jesus, anything is possible.


Our words have value. Our words hold power. Our words can be weaponized, or our words can empower life. Our words will be irreplaceable as we grieve the loss of our siblings and heal from the trauma of a pandemic. 


May we use our words wisely and lovingly to encourage and to speak truth with justice and abundant life as their aim.


Joyfully Yours,
Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian

Our weekly Children’s Worship meetings have resumed!
Last Sunday, our older students met at 10 AM. We spent some time in fellowship talking about our summers, then read our scripture and did a line-by-line exegesis of Romans 12:9-21. We dwelled on the layered explanation Paul provided us of what love ought to look like in Christian Community  - noting that loving one another like siblings means we might quarrel from time to time, but ultimately, we’re on one another’s side and we work towards peace – that rest that arises when the world knows justice intimately.
Then at 10:30, our younger students met. Our children prayed together for the start of the school year, then read “Jesus Loves Kids” in our Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible and talked about the story. Our children all noted that our story taught us that Jesus is for everyone! We sang, prayed, and said goodbye with a blessing.
This Sunday, the older children will meet at 10 AM for fellowship and to read Matthew 18:15-20, and the younger children will meet at 10:30 AM to read “The Lost Sheep” in our Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible. I’m looking forward to these conversations with our children about the power of language, negotiating conflict, and the constant presence of God.
Looking forward to seeing some of you at our Bloom in  Conversation Event next Monday! I miss seeing your lovely faces on my screens.
May your week be blessed with fun, rest, and authenticity.
Joyfully yours,
Kelsey Creech
Resident Seminarian


(The illustration used here is from page 170 of Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible)

Grief is a tough thing to navigate, please do be kind to yourself this week and reach out to your pastors if you are in need of grief support.

Elaine Cunningham

1948 - 2021

Elaine Cunningham was a long time friend of The Park and will be dearly missed. If you would like to join in her celebration of life service on Saturday September 18 at 11:00 am, please go to the All Saints Episcopal Facebook page. Her obituary is available here


Alice Darlene Harris Hord

1941 - 2021
Alice Hord was the mother of The Disciples of Christ General Minister and President, Terri Hord Owens. Her obituary is available here.

September 20

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

With Guest: The Rev. Courtney Richards

Wednesday, September 22 1:00 pm EDT
October 10

RSVP to Stephanie Wilson.
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

Saturday, September 18, Community Lunch Program, 1:00 pm, Manhattan Church of Christ 48 East 80th Street

Monday, September 20, Bloom in Conversation, 7:00 pm

Tuesday, September 21, Finance Committee, 6:00 pm

Tuesday, September 21, Ministry Council Meeting, 7:00 pm

Saturday, September 25, Community Lunch Program, 1:00 pm, Manhattan Church of Christ 48 East 80th Street

Saturday, October 2, Community Lunch Program, 1:00 pm, Manhattan Church of Christ 48 East 80th Street

Sunday, October 3, Elders Meeting, 12:30 pm

Saturday, October 9, Community Lunch Program, 1:00 pm, Manhattan Church of Christ 48 East 80th Street

Sunday, October 10, YASS, 12:30 pm

Saturday, October 16, 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.