I hope this week has found you happy and healthy. As more and more of us get vaccinated and start to safely gather with our loved ones for the first time in years, know that I am praying with and for you. Entering new spaces after a year of isolation, even spaces that were once familiar, can be anxiety inducing. Be gentle with yourself. The hard work of self-care and care for others continues. This week we are once again gathering online for Worship, Bible Study, and Fellowship. It’s a YASS Sunday too! So, we hope to see you there!
A few weeks ago, our Two on One topic was Ted Lasso. This is a show that I love for a lot of reasons, but one is that I believe the titular character operates with a life hermeneutic of curiosity in a way that I hope we can all find a way to embody A hermeneutic, for those of you unfamiliar with this word, is a method of interpretation. We think of interpretation primarily between languages, but really, we are interpreting everything in our lives. We interpret emotions and postures. We interpret relationships and stories. We are interpreting people, but the lens of interpretation varies between each of us. Ted’s interpretive lens (or hermeneutic) is curiosity. Ted is curious about people’s lives and their work, and he is curious about faith and the reasons behind actions. I see Ted’s hermeneutic of curiosity very much at work in this week’s scripture. As you read this week’s scripture from the Book of Acts, I invite you to think about the way you interpret scripture (and life). Let us read now together Acts 8: 26-40:
26 An angel of God spoke to Philip and said, “Be ready to set out at noon along the road that goes to Gaza, the desert road.” 27 So Philip began his journey.
It happened that an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official in charge of the entire treasury of Candace, the ruler of Ethiopia, had come to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage 28 and was returning home. He was sitting in his carriage and reading the prophet Isaiah.
29 The Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and meet that carriage.”
30 When Philip ran up, he heard the eunuch reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 “How can I,” the eunuch replied, “unless someone explains it to me?” With that, he invited Philip to get in the carriage with him. 32 This was the passage of scripture being read:
“You are like a sheep being led to slaughter,
you are like a lamb that is mute in front of its shearers:
like them, you never open your mouth.
33 You have been humiliated
and have no one to defend you.
Who will ever talk about your descendants,
since your life on earth has been cut short?”
34 The eunuch said to Philip, “Tell me, if you will, about whom the prophet is talking—himself or someone else?”
35 So Philip proceeded to explain the Good News about Jesus to him.
36 Further along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is some water right there. Is there anything to keep me from being baptized?” 37 “And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And the eunuch said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten of God.’”
38 He ordered the carriage to stop; then Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came out of the water, the Spirit of God snatched Philip away; the eunuch didn’t see him anymore and went on his way rejoicing.
40 Philip found himself at Ashdod next, and he went about proclaiming the Good News in all the towns, until he came to Caesarea.
[Acts 8:26-40 (ILB) / Hechos 8:26-40 (NVI)]
Were you able to name how you interpreted this scripture? Were you curious or suspicious? Maybe you were hopeful or longing. I interpreted with curiosity and some of the questions I have are, why is the Eunuch court official only known by his physical characteristics, gender, and sexuality? What was their name? What made both of these people trust the faith of the other? What does this text have to teach us about the difference between reading and understanding? These are just some of the things that came up for me. I’m curious about what came up for you.
Friends, God is doing the most with and for each of us and we take that in, in so many ways. We interpret and reinterpret all that God is doing and it informs and motivates each of us to move forward in our faith the way that the Eunuch court official does in this story. I hope this week we can all be curious about the faith of others and may that inform and help us grow in our own relationship to Christ and Christ’s beloved community.
Simple Prayer: O Lord, make me curious where I am judgmental. Amen.
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian
Last week, our older students read Luke 15. We talked about the similarities between the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. We left with the emphatic lesson that God will always look for us, no matter how lost we are, and always celebrate our return, no matter how long we’ve been gone. We talked about how sometimes it’s hard to “go into the party” and celebrate what we find irredeemable, but that God can still find ways to celebrate even we can’t. The final word offered by our students was “doing something bad doesn’t make somebody a bad person.” And, friends, that’s a word I’ve carried with me all week.
Our younger students read “God is Love” in Tiny Truths Wonder & Wisdom. We talked about God’s love for us and how we can show God’s love and left with the assurance that God will always love us and that God is present when we love others because God is love.
This Sunday, our students will all meet together at 10:30 with Rev. Stephanie and Mr. Trevor. Mr. Trevor’s good friend, Irving, the puppet, will lead the children in our liturgy and a discussion of mother, grandmothers, and mothering presences in their lives to celebrate Mother’s day.
I will be worshipping alongside all of you with my mother this Sunday, and I look forward to joining Rev. Stephanie and Pastor Kaji in worship next week. Happy Mother’s day to all those who do traditionally maternal work in your personal lives and in this community! I am grateful for each of you!
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.