I hope this week has kept you dry and warm. I just came back from the General Board meeting of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) which is one of our denominational affiliations, where I got to share the incredible work we are doing at The Park. I came back just in time to start our Lenten journey together where we had an inspired and truly wonderful Ash Wednesday service. This Sunday we will also start our Inspire 2020 curriculum for March. Can you believe it’s already Lent? Time sure does fly by but every day I am so grateful that I get to journey with you all. See you Sunday at 11am for worship!
When I was a kid I used to talk to my stuffed animals. I would tell them my secrets, tell them jokes, and tell them the stories of my days. And then I would wait for them to speak back. But now that I am an adult, I look back at those conversations and wonder what would have happened if they did? I probably would have done whatever it said. When something that magical is shown to you, you pay attention. Which is why whenever this week’s text comes up, and people ask why Adam and Eve listened to the snake, I always wonder what I would have done? What would any of us do if out of the blue, animals started to talk to us? Would you think it was a message from God? Would it matter what animal it was? Let’s read together from Genesis the story of humans first day in the garden of Eden.
Then God took the earth creature and settled it in the garden of Eden so that it might cultivate and care for the land. God commanded the earth creature,
“You may eat as much as you like
from any of the trees of the garden—
except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
You must not eat from that tree,
for on the day you eat from that tree,
that is the day you will die—yes, die.”
But the snake was even more naked: the most cunning of all the animals that God had made.
The snake asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat from the trees in the garden?”
The woman answered the snake, “We may eat fruit from all the other trees in the garden. But of the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘Don’t eat it and don’t touch it, or you will die.’”
The snake said to the woman, “Die? You won’t die! God knows well that on the day that you eat it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil!”
The woman knew that the tree was enticing to the eye, and now saw that the fruit was good to eat—that it was desirable for the knowledge it could give. So, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She gave some also to the man beside her, and he ate it.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked. So, they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
(Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7)
So, what would you have done? It seems like an easy answer when we have all the facts- when we know how the story ends. But in the beginning, when first faced with the unknown I can see how the knowledge of what’s next could outweigh the fear of retribution for not following a direction. These questions seem especially pertinent as we start this season of lent. God said the humans would die with this new knowledge. Jesus was essentially told that too. Given the opportunity to know the end, would the disciples have eaten the fruit? Would Jesus? Would you?
Friends, this Lenten journey you are surely going to encounter new things- see God in new ways. People and things may also tempt you from your journey. You may want to skip the process and know the end before it’s time. Wait and be patient. Know that God is at work and moving you toward something new- something promised. The snakes may be flashy and surprising, but trust that salvation done on God’s time is worth the wait-and is much cooler than a talking snake.
A quick prayer for your week: God, help me be patient and work on your time not mine. Amen
Children and Youth Ministry Update
Dear Park People,
On Sunday, February 23rd, the children read 1 Corinthians 12:14-28, in which Saint Paul discusses the diversity of spiritual gifts within the body of Christ. This led to a discussion of our own spiritual gifts (many of which manifest as talents used in the wider world) and the many ways that they bless us, and our community. The children mentioned the talents and skills that they enjoy using, which included sports (soccer, tennis; basketball) creative work (ballet; singing) and intellectual skills (chess; writing). They also brought up the things that we all can do, specifically as followers of Jesus in the world, which included helping others with their work, caring for and visiting people who are sick, and trying to help people feel better when they are sad. For their creative response, the children had another free-choice crafting session, making items to sell at our craft fair. They made fans, bracelets, notebooks, ‘zines, decorated t-shirts, fancy headbands...
On March 1st, the children will prepare for Lent by reading Luke 4: 1-13, in which Jesus faces temptation by Satan in the wilderness. We will talk about the ways that Jesus chose to use the power that God had given him, in good, helpful ways, and refused to use it in selfish, mean ways. How can we make good choices about using the power that God gives us? For their creative response, the children will do writing (poems, stories, or essays) using the prompt: “God gives me power to do good.”
May we all be inspired to make a holy Lent, remembering the adage that I have used as a motto for many years, which comes from the Spider Man comic books: “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
Blessings and well wishes as always,
Rev. Francesca Maria (Miriam): Children’s Minister
A fun and unofficial video Rev. Stephanie Kendell made to get the
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) admin committee and general board (and now all of you) excited for General Assembly 2021. Our theme is “Covenant: Nothing Can Separate Us From the Love of God,” inspired by Romans 8:38-39 (NRSV).