I hope that this week finds you warm and well. This week I went to the church for the first time in a year to build our bloom bags and I said a prayer for this community that you would all continue to feel the presence of God through the love of this community even though we are apart. If you did not get your Bloom Bag or if you did not email Stephanie Wilson, please do so today. This coming Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday and Valentine’s Day and we hope that you will celebrate with us, the love of God inbreaking to this world, at our 11am worship. We also want to make sure that on your calendar is Ash Wednesday. Join us for a time of worship at 6pm next Wednesday. Make sure to open your bloom bag that morning as well, as it contains your ashes.
This week as I mentioned is the Transfiguration. It is a text that I have studied and wrestled with every year. I’m not sure why this text is one that I struggle with. Possibly because I often see myself as Peter in that situation- trying to make sense of what God is showing me, rather than leaning into the awe of it all. Who do you see yourself as in this gathering of timeless prophets and teachers?
Let’s read together from the Gospel according to Mark.
“2 Six days after that, Jesus took Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone.
And there Jesus was transfigured before their eyes; 3 the clothes Jesus wore became dazzlingly white—whiter than any earthly bleach could make them.
4 Elijah appeared to them, as did Moses, and the two were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter spoke to Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “how wonderful it is for us to be here! Let us make three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah!” 6 Peter did not know what he was saying, so overcome were they all with awe.
7 Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them; and there came a voice from out of the cloud: “This is my Beloved, my Own; listen to this One.” 8 Then suddenly, when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore—only Jesus.
I get Peter’s immediate reaction to look around and think “well here is where we break ground to remember this day! People are going to want to come to this place and experience all that Jesus, Moses and Elijah have to offer us. To remember the timelessness of our faith in this gathering of our teachers, prophets, and savior.” I want to find ways to hold on to the things that amaze me, too.
It’s why we have church buildings and digital worship spaces. We gather together to remember and worship the specialness that is and was and is to come in Jesus the Christ. And I’m not trying to say that these spaces go against the work of Jesus. I mean to remind us that these places are not the only spaces where these moments happen. To think so is to try and capture and keep and hold onto the Gospel.
But today’s scripture reminds us what we continue to forget,
and that is -
The Gospel does not dwell.
Friends, The Gospel is a call to move with God through love and justice. So, may this day of transfiguration be a reminder that our commitment to Jesus is a commitment to give the Gospel – the love of Jesus Christ – wings rather than a place to dwell.
A quick prayer for your week: O Lord, may your love take flight with every word I speak and every action I take. Amen
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian
On Sunday February 7, the older students and I read Isaiah 40:21-31 in the Inclusive Language Bible, then discussed the passage. We situated this text in its time in Israelite history and spoke about what it meant for Isaiah to be speaking hope to these outcasts. We then spent time discussing the Holy Trinity, the Godhead and discerning what it means to “wait on God” (v. 31) when God is already inside us, contrasting this with what it would have been like to wait for Creator God to do some big act of saving.
At 10:30, the younger students and I gathered and read “Jesus Loves Kids” in our Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible. We learned about the moment where the disciples tried to keep young children away from Jesus, but Jesus told his disciples to “let the children come” to him. We discussed the reasons that Jesus would have been so busy and why the disciples would have wanted to keep the children from him, and how it might have felt to be held in Jesus’ arms and blessed by God.
The children began comparing Jesus to their parents, who live busy lives but always make time for them. After discussing how fortunate they were to have parents who showed Christ’s love to them in such a tangible way, we parted ways with a song and a blessing.
This Sunday, February 14, the older children and I will read Mark 1:40-45, and the younger children and I will read “Jesus Helps and Heals” in our Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible. We’ll discuss Jesus’ healing ministry, why Jesus asked that his miracle not be shared with others, and how Jesus’ healing ministry compares to the healing doctors do today. We’ll pray, sing, and say goodbye with a blessing.
As always, these children provide insight and fresh questions and perspectives on these scriptures. It is such a joy serve them and the wider Park Avenue Community.
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 Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for our Own, by Eddie Glaude, Jr. 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, and what God requires of us. We would love to have you join us and share your perspective, experience, hopes, and concerns.
For more information, please contact either RIchard Sturm or Stephanie Wilson at the church.
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.