I’ve been resting in the peace of wild things this week following our Bloom in Conversation event Monday evening. The fellowship and spiritual depths shared there were beautiful, and I was reminded once more how distinctly grateful I am for this community. I look forward to the time spent together over this next year, beginning with this Sunday.
Our scripture for this week comes to us from the Book of John. John’s gospel gives us the most theology of all the gospels and contains a few stories of Jesus which are unique to itself. This scripture occurs the day after Jesus has fed the 5,000 and walked on water. We begin with Jesus teaching publicly in the Synagogue of Capernaum after crossing the Sea of Galilee. Let us listen to this word of life from the Gospel of John:
56 Everyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me, and I live in them. 57 Just as the living Abba God sent me
and I have life because of Abba God,
so those who feed on me
will have life because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven.
It’s not the kind of bread your ancestors ate,
for they died.
whoever eats this kind of bread
will live forever.” 59 Jesus spoke these words while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 60 Many of his disciples remarked, “We can’t put up with this kind of talk! How can anyone take it seriously?” 61 Jesus was fully aware that the disciples were murmuring in protest at what he had said. “Is this a stumbling block for you?” he asked them. 62 “What, then, if you were to see the Chosen One
ascend to where the Chosen One came from? 63 It is the spirit that gives life;
the flesh in itself is useless.
The words I have spoken to you
are spirit and life. 64 Yet among you there are some
who don’t believe.”
Jesus knew from the start, of course, those who would refuse to believe and the one who would betray him. 65 He went on to say:
“This is why I have told you
that no one can come to me
unless it is granted by Abba God.” 66 From this time on, many of the disciples broke away and wouldn’t remain in the company of Jesus. 67 Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Are you going to leave me, too?” 68 Simon Peter answered, “Rabbi, where would we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe; we’re convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
[John 6: 56-69 (ILB)/ Juan 6:56-69 (NVI)]
Jesus says, “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh in itself is useless. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” The words of eternal life are here. We have come to believe them.
This scripture is profound in the ways it informs our practice of communion, in the bold statements Jesus makes about himself, and in the decisions of some students to leave because Jesus’ teachings seemed absurd. I have found myself resting in Jesus’ proclamation: it is the spirit that gives life; the flesh in itself is useless.
As a dancer, I have learned to love my body, this fleshy meat sack that I call home. It was not always this way. For years, my relationship to my body was tumultuous as I struggled to reconcile my use of my body as a tool and the statements of some of my teachers that my body was too large for me to ever be a real dancer. At long last, I achieved a kind of body neutrality with an acceptance of my body as it was that blossomed into a love as I grew to appreciate my body for the things it can do. I love my body, my flesh, yet here Jesus tells us that it is useless.
My body is useless without the spirit in me - the spirit that propels me to jump for joy and twirl with delight, the spirit that holds my gladness when I giggle and comforts me when I cry, the spirit which Jesus carried as he spoke these words. What my body looks like and what abilities it has do not matter because God does not judge me by my fleshiness but by the spirit’s work in me.
I do not need to love my body, because God loves me, and God’s spirit is alive in me. We are embodied people who must attend to our bodies because they are where life is housed, but they are not the sustainer; God is. Through the Spirit, God gives each breath, and through God’s word, God teaches us the way to eternal life.
Thank God we are here – for where else would we go?
Yours by God's Grace,
Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian
We will take a break from weekly meetings for Children’s Worship this August, but we will have a small bit of programming in our weekly Children’s Worship Newsletter. This programming will always align itself with our scripture for the week, and I encourage you to engage with it for yourself or alongside whatever children might be in your life.
After reading this week’s scripture (John 6:56-69), discuss the following questions:
1. What does this scripture make you think of? Do any people or places come to mind?
2. What questions do you have about the words we read?
3. Does any part of this passage stand out to you?
4. What does Jesus’ discussion of bread remind you of? Are there bible stories or things we do at church that come to mind?
5. What do you think it means to have eternal life?
6. The spirit gives life - How can you let the Holy Spirit lead you towards eternal life this week?
I’m hopeful for these conversations! I look forward to hearing from you and wish you all meaningful conversations about the bread of life and the Holy Spirit.
(The illustration above is from Page 48 of Tiny Truths Wonder & Wisdom)
The Park supports activists and entrepreneurs like the DAYE movement in which our own, Kent Edwards, is a part.
This Ride to DC (Ride to Diversify Cycling) ends in Washington DC for the Commitment March commemorating the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr delivered his powerful "I Have A Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
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.