I hope this week has opened up new spaces of courage for you. Courage to show up authentically. Courage to honor yourself and your community. The courage to trust in God for all things great and small. The work of courage is challenging and faithful but all things are possible with God. This week we hope to see you in worship and make sure to mark your calendar for our Congregational Review on Nov 22 and the Congregational Meeting on Nov 29. Both will be online with more information to come as the time gets closer. But for now, I hope that your week is one that holds you tenderly and offers you space to rest, dream and find joy with God.
With all that is happening in the world at the moment, normally big news events are getting lost in the shuffle. This is why I am so grateful for my many communities that keep me connected to events outside of our context. Since August, Colorado has been combating the largest fire in state history. It is changing the landscape, the air, the sky, and the way of life for people in Colorado - it is consuming everything and leaving destruction and despair. I have been praying for the people affected by this fire and I hope you will join me as well.
A lot is said about the relationship between natural disasters and God. But this week’s passage is one that I find to be particularly relevant for these circumstances. This week’s passage is the story of Moses and the burning bush. It reminds us that God can and will use anything and everything to be in community and conversation with us, but it also reminds us that not everything is God speaking. Let’s read together from the book of Exodus.
1 Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock deep into the wilderness, Moses came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
2 The messenger of God appeared to Moses in a blazing fire from the midst of a thornbush. Moses saw—“The bush is ablaze with fire, and yet it isn’t consumed!” 3 Moses said, “Let me go over and look at this remarkable sight—and see why the bush doesn’t burn up!”
4 When God saw Moses coming to look more closely, God called out to him from the midst of the bush: “Moses! Moses!”
Moses answered, “I am here.”
5 God said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground!
6 “I am the God of your ancestors,” the voice continued, “the God of Sarah and Abraham, the God of Rebecca and Isaac, the God of Leah and Rachel and Jacob!”
Moses hid his face, afraid to look at the Holy One.
7 Then God said, “I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt; I have heard their cries under those who oppress them; I have felt their sufferings. 8 Now I have come down to rescue them from the hand of Egypt, out of their place of suffering, and bring them to a place that is wide and fertile, a land flowing with milk and honey —the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 The cry of the children of Israel has reached me, and I have watched how the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 Now, go! I will send you to Pharaoh, to bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:1-10 / Éxodo 3:1-10)
God is using fire in this story to talk to Moses, but that is not the miracle. The miracle is that the bush is not consumed and destroyed by the fire. This distinction is important because it reminds us that sometimes fire does consume and destroy as is the case with what is happening in Colorado. And in those cases, we need to put all of our time and energy toward extinguishing it. But as the scripture says our God is one that liberates and does something new. So, the fires that do not consume to destroy but consume to encourage are the fires of God. Those fires right now often look like passion, excitement, grief, love, rage, hope, and anger. And like the fires that consume for destruction they cannot be ignored.
Friends, what fires are lit that are consuming and seeking to destroy parts of you and what is ablaze with the fire of the holy spirit in you for the good works of God? Let that fire speak to you, show you what God is doing in this world, and let it light your path for what comes next. For we know our God is always doing something new, we just need not to overlook it or get consumed by distractions.
A quick prayer for your week: O Lord, Extinguish the destructive fires of Colorado and elsewhere, and ignite in me the fire and passion for justice. Amen
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from The Rev. Francesca Fortunato
Dear Park People,
On Sunday October 18th, the Park Sunday school children read the Exodus story of the Ten Plagues, and used their Play-Doh to create items (mostly animals) that appeared in the story. We talked about the cruelty of Pharoah’s treatment of the enslaved Israelites, and the determination of Moses, as he worked to free his people. The children agreed that it’s important to never give up trying to make things better, when people with power are being unfair or unkind.
On Sunday October 25th, we will step a couple of chapters back, in the Exodus story, reading about Moses and the burning bush. The children will be invited to imagine what that burning bush might have looked like, and draw pictures showing the way they think looked. Our discussion focus will be about the ways that our faith in God can give us courage, when we need to do hard things.
In addition to discussion of the biblical messages, the Park Sunday school children continue to simply enjoy each other’s company, during our Sunday morning time together, and I am very glad to witness their ongoing friendship and mutual support, even as we stay apart, physically. I remain intentional about making time, during Sunday school, for just catching up with each other, and fostering the social aspect of Christian community, as best I can. My hope and prayer for the entire Park Church community - adults as well as children - is that we can keep up that sustaining connection, during this unprecedented; extremely challenging time.
Blessings and well wishes as always,
Rev. Francesca Fortunato: Children’s Minister
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.