I hope that this week has kept you warm and anticipating all that is yet to come. I have been enjoying the #OurNewHope Justice Advent Calendar each day which has brought new prayers and relationships to my Advent journey. Have you been following them? How have you been using your Bloom in Advent kit to prepare for this season of new beginnings? Let us know and tag us in posts as you continue to journey with God and season in this community. We know that this time of year tends to pull us in all sorts of new directions, but we hope you know that you can always find your center here at The Park. Reach out to your pastors if you feel yourself needing extra support this week. We hope to see you at bible study and worship this Sunday and that you have marked your calendar for our 11pm Christmas Eve Service.
This week we head into the week of Joy. It can be a little hard during years of pain and loss to lean into joy, but as Austin Channing Brown reminds us, “Joy is an act of resistance.” Joy is a holy act that is not superficial or rooted in material things. Joy comes from deep within each of us when we live authentically as ourselves and lean into the passions of our lives. Those passions can be relationships, hobbies, or creativity. Passion can be anything if it brings you closer to God. And some of our passions are yet to be revealed, just as we are told in our scripture today. This week we are yet again in Year W by The Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney and we are reading 1 John 3:1-3. See if you see spaces where joy and passion might flourish even as we are faced with uncertainty in the anticipatory process of waiting for Jesus.
See what kind of love has our Maker given to us, that we should be called children of God; and we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know God. Beloved, now are we God's children and it has not yet been revealed what we will be. We do know that when God is revealed, we shall be like God, for we shall see God just as God is. And everyone who has this hope in God purifies themselves, just as God is pure.
1 John 3:1-3 (Year W)
What part of this passage are you most drawn to? Is there a word that really sticks out? What are some things that you are passionate about and find joy in, and where do you see them in this scripture? As many of you know, I am passionate about a lot of things; birthing people’s reproductive rights, Anti-racism, my cats, women’s soccer, and this community to name a few. And the word that sticks out to me is revealed. I find joy in anticipating what is yet to come – or as scripture says, what God is revealing to us or about us in this world.
For example, I get positively giddy thinking about all the possibilities for our community when we get the new building, and I truly can’t wait to see who wins the NWSL Challenge cup this year. Joy for me, comes in the justice work we do together in beloved community to combat systemic racism, or when we share the ways scripture liberates oppressive structures and theologies. Joy is Resistance. Joy is Revolutionary. Joy is truth in our Redeemer making a new way in each of us to reveal what and who we each will be.
Friends, where are you seeing and living into your joy this week? What do you need to remember that you – just being you – are a true and full manifestation of God’s joy? Finally, where do your passions and joy meet? So many questions and yet we never expect a complete answer -and isn’t that the joy of faith?
Simple Prayer: O Holy God, may we be your joy. Amen.
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from Nordia Bennett, Children’s Minister
This past Sunday, the children and I had a chance to connect and dive deep into the text of Luke 1:39-45, and talk about the wonders of friendships using the encounter of Mary and Elizabeth to provide a roadmap to witnessing the abundance in building transparent communities. In addition, the 10:30 AM younger group spent some time in Tiny Truths: Wonder & Wisdom, Proverbs 13:20 "Friendship". Students were able to share who their friends are, the qualities they love about them, the significance of having friends they can look to for support, and how they want to be treated with friends. At 10 AM, the older group discussed the importance of respect, boundaries, and support. At 10:30 AM, the younger group shared they want friendships that are full of laughter, fun, and respect.
In addition, I gave students a small task of offering to share with one or two friends what is one thing they love about their friend(s). Some of the students shared they already share with their friends, but I encouraged them to make it a little extra special by writing a note, if possible.
This Sunday, our older and younger students will meet at 10 am (4th grade or older) for fellowship to read 1 John 3:1-13. We’ll discuss leadership qualities we believe are essential to showing up in the world as justice seekers within the body of Christ. 10:30am (3rd grade or younger) will be exploring “Jesus Helps and Heals” in The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible.
Join the Coalition for the Homeless as we spread holiday cheer to homeless children through our annual Holiday Toy Drive!
Nearly 15,000 children in New York City will spend this holiday season in homeless shelters. By purchasing a toy through our Amazon Wishlist, you can make sure these kids get to experience the magic and warmth of the holidays!
To avoid possible spread of the virus, the Coalition is not able to accept drop-off donations this year.
Here's how you can help: • Buy a toy from our Amazon Wish List. Idea: Get the family involved and have your child pick out their favorite toy to give to a homeless kid!
Invitation to the Ecclesiastical Council of Meghan Janssen
Saturday, December 11, 2021 11:00 am ET
An Ecclesiastical Council is a gathering of people called to examine, authorize, and approve the Ordination of a Member in Discernment within the United Church of Christ. Meghan has been a Member in Discernment with the Metropolitan Association since February 2019. She is an active member and integral part of The Park community and we hope you will consider attending this online gathering to offer our loving support to Meghan, to bear witness to the call of ordained ministry we see in her, and to celebrate all that she and God are doing together. Please email Meghan for more details.
Co-hosted by Rev. Stephanie Kendell and Rev. Arthur Stewart
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.