***This newsletter was written before the death of George Floyd and the continued injustices, murder, and anti-black violence faced by our black siblings this week. This newsletter is lighter than the feelings of this community right now. Please know that we see you and are grieving with you. The Park is and always will be a people of action. We will fight white supremacy and systemic oppression. We will lift up, listen, and center black and brown voices. We will never excuse racism or allow accountability to be too hard. Your pastors are here to listen and pray with you as you need. But we are a more than “thoughts and prayers” church- because we follow Jesus. – Rev. Stephanie
Inspire Community: Pentecost
Happy Birthday! Now you may say, isn’t The Park’s birthday in October? (It is!) Or you may think, “but it’s not my birthday,” (unless it is, then Happy Birthday!). But this “Happy Birthday” is directed at every one of you because it is the Church’s birthday. The whole universal Church. The “Big C” church! This week is Pentecost, the day in which we celebrate the people of creation being blessed by the Holy Spirit to get out there and share the good news of Jesus the Christ. So that is just what we are going to do! This week we are sharing the good news of Christ Jesus in worship (10:30 kids, 11am Everyone), YASS Happy Hour on Thursday, Caring and loving for our community during social distancing, and a new Inspire curriculum will come out on Monday. So much to do and see and be- we are so grateful for you in God’s beloved community.
This week is one of those weeks where the scripture is a bit longer than we normally offer. And while each word of scripture is rich in depth and meaning, sometimes you have to take a step back and look at the big picture as well as each of its parts. So, this week I invite you into the reading for Pentecost and instead of offering my own insight, I hope you will take a few minutes to think of these questions- listed below- as you read, and then talk to your friends or journal or pray about your answers. This scripture from the book of acts is an invitation and a call to each of us. But that call and invitation is unique to each of us, and we must honor that with honest reflection.
Question 1: What signs does God use to talk to you?
Question 2: How do each one of your communities contribute to the “Divinity of Diversity” as we say at The Park and as exemplified in this scripture?
Question 3: What are the ways in which you honor and experience other people’s traditions while sharing your own- so that you both grow?
Read now these words from the book of Acts, chapter 2, verses 1-21 from the Inclusive Language Bible.
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they all met in one room. Suddenly they heard what sounded like a violent, rushing wind from heaven; the noise filled the entire house in which they were sitting. Something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each one. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as she enabled them.
Now there were devout people living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled. But they were bewildered to hear their native languages being spoken. They were amazed and astonished: “Surely all of these people speaking are Galileans! How does it happen that each of us hears these words in our native tongue? We are Parthians, Medes and Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya around Cyrene, as well as visitors from Rome—all Jews, or converts to Judaism—Cretans and Arabs, too; we hear them preaching, each in our own language, about the marvels of God!”
All were amazed and disturbed. They asked each other, “What does this mean?” But others said mockingly, “They’ve drunk too much new wine.”
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd: “People of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem! Listen to what I have to say! These people are not drunk as you think—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning!
No, it’s what Joel the prophet spoke of:
‘In the days to come—
it is our God who speaks—
I will pour out my Spirit
on all humankind.
Your children will prophesy,
your young people will see visions,
and your elders will dream dreams.
Even on the most insignificant of my people,
both women and men,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
And I will display wonders
in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below:
blood, fire and billowing smoke.
The sun will be turned into darkness
and the moon will become blood
before the coming of the
great and sublime day of our God.
And all who call upon the name
of our God will be saved.”
(Acts 2:1-21 [ILB])
As with good readings, I hope you have more questions than answers. I hope you are inspired to look for God at work in every community and to share your experiences and learn about the experiences of others so that the divinity of diversity is strengthened and renewed again and again. Happy Birthday, church. This year we got you more new voices, people, and experiences to do your good work with and through.
A quick prayer for your week: Happy Birthday to God’s church, I am committed to loving and growing with your community. Amen
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from The Rev. Francesca Fortunato
Dear Park People,
On Sunday, May 24th, the Park Sunday school children assembled, online, using our new screen sharing platform, Blue Jeans. It seems to work similarly to Zoom, but with better security. Good!
During our social/check-in time, one child remarked that online Sunday school is one of the few occasions where we see people who aren’t members of our families, without masks. New normal, and a blessing noted. I do keep learning from the children!
We continued to read about the prophet, Nehemiah, in The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible. I was pleased to discover that one parent had ordered the same bible (that I have at home) for their child, which meant that we were able to have a child read aloud, for the first time since we went entirely online. It was nice to hear the scripture in a different voice.
In this section of the book of Nehemiah, chapters 3 and 4, Nehemiah leads the people of Jerusalem, in the work of rebuilding their city’s wall, while under threat from enemies who want them to fail. In order to make sure that they can complete the work, the people of Jerusalem take turns being active workers, and watchers, standing guard to keep the workers safe. We discussed the difficulty of that “watching and waiting “ part of the work, which was just as important, for the well being of the city, as the active part. So. Obvious segue. Most of us - especially children - are in watch-and-wait mode now. And, for us, as for the people of ancient Jerusalem, it is both difficult, and very important.
In response to this theme, the children wrote a collaborative prayer called "A Prayer For Waiting." We are doing a lot of collaborative writing, these days, because it’s an activity that can be done together in real time, online. The children’s words are beautiful and profound, and, it occurs to me, might be inspiring to others beyond our little community. So, a possible project for the future, could be to publish a book of children’s prayers, poems and stories, written individually and collaboratively, during this unprecedented time. Just planting the seed of that idea, in this moment.
Blessings and well wishes as always,
Rev. Francesca Maria (Miriam) Fortunato: Children’s Minister
Pandemic of Love
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.
Classes are in English now but we are working on adding a Spanish speaking class soon.
Become a Telechaplaincy Volunteer
From the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education:
We are facing unprecedented times, and many of us are wondering how we can respond. We are receiving requests from institutions seeking additional spiritual care support, particularly through telechaplaincy. At the same time, we know some CPE students have been unable to complete units due to new restrictions for visitation. We hope telechaplaincy might provide them additional hours towards the completion of units.
We are seeking volunteers to meet these requests. If you would like to be considered for telechaplaincy support, please complete the volunteer form below. Your information will only be shared with institutional leadership working to meet the needs of those whom they serve. If you have questions or need more information, please email COVID19@acpe.edu.
You may also want to explore resources for spiritual care during this crisis, available here from our colleagues at the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab. Thank you for your dedication to our shared work.