I hope you had a wonderful Resurrection Sunday and feel the new work that God is doing in you, our community, and our world. God continues to bear fruit with the work we do in community so be sure to join us for all of our ministry gatherings like Yass, Soulfood Fellowship, and our many Bloom gatherings. This week our seminarian Kelsey Creech will be preaching and bringing the good news of Christ to our community, we look forward to seeing you Sunday!
This week we are continuing in the book of John with a story many of us know, but it is not one that we often spend a lot of time with. It’s the story that most of us know through the character of Thomas, or “Doubting Thomas” as he is often referred to. I have a complicated relationship with this text. On the one hand, I love this text because I think we underestimate the role that doubt plays in our faith development. This text reminds us that God can handle our doubt and that even people that personally knew Jesus had doubt in their faith. God was and is abundantly gracious and loving with those who doubt in their faith and I love that.
Now, on the other hand, disbelief in others' experiences because they differ from our own, is a problem that we see play out all too often in our world. As a woman in this world, my experiences, my body, my call to ministry have all been met with doubt because they differ from the lived experiences of those in power or the understood social norm. We shouldn’t have to open another person’s wound to believe them. O Scripture, you complicated gift!
Now, that is just my experience with this text. Maybe it resonates with you, maybe you have a completely different take, or maybe this is the first time you are reading this passage. But the great thing about scripture is that it allows the Spirit to move you-and the Spirit never leaves you where you started. So, I invite you into this reading and I hope that the Spirit of the living and still speaking God moves within you and brings you to a new place in your faith and relationship with God.
19 In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were locked in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Temple authorities.
Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 Having said this, the savior showed them the marks of crucifixion.
The disciples were filled with joy when they saw Jesus, 21 who said to them again, “Peace be with you. As Abba God sent me, so I’m sending you.”
22 After saying this, Jesus breathed on them and said,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven.
If you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.”
24 It happened that one of the Twelve, Thomas—nicknamed Didymus, or “Twin”—was absent when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples kept telling him, “We’ve seen Jesus!”
Thomas’ answer was, “I’ll never believe it without putting my finger in the nail marks and my hand into the spear wound.”
26 On the eighth day, the disciples were once more in the room, and this time Thomas was with them. Despite the locked doors, Jesus came and stood before them, saying, “Peace be with you.”
27 Then, to Thomas, Jesus said, “Take your finger and examine my hands. Put your hand into my side. Don’t persist in your unbelief,
28 Thomas said in response, “My Savior and my God!”
29 Jesus then said,
“You’ve become a believer
because you saw me.
Blessed are those who have not seen
and yet have believed.”
30 Jesus performed many other signs as well—signs not recorded here—in the presence of the disciples. 31 But these have been recorded to help you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Only Begotten, so that by believing you may have life in Jesus’ Name.
[John 20:19-31 (ILB) / Juan 20:19-31 (NVI)]
Friends, I keep reading this passage over and over, and it keeps speaking to me in new ways. Is this happening for you too? I’m going to take this as a sign to sit with this text this week in my prayer life. Our scripture says that there were many more unrecorded signs of Jesus at work in the world, signs showed to the Disciples- of which we all are! So, today let us be on the lookout for the work God is doing, the signs that God is sending us, and may they continue to provide strength to our faith and witness in Christ Jesus and this beloved community.
Simple Prayer: O Lord, help me see your signs. Amen.
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian
Last week, our children read the Easter story as we celebrated our Risen God!
At 10 AM, our older students met to read John 20:1-18. We talked about the thoughts of Mary who found the empty tomb and Peter and the other disciple as they raced to see it for themselves. We talked about the importance of the empty tomb and risen Jesus for our faith and went back and read the end of John 19 to see the ways people checked to see that Jesus was really dead. We shared in the joy of Easter Morning and the news that Jesus is alive!
At 10:30 AM, our younger children read “Jesus Comes Back” in our Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible. We wondered at how it would have felt to find the empty tomb and thought about whether or not we would have believed the news that Jesus had risen from the dead! We celebrated Easter Morning by sharing our families’ Easter traditions with one another, then we prayed, sang, and said goodbye with a blessing.
This week, our older students will read the story of Doubting Thomas in John 20:19-30, and one of our younger children is bringing a story to read us all! We’re looking forward to another week celebrating the Easter Season!
I remain so grateful for the opportunity to serve this community and thank each of you for making The Park feel like home for me.
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 Juan Gonzalez’sHarvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America. 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, colonialism, and 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.