“Bloom in New Beginnings: Joy Is …” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

December 9th,2021 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter
Beloved Friends,

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?

Shalom Y’all,
Rev. Stephanie

Simple Prayer: O Holy God, may we be your joy. Amen.