“Bloom with Grace: Words and Works” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

January 21st,2021 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

Happy Thursday! I hope this week has offered new spaces of hope and joy but above all, I hope you are safe, well, and cared for. I know the newness of leadership does not erase the pain and hurt we continue to experience as people and a nation, so please know your pastors and church are here for you. This week we have a new ministry that I want you to be aware of – Bloom with Prayer. Bloom with Prayer is a part of our monthly Bloom curriculum and it seeks to deepen and broaden your prayer life during this time of necessary separation. Bloom with Prayer will function as a prayer station of sorts. After worship on Sunday, hop on over to the Bloom with Prayer link and get some one-on-one prayer time with the Deacons. If you would like to participate in this ministry, please email Stephanie Wilson for the link. And as always, we hope to see you Sunday for worship.

This week’s scripture comes from the book of Jonah. Now most of us know at least a vague version of Jonah’s story – God’s call, Jonah runs away, a big fish, Nineveh saved. It’s a great story if you haven’t read it or haven’t read it in a while. But as I read it again this week, I really resonated with what it means to wrestle with being called to speak up. We think that what we say has so much to do with our words- and it does- but we also speak with our works. And when our words and works match the call that God has placed on each of us – we preach. So I hope you will look for the works and words – the preaching – in this week’s message from Jonah.

We are called to learn from scripture so that we might see God at work more clearly in the world, through the words and works of our neighbors, and hopefully our neighbors see God in us. And so, we heed the call to preach. Wherever we are and with the words and works we have in us. Preaching is a conversation with God and community and where I experienced that this week was from a young woman poet, Amanda Gorman, whom I had heard speak in the past but her words from the inauguration preached to me, spoke to me, live in me now anew. So, I wanted to share a part of her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” in hopes that it continues to preach to you too.

… And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves…

Friends, I am grateful for the words and works – the preaching – that each of you do in this world. May this this pulpit of your life offer you support, encouragement, and a rootedness in God and community so that it may continue.

Shalom Yall,

Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: O Lord, I will preach of your love in words and works. Amen