“Bloom with Passion: Endurance” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

April 29th,2021 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

I hope that you are all having a week filled with joy and hope. As I keep seeing the pics of people getting their vaccines, I long for the time that we can be together and am filled with renewed hope that we will one day be able to make that happen. Keep it up, friends. Your care for each other through this vaccination, is a joy to behold. This week we are in the 5th Sunday of Easter and God continues to resurrect life anew in our midst. New life is everywhere in this season. The plants are budding, the birds are hatching, and God is doing something new in you as well. We hope that you will share all that God is doing in your life with our many ministry gatherings this month, starting with Bible Study and Worship this Sunday! We also have new Bloom curriculum coming on Saturday, so keep an eye out for it and all the opportunities to gather and connect.

This past week, I was on a continuing education week. Your pastors engage in what is called “continuing education” various times throughout the year. Continuing education is not vacation. Continuing education is a time to engage in prayer, study, and learning opportunities that help enrich and deepen our understanding of God’s love and work in the world and in our community. One of my practices when I go away for continuing ed is that I take a list of every person who is a member of our church and I pray for you all- individually and by name. I also took this week’s scripture with me because it calls us to love one another, to call each other friends, and to think about all the ways our lives are intertwined with each other and with God.

Let’s read together this passage from the Gospel of John.

9 As my Abba has loved me,
so have I loved you. Live on in my love.
10 And you will live on in my love
if you keep my commandments,
just as I live on in Abba God’s love
and have kept God’s commandments.
11 I tell you all this that my joy may be yours,
and your joy may be complete.
12 This is my commandment:
love one another as I have loved you.
13 There is no greater love
than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
14 And you are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
15 I no longer speak of you as subordinates,
because a subordinate doesn’t know a superior’s business.
Instead, I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learned from Abba God.
16 It was not you who chose me;
it was I who chose you
to go forth and bear fruit.
Your fruit must endure,
so that whatever you ask of Abba God in my name
God will give you.
17 This command I give you:
that you love one another.

[John 15:9-17 (ILB)/ Juan 15:9-17 (NVI)]

So, friends, whether love for another comes easy or not, remember that you are part of a love that endures and calls you to the larger body in the time, way, and place that is right for you. And regardless of what path we take it’s all a part of what makes a waterfall magical- we are all a part of the overwhelming and enduring awe of God.

We tend to think of waterfalls as the big dump of water going off a cliff into a vast pool. And sometimes our love for others happens like that. Bold, easy, and abundant. But if you take a closer look, some of the same water from the waterfall takes a different and much slower path. Drop by drop it makes its way down from the top, onto the side of cliff, through the rocks, over the tree, and any other obstacle in its path, sometimes pooling along the way, not making it into the larger body of water until much later. And sometimes our love for others happens like that. It’s challenging, intentional, and sometimes seems imperceivable.  But the thing is- it’s all water – it’s all love. God calls us to love one another, and we know how to do that because Jesus loves us. But just because the path of your love may look different than someone else’s, doesn’t mean that God is any less a part of it. It is all part of the same larger body of water that moves, renews, and endures.

The enduring commandment to love one another is one I think about often. God’s love for us is so gracious and abundant for us, but I sometimes find it challenging to always operate with that same abundance. Does that resonate for you too? This past week, I took a hike to a waterfall and read this scripture several times and the two together taught me something about this call to love that I want to share with you.

Shalom Y’all,

Rev. Stephanie

Simple Prayer: O Lord, Overwhelm us with your abundant grace and love. Amen.