“Bloom with Vision: Good Gear” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

February 4th,2021 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

I hope that you have found yourself safe and warm this past week. So much is happening and there is much to be thankful for as we continue to hold in prayer the many spaces of hope and grief that have accompanied us this past year. Please do continue to hold each other in prayer and if a specific prayer is needed, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the pastoral staff or join our Deacons for Bloom with Prayer on the 4th Sunday of the month. Also, if you haven’t looked over the Bloom curriculum for February please be sure to do so, there are several ways to continue community engagement this month, include getting a “Bloom Bag” for Ash Wednesday. If you have any questions, please let me know when we are together on Sunday for another chance to Bloom Together in worship.

This week, New York got hit with a snowstorm that kept most of us inside for two days. I did not grow up having snow in winter so it’s still a little bit magical for me. I love to look out my window and watch the snow accumulate. I even made a time lapse video that you can see on our social media feeds. I love the snow – now- but my first winter here I was less enthusiastic. I felt unprepared and a bit overwhelmed at the unknown. For example, I have always been able to wear flipflops year-round. And of course, I knew that NY winters were snowy and cold and that flip-flops weren’t appropriate – but that didn’t tell me what I was supposed to wear. What would keep me warm.  We spend so much time in what isn’t that we sometimes forget what is!  That is where we find ourselves in Isaiah this week. There is something magical about this book that lifts my spirits, makes me curious, and beckons me into new relationship with God. It calls on us to reflect on what we don’t know, and the expansiveness of what God is and what God can do. Read these words from Isaiah:

Did you not know?
Have you not heard?
Was it not told to you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
God sits above the vaulted roof of the world,
and its inhabitants look like grasshoppers!
God stretches out the skies like a curtain,
and spreads them out like a tent for mortals to live under!
God reduces the privileged to nothing
and throws the rulers of the earth into chaos.
No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root on earth,
than God blows on them and they wither,
and a storm wind sweeps them away like chaff.
“To whom can you liken me?
Who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes and ask yourself
who made these stars,
if not the One who drills them like an army,
calling each by name?
Because God is so great in strength,
so mighty in power,
not a single one is missing.
How can you say,
tribe of Leah and Rachel and Jacob,
“My destiny is hidden from God,
my rights are ignored by my God?”
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
God is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
This God does not faint or grow weary;
with a depth of understanding that is unsearchable.
God give strength to the weary,
and empowers the powerless.
Young women may grow tired and weary,
young men may stumble and fall,
but those who wait for God
find a renewed power:
they soar on eagles’ wings,
they run and don’t get weary,
they walk and never tire.
[Isaiah 40:21-31 (ILB)/ Isaías 40:21-31 (NVI)

This week I was in a gathering of New York clergy and by chance, 5 of us are originally from California. Specifically we are all from parts where it doesn’t snow, so, we collectively commiserated about the cold. But one colleague offered his new perspective about the cold weather. He said, “I’ve come to understand that there is no bad weather only bad gear.” I find that reframing so helpful right now. The “bad weather” of winter is only bad if we aren’t prepared. After all the snow is a vital part of our environment. It keeps the plants nourished (and in turn humanity nourished) long after the winter seasons. But it can be harsh and unpleasant, especially when we are not prepared. This week’s scripture to me is like a warm coat in a blizzard. It reminds me that church, my relationship with Jesus, and our collective work with God in this world is like owning the right gear for the season. A relationship with God, and an understanding that God is faithful in all seasons of life is the good gear we need in this world. And as we bundle up to go outside let us give thanks for good gear.

Shalom Yall,

Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: O Lord, Bring us knowledge and wisdom for the things we do not know, and good gear to face the things we do. Amen