“Bloom with Vision: What is Needed” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

February 25th,2021 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

I hope this week you have started to see the path that God has put before you this Lenten season. Blooming with Vision means that with God you take in the wisdom of those who have come before you and the experiences that led you to now, to cast vision and guide your steps towards the world to come. When we cast vision with God, we give God the permission we need to let go of in order to bring a new way of being- one that is unexpected. Blooming with Vision prepares us for God in ways that are unfamiliar. It does not act as permission for the Kindom to come to us, rather for us to let go of our expectations of what God can and will do. In other words, God’s going to do what God’s going to do, so let’s prepare ourselves to help. A way in which we prepare ourselves is worship, which we hope you will join us for this Sunday at 11am. Another way we prepare ourselves is through prayer, so we hope you will take this opportunity to join us for Bloom in Prayer after worship on Sunday. This is a wonderful opportunity to pray one on one with one of our beloved Deacons.

Y’all, I believe all of scripture is imbued with the Spirit of God which allows it to continuously speak to us anew, but there are some texts that lay it out a little more clearly than others. Those texts are what I call the “how” scriptures. In my opinion, the “what” of our faith is most clearly shown in the holy week texts, but the “how” can sometime be a little more elusive because they come to us in the form of allegory or prose. But this week is a “how” scripture that in no uncertain terms tells us what to do. I have found that in seasons of chaos like grief, storms, and viruses a plain message is not only helpful but needed.

Our scripture this week comes from the book of Mark. Of the four Gospels, Mark is considered by most biblical scholars to be the first Gospel written. Mark is direct and forward in its teachings, which is perfect for this time in our lives. It is meant to get your attention and inspire You to action. Let’s read together this “how” passage from Mark.

Then Jesus began to teach them that the Promised One had to suffer much, be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and religious scholars, be put to death, and rise again three days later. Jesus said these things quite openly.

Peter then took him aside and began to take issue with him. At this, Jesus turned around and, eyeing the disciples, reprimanded Peter: “Get out of my sight, you Satan! You are judging by human standards rather than by God’s!”

Jesus summoned the crowd and the disciples and said, “If you wish to come after me, you must deny your very self, take up your cross and follow in my footsteps. If you would save your life, you’ll lose it, but if you lose your life for my sake, you’ll save it. What would you gain if you were to win the whole world but lose yourself in the process? What can you offer in exchange for your soul? Whoever in this faithless and corrupt generation is ashamed of me and my words will find, in turn, that the Promised One and the holy angels will be ashamed of that person, when all stand before our God in glory.”

[Mark 8:31-38 (ILB) / Marcos 8:31-38 (NVI)]

Making sure the Disciples heard (that means You!) Jesus tells you to take up your cross and follow Jesus, but to not lose yourself in the process. This text is written for You- yes, You! It is a reminder that the work of Kindom building is a journey best done in community but dependent on the unique gifts of each of us. Being You with God is the “how” of the Gospel. Only You know your cross (your entry point into justice seeking work). Only You know who you are called to be. Only You know your best self and the needs to keep you healthy and whole. God is reminding us that each of us are needed for the work of the Kindom and that the only requirement is Your participation. You are what is needed and necessary to do the work of God here on earth.

Friends, you were created to be You. Everything that makes You- gender, passion, ability, experience, sexuality, health, race, joy, fear, etc.- is made in the holy image of God or Imago Dei and is made to serve the Kindom (this is why I am capitalizing You!). Only you know what your cross is and only you know when you are losing Yourself in the process. So, take a moment to check in with Yourself. Find a mirror and talk to Yourself- talk to God. Are you being your best You? What do you need to let Her shine? To let Him be heard? To allow Them the space to thrive? Do not lose Yourself in the process, but do not let the process stop you from picking up your cross to follow Jesus. The call is clear. The path is before us. All that is needed is You.

Shalom Y’all,

Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: O Lord, I will pick up my cross and follow you. Amen