“Children are the Present” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

September 20th,2018 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

Happy Homecoming week! Friends, I don’t know about you, but this has been a wonderful week. Last Sunday’s service was filled with friends, both new and old. And we are so happy that Pastor Kaji is back! I hope you saw both of her interviews (Good Morning America and Inside Edition). They were incredible and really shows that the ethics of justice that she preaches, is also how she lives her life. I know I am so grateful for her leadership that inspire and sustain the many ministries here at The Park. Speaking on ministries, this week is HOMECOMING! Join us for our 11am worship and then a party at The Manse where you can have lunch, mingle, and gain a deeper understanding of our many ministries. Everyone is invited!

Last week was the Northeastern Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Regional Assembly. People from Disciples’ Congregations gathered in Brooklyn to worship together and to go over business of the region. It was wonderful to see the inter-generational ministries come together and talk about what can be accomplished together. Intergenerational work can be really challenging. So much of what a person is thought to bring to the table of conversation is formed from their life experiences, so by the fact that some people have less life experience than others, in regard to sheer minutes on this planet, they can often be looked at as not fully valuable.  So, it was only fitting for the spirit to bring this scripture into our lives this week, to remind us that the work of the kindom knows no age. Let’s read together this passage from Mark 9.

33 They returned home to Capernaum. Once they were inside the house, Jesus began to ask them, “What were you discussing on the way home?” 34 At this they fell silent, for on the way they had been arguing about who among them was the most important. 35 So Jesus sat down and called the Twelve over and said, “If any of you wants to be first, you must be the last one of all and at the service of all.”
36 Then Jesus brought a little child into their midst and, putting his arm around the child, said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes a child such as this for my sake welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the One who sent me.”

Jesus was always quick to engage the marginalized as a core part of his ministry. But, young age is not often seen as a qualifying category. However, how many times have you asked a middle schooler, baptized into the body of Christ, what they want from a church right now? For most people, the answer is not often. And so, what if we did? Are we willing to take their request seriously? At Regional Assembly we had the incredible honor to hear the Disciples GMP Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens preach about being called to be together. And throughout our time together, she constantly reminded us to break our understanding that the children are our future, and start living into the fact that they are a part of our present. Children are valued in the eyes of Jesus, just as much as anyone else, no matter how old they are.

For most of regional assembly I had assumed that the regional youth had not come to the assembly. However, at lunch on Saturday, kids of all ages started showing up. We were told that the entire time we were at the assembly conducting our business, the kids had gone into the streets for some justice and service projects. I can’t help but wonder which working group Jesus would have attended. Jesus knew age was not a barrier in building the kindom and knew that the imago dei is in each of us from our creation and noticeable every day of our life.

Friends, this week give thanks for the children that not only help us envision our future but help us be better reflections of Christ right now in the present. This Sunday in worship or at the party, get to know the kids in our community. They are smart, thoughtful, and filled with an enduring spirit that I know will support their faith lives now and sustain them throughout their lives and the life of this church.

Shalom Y’all.
Rev. Stephanie