“Commit to Community: No Turning Back” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

September 12th,2019 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

I hope you are excited for this week as I am. Homecoming Sunday is here, and I am ready to celebrate with you! We will have food, fellowship, and a time to hear from the different members of our community who lead ministries. It will be a Sunday you won’t want to miss. Just a reminder that if you can’t make it to a Sunday worship in person, we see, love, and value our online congregants and hope you will join us on one of our streaming platforms (website, YouTube, Facebook, etc). This month of commitment we are recommitting ourselves to this community in all the ways that it has manifested, and we hope that you will commit to us too.

In my life I have been a girl scout, a soccer player, a pastor, an actor, a daughter, a member of a fraternal order, a fan, a voter, and the list goes on. I like to join things. At first it was just a place and a community to belong. However, it now is a theological tenet. I view these identities that come with community, holy because where two or three are gathered, God is there. If you were to go into my closet you would see two shelves of t-shirts I have collected over the years. One for the San Francisco Giants and one for the US Women’s National Team. They range in every size from when I was a child, to every range of adult sizing. I keep them, even when they don’t exactly fit, because 1) they are related to incredible memories and 2) I love to give them to people who want to support those teams and players. That is because when I make up my mind and join a community, there is no turning back. I am all in. And I am all in forever.

27 Thus says God: “The whole land will be desolate,
but I will not completely destroy it.
28 So the earth mourns
and the heavens above turn black.
For I made known my intentions.
I made up my mind. I will not turn back.” (Jeremiah 4:27-28)

God is our biggest fan and God is all-in when it comes to rooting for creation. But like any fan, unconditional love does not mean consistent happiness. We have all heard the “I am not mad, just disappointed,” line. And the “terrible two’s” are a social narrative that many of us are familiar with. These phrases, much like our scripture this week, do not mean that we love people any less when they fall short of their potential, it actually means the opposite. Through our life we will guide and be guided through spaces of change and growth. We will misstep and fall short, and we will succeed and soar, but no matter what there is someone all-in for our whole life. Someone who will not turn their back on us. A love so big that we will both continuously miss it and yet be amazed by it all at once.

Friends, God will not turn back on us. God will not turn around or change God’s mind about loving us. That is the beauty of God’s love and grace that we are called to follow. And where two or three are gathered – like every week here at The Park – God is present, God is calling you in, and God will never turn back. I hope this month of commitment to community has you feeling that pull-that grace- from a community and a God that love you. See you at Homecoming.

Shalom Y’all,
Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: God, I know you will not turn back on me. Amen