“Commit to Community: Saying Yes to Jesus” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

September 5th,2019 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

I hope this week has found you with a renewed sense of energy toward the many communities that love you. We at The Park are so thankful that you are a part of our growing church and we hope that you have made plans to worship with us every Sunday this month either in person or online. Remember that homecoming is next week which is always an incredible time of fellowship. It is also a time to look back on the work we have done together and the work we are looking forward to doing. If you are one who is looking to join our church, please see me or Pastor Kaji who is back from her sabbatical this week! No matter what path has brought you to us, we are glad you are here.

This week I worked from Arizona as I spent time casting vision with the Moderator Team for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The work we have done and will continue to do is exciting and life-giving. However in order to say yes to this call, I had to make sure that I had the time and energy in my life to do it. Discerning what to say no to is hard for me. I like to do everything I can to build communities up in the name of Christ, so saying no to something can often be hard. But luckily, we have a God who is faithful and offers us guidance in our scripture at every step.

This week’s scripture from Luke reminds us that following Jesus does not come without personal sacrifice- and it was never meant to. It reminds us that we need to say no to things in order to say yes to Jesus. Let’s read together from Luke chapter 14.

25 Large crowds followed Jesus. He turned to them and
said, 26 “If any of you come to me without turning your back
on your mother and your father, your loved ones, your sisters
and brothers, indeed your very self, you can’t be my
follower. 27 Anyone who doesn’t take up the cross and follow
me can’t be my disciple.

What is your cross to bear? What in your life do you need to turn your back on, meaning take your focus off of, in order to put your focus on Jesus and the work of the gospel? This passage isn’t telling us to literally turn our backs on those closest to us, but rather asking us to examine where we put time and energy in our life. How much time is spent worrying about a fight you had with your spouse rather than worrying about those facing homelessness? What has stopped you from attending accompaniment training for immigration court? What do you need to clear off your calendar in order to join us for bible study? Basically, what do we have to say no to, to say yes to Jesus? What do you need, or need to do, to pick up your cross and follow Jesus?

Friends, I learned this week at the retreat center that the saguaro cactus starts growing an arm around 60 years of age. Luckily, we don’t have to wait that long to make these changes in our lives and more faithfully live into our call to follow Jesus. We can and will start today.

Shalom Y’all,
Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: God, I commit to taking up my cross and following you. Amen