“Commit to Gratitude: Do the Work” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

October 31st,2019 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

I hope this week has been one of fun and excitement. Halloween/All Saints/Dia De Los Muertos are always such a wonderful time to stretch our imagination and express gratitude for all that has been and all that can be. There is so much happening this week that I want to draw your attention to. The first is that this week starts a new monthly commitment- Commit to Gratitude. Be sure to look for your monthly commitment email on Nov 1st. This coming Sunday is also that day our Finance Committee presents the 2020 budget to the congregation. This is a time where you can ask questions and get a feel for the vision we are casting together. The Finance Committee and the Ministry Council have worked hard on this budget and will be voted on at the Congregational Meeting, Nov 17th. Both Days will be important for you to attend. We give thanks for the work the Finance Committee and Ministry Council have done to create a document that is transparent, and casts a sustainable and faithful vision for our future.

This week’s scripture from 2 Thessalonians comes to us at such a great time. It is a scripture that encourages us to seek truth in all that we do. But it is not just about believing the facts, it calls us to discern truth amidst a flood of information and stories that come at us. It calls us to do the work. To not be deceived by false testimony or prophesy but to ask questions and hold each other accountable. That to me is the cornerstone of community. Let’s read together this week’s scripture from 2 Thessalonians chapter 2.

1 Concerning the coming of Jesus Christ and our being gathered to meet our Savior we beg you, sisters and brothers, 2 don’t become easily agitated or disturbed by some prophecy, report or letter falsely attributed to us, which says that the day of our Savior has come. 3 Let no one deceive you, in any way. It cannot happen until the Great Falling Away occurs, and the rebel, the Lost One, has appeared. 4 This is the Enemy, the one who claims to be so much greater than all that people call “God,” greater than every object of worship-so much so that it enthrones itself in God’s sanctuary and claims to be God.
5 Surely you remember me telling you these things when I was with you?
(2 Thess 2:1-5)

I love this text. I feel a sense of renewed call to be an active member of community when I read it. It also reminds me not to privilege anything over God. I don’t know about you, but that can sometimes be really hard. I am constantly worried. I worry about budgets and membership. I worry about ministries and the building. I worry about spreading myself too thin and not being present to each of you. But when I stop and remember that our God is one that does the work- that God is “greater than every object of worship” and one who warns us of things that seem God-like but are not in fact of God- when I do the personal work and get my own ego out of the way, when I let God be God, all will be well.

But it’s hard. I’m trying. I know you are too.

I used to think that verse 5 was the scripture equivalent of “per my last email.” I used to read it with sass and a bit of judgement. I replaced “surely” with “obviously” and used it to chastise myself when I felt anxious about giving control over to God. But as I have done the work to be more gracious with myself, I have noticed that I am more gracious with my scripture readings as well. Now I don’t read “surely” with a harsh tone, but with one of tenderness and comfort. Surely you remember God loves you. Surely God is doing the work with you. Surely you are beloved.

Friends, God is calling us to do the work. In a world where the truth seems to be packaged in distorted ways, God is calling us to do the work together. To not be deceived when the God-like presents itself as God. To be filled with gratitude for the grace that is abundant in our lives. And to surely remember that work takes time and God is patient.

Shalom Y’all,
Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: God, I will do the work to always remember that you are my truth. Amen