“Family Ties” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

October 25th,2018 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

What a week we have had together. I am still carrying Heaven’s message with me and have been a bit more gentile with myself in areas I am usually more critical. I hope you have been as well. This week is one you won’t want to miss. We have an incredible worship lined up and after we will have our budget hearing. I hope to see you Sunday!

I was watching an interview with actress Tracee Ellis Ross the other day. She was speaking about how she takes care of herself. She isn’t one that thinks self-care is synonymous with a spa, but she shares that self-care for her is knowing when to say “no.” It was a really wonderful interview that showed the hard work she was doing on herself. It was an article also highlighting the happiness she found in being a single woman. It was powerful and inspiring. But then it turned to questions about her mom, and what it was like growing up as the daughter of singer, Diana Ross. She spoke lovingly about her mom, but it got me thinking about how often that must happen to her, even as she has made her own way in the world. There is a parallel to Tracee’s story in this week’s scripture. Read this week’s scripture from the Gospel of Mark and see if you recognize what I’m talking about.

46 They came to Jericho. As Jesus was leaving Jericho with the disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus ben-Timaeus, was sitting at the side of the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say, “Heir of David, Jesus, have pity on me!”
48 Many people scolded him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the louder, “Heir of David, have pity on me!”
49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.”
So they called the blind man. “Don’t be afraid,” they said. “Get up; Jesus is calling you.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, Bartimaeus jumped up and went to Jesus.
51 Then Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Rabbuni,” the blind man said, “I want to see.”
52 Jesus replied, “Go, your faith has saved you.” And immediately Bartimaeus received the gift of sight and began to follow Jesus along the road.

People were seeking out Jesus because they knew what he could do. In this case make a blind man see. But the man didn’t say, “Jesus son of God,” or even, “Hey I heard you healed someone else.” No, Jesus was flagged down through his ancestral lineage, “Heir of David.”

Like Tracee Ellis Ross, Jesus was sought after for his own gifts, but there was often the shadow of someone else. Sometimes it was God, this time it was David. It is a privilege to be able to trace your ancestry, and it is also something we must hold with care. Many people due oppressive structures such as slavery, colonization, and patriarchy cannot trace their genealogy or family history. For those that can, our lineage is something that we get to help inform us, but it should not be used to set us aside or uphold privilege.

Friends, how are we making space for people to flourish with their own gifts and not attribute them to others? How might we celebrate people for who they are and not who we think they should be? How can we be more present to each other in this moment? To start, this week I am going to celebrate that Jesus is Jesus, You are You, and I am me.

A short prayer for your week: Holy One, many have come before me and so they will come after me, help me be present in the work we are called to do together in this moment. For your grace and love is, always has been, and always will be present.

Shalom Y’all.
Rev. Stephanie