“Inspire Authenticity: Lineage” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

June 11th,2020 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

I hope this week you have found spaces to stretch your body and spirit. I have found it helpful during this call to shelter in place to start every day by stretching my body and let my mind wander. I think about my day, I think about our church, and I think about how I hope to connect with God. Praying with our body in this way is good for our spirit. I invite you to give it a try. This week we continue to have our many spaces of connection. We have worship with Park Avenue Synagogue this week and are invited to share in their online service at 6:15pm Friday evening. We also have our Sunday worship at 11am. This coming week is also Inspired Dialogue. There is so much happening in the life of the church we hope you will join us.

This month is Pride month and as we see the protests demanding justice for black lives it reminded me of Marsha P. Johnson. If you don’t know, Marsha P. Johnson I encourage you to look her up, but she is one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall Inn protest that is considered one of the major catalysts in the fight for equal rights for LGBTQIA+ people. She was a black gender expansive person that picked up the baton of justice and has handed it off to us. The legacy of her work is with each one of us each time we say #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackLivesAreHoly. We have inherited this call to justice from Marsha and others who have paved the way and we must be responsible for it as we prepare to hand it to the next generation of justice seekers. That lineage- the inheritance of justice-is something I think a lot about. Especially as a person of faith. What do I hope my legacy is and the legacy of the church? How am I bringing that vision to fruition?

Which is why this week’s scripture is so timely. This scripture has been a part of faith legacies and lineages since the beginning. It affirms our call to interfaith work and its holy lineage. And it names the many ways in which God is at work in communities that we could have never imagined. Let’s read together this passage from Genesis 21.

The child grew, and on the day of weaning, Sarah and Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah noticed the child that Hagar the Egyptian had borne for Abraham, playing with her child Isaac. She demanded of Abraham, “Send Hagar and her child away! I will not have this child of my attendant share in Isaac’s inheritance.”

Abraham was greatly distressed by this because of his son Ishmael. But God said to Abraham, “Don’t be distressed about the child or about Hagar. Heed Sarah’s demands, for it is through Isaac that descendants will bear your name. As for the child of Hagar the Egyptian, I will make a great nation of him as well, since he is also your offspring.”

Early the next morning Abraham brought bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar. Then, placing the child on her back, he sent her away. She wandered off into the desert of Beersheba. When the skin of water was empty, she set the child under a bush, and sat down opposite him, about a bow-shot away. She said to herself, “Don’t let me see the child die!” and she began to wail and weep.

God heard the child crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven. “What is wrong, Hagar?” the angel asked. “Do not be afraid, for God has heard the child’s cry. Get up, lift up the child and hold his hand; for I will make of him a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went to it and filled the skin with water, and she gave the child a drink.

God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became a fine archer. He made his home in the desert of Paran, and his mother found a wife for him in Egypt.
(Genesis 21:8-21 )

Faiths that stem from the lineage of Abraham have incredible bonds and shared history of a God that intentionally creates God’s people and covenants with them in shared and also unique ways. What ways do you see that happening now in your community? What unique covenant have you and God made with each other? What are the shared covenants that are at work in your church, family, and world? If you can’t name it that’s okay too. That is why we engage in conversations and listen to the stories and traditions of others. It is why we continue to have faithful dialogues with our partnering communities such as Park Avenue Synagogue as we are this week.

Friends, we are a part of many traditions and legacies. From Jesus to Marsha to George Floyd, we have been handed the baton of hope and if used faithfully, we have the chance to be known as part of the catalyst of change that brings about justice for black lives. For God was with both Isaac and Ishmael, and God is also with us.

Shalom Y’all,

Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: O Lord for the catalysts of change we give thanks. Amen