“Inspire Community: Growth” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

May 7th,2020 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

I hope that you are home and safe. Like many of you I am itching to get out of my home but know that for the health and safety of all, it is best that I don’t. The care of community is no small task and I am grateful for all the ways this church cares and looks after all of God’s creation. This week continued to be filled with amazing gatherings and ways to be community- and the week isn’t over. There is the Harry Potter themes YASS Digital Happy Hour happening tonight. The weekly “Won’t Stop” is an easy way to keep engaged with our growing community. And of course, on Sunday we have Bible Study at 10am, Children’s Worship at 10:30, All church Worship at 11am, and then a special Coffee Fellowship hour starting at 12:30pm. Apart together yet still community. I am so grateful.

This week’s text is one that is always a bit challenging. It shows us the challenges of both being called to justice both communally and individually. I don’t know about you, but when I read our texts, I am always hoping to align myself with the one doing the right thing- the one that follows the teachings of Jesus and the justice seeking will of God most faithfully. And yet, I think I learn the most when I wrestle with a text- especially one where I see myself in several of the characters. This week we continue in the Book of Acts. Let’s read together and see what character you hope to be, and what character(s) you have been in your life.
Stephen, meanwhile, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked to the sky and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right side of God. “Look!” he exclaimed. “I see the heavens opened, and the Chosen One standing at God’s right hand!”

The onlookers were standing there, shouting and holding their hands over their ears as they did so. They rushed at him as one and dragged him out of the city. The witnesses then stoned him, having laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “O Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Please, don’t hold this sin against them!” And with that, he died. (Acts 7:55-60)

Where did you find yourself in the text?  Did your mind wander as you read? I know mine did. I remembered times when I spoke boldly of God with me. I have been the onlooker covering my ears and eyes. I have been both hurtful and hurt. And I have been the one who steps outside the happenings to narrate the events to others, and although I know that I live in the present, I also carry those moments with me. Like the rings of a tree, riddled with growth marks. I have learned and grown in all of my life events because God’s grace has not only allowed it- but called me to it.

Friends, no matter where in the story you are right now, God’s grace and love pulls us forward. The trace of life events lingers with us always, but they don’t always need to be front and center. God’s grace gets that pride of place. And when we remember that, when we remember and live into the fact that God forgives and loves and grows with us no matter what, then we get to forgive and love and grow more graciously with ourselves.

Shalom Y’all,

Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: God, forgive me, love me, and help me grow. Amen