“Inspire Something New: Teachers and Students” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

April 23rd,2020 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter
Beloved Church,

Prayers of rest and healing to every one of you. This week in New York the weather has shifted to be cooler with more rain which has helped with my desire to run outside every time I open a window. It’s the little things that I am noticing now that make this time pass by with greater ease. I know we often talk about finding God in the still small voice or in the unprompted moments of connection, and  living into that can sometimes be hard, but then rain comes and reminds you that you may not have gone outside anyway today, and so staying in becomes a little easier this day or this hour. I have learned over the years to call those God moments and I hope your week is filled with them. Life in the church continues to flourish which is another God moment. When more people show up than expected or new friendships are formed through the zoom viewer, we know that the word we do with God is still active and thriving. We have a new online ministry this week called the weekly “Won’t Stop.” Follow our social media feeds to see that week’s “Won’t Stop” word or phrase and then tag us in pictures or videos that show the world that #TheParkWontStop working with God. This week’s phrase is “Finding Joy.” Yass is still meeting on Sundays (Netflix Party) and Thursdays (Happy Hours) and next week is a new month for INSPIRE 2020. As always there is so much happening in the life of the church and we are so glad you are a part of it.

When I was younger- though older than I should have been- I declared that I would never be a teacher. I was pushing my boundaries of independence as most of my family worked in the education system. I’m not proud of it, but we grow in grace with God and each other as we get older. Now, I can’t imagine not being a teacher. While I may not be a traditional classroom teacher, I am a teacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I think we are now – maybe even more so than ever- acutely aware of the value of our teachers, as many parents try to navigate middle school math to much chagrin. But even out of the context of social distance learning as we grow, we are all called to teach what we know to others. And while we primarily think of teaching meaning handing down information to the next generation- as we grow in maturity as pointed out in our scripture- we learn that being a teacher and being a student go hand in hand. We are students and teachers at every age because we are a part of a system – a “body” if you will – that is dependent on every part teaching and listening and growing together for the good of the whole. And luckily the head of our body, the part that models leading and learning best, is helmed by God. Let’s read together this week’s scripture from Ephesians.

Each of us has received God’s grace in the measure in which Christ has bestowed it.

Thus you find scripture saying,

“You ascended on high,

leading captives in your train,

and giving gifts to people.”

And to some, the gift they were given is that they should be apostles; to some, prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers. These gifts were given to equip fully the holy ones for the work of service, and to build up the body of Christ—until we all attain unity in our faith and in our knowledge of the Only Begotten of God, until we become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Let us then be children no longer, tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine, or by human trickery or crafty, deceitful schemes. Rather, let us speak the truth in love, and grow to the full maturity of Christ, the head. Through Christ, the whole body grows. With the proper functioning of each member, firmly joined together by each supporting ligament, the body builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:7-8,11-16)

Friends, we are a body firmly joined together by love of each other and Christ Jesus. And while we may be more attuned to the spaces of growth that we need to lean into as we mature, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t been crucial teachers and learners our whole lives. The timeline that we are given in scripture is “until we all attain unity in our faith,” which is not a call for hegemony but a call to be open to growth our whole lives. Open to growth so that we are always learning something new from Jesus and in turn learning from and teaching each other.

Shalom Y’all,

Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: God, help me grow with and for the body of Christ. Amen