“It Takes a Village” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

May 10th,2018 Categories: Latest News, Stephanie Kendell Letters

Beloved Church,

I hope this week is finding you well and joyful. This Saturday there is a SoulFood Fellowship that I know will be a wonderful time. Please let Rev. Sydney know if you plan on attending. And as always, we will have Sunday worship, which will be followed by our monthly YASS gathering. There is always so much to do at The Park, we hope you will join us for some (or ALL ) of it!

This week I read about the truly unfortunate vote that took place in the United Methodist Church. If you haven’t heard, two amendments posed to the annual conferences.

“Amendment #1, which added language that both men and women are made in the image of God and that we will confront and seek to eliminate discrimination against women and girls…Amendment #2, which added this language, “… nor shall any member be denied access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church because of race, color, gender, national origin, ability, age, marital status, or economic condition,”

Neither of these two amendments passed. The opportunity to live out the call to love your neighbor as yourself was missed.  I love my UMC friends, but this is awful. It is especially bad as I am sure many of these churches that voted against the amendments, will turn around this Sunday and celebrate Mother’s Day. Luckily this week’s scripture offers us a glimpse into a time where the people of God needed some help to truly hear God’s word. Read these words from Luke:

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”  Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah[a] is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses[b] of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what God promised; so, stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.  Luke 24:44-53 (ILB)

I don’t know about you, but I like the image of God “opening minds.” It conjures an image for me of a cartoon head literally being opened and the word of God being placed inside. I like this imagery because sometimes, people miss the point of scripture so hard, that the only way to correct it seems to be divine intervention. But no matter how it gets there, God’s word and love, prevails. It sounds to me like God needs to open the minds of our UMC neighbors to the scriptures of God’s love and justice. However, the UMC aren’t the only ones to get it wrong.

We have all missed the call of God or turned away from God’s message at one time or another. There are countless times throughout history of people and organizations getting it wrong and standing in their own way. But grace allows us to try again…and again…and again…and if necessary to open our minds a little wider…and try again.

To the Methodist women, we see you. I hope you know you are made in the image of God and that no one can tell you what awesome call God has placed on your heart, no matter how you identify yourself. But I also know that it can be hard to keep on fighting. Like raising a family, it takes a village of support and accountability to make sure every member of creation is living up to their potential. Part of that support is each other, part of that support is social justice and equality, and part of that support is God and the scriptures of God’s word. We are in your family of support, like the mothers in our lives and the mothering God we serve, we will help you parent strong and guide our society to open their minds to God’s call …and try for justice again.

Friends, this Sunday as we celebrate the Mothering God that has birthed us all, may we remember our responsibility as God’s created loves, to be gentle with ourselves and neighbors. This week can bring about big emotions for a lot of reasons, but when we show up for each other in church, in relationships, and in our larger communities it can make life so much easier.

Shalom Y’all.
Rev. Stephanie