“Rooted in Authenticity: Definitions” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

June 30th,2022 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Friends,

What a week is has been friends. Pride filled us with hope and love and our communal activism reminded us why the message of the gospel is one of community. It was a busy weekend, and our lives will continue to be full, so I hope that you take time for yourselves and refill your cup when you feel it nearing empty. It is especially necessary for us to notice when we are getting empty and not just when we have run out. The goal is to never get to nothing. To provide access and space to refill your spirit – even just a little – so that you never require yourself to run on empty. And that is what we are hoping to model this summer as both Pastor Kaji and I take our summer sabbaths. As always, I will continue to pray for each of you and our community while I step away from the duties of my job for the month of July, but that does not mean the good work God started within me and within us is done. On the contrary, this is the time when we tend to the seeds planted, the dreams deferred, and focus on the good news that is always present. And the good news of Jesus is always present, friends. We hope to see you at Bible Study at 10am and worship at 11am.

One of the things that I have been trying to do more in my readings and relationships is to be more curious as to how those outside of my community came to believe the things that they do. It has been helpful as I think of ways to engage those drastically outside my context especially when we have opposing views. And one of the things that I find most often is that we define things differently. Even really common things. And being curios as to how we define things through lived experiences, context, language, etc. has helped me gain a deeper understanding of our biblical stories and thus has deepened my relationship to God. So, this week, we have a message from the Gospel of Mark, and it is one that many of us have heard before. But I want to invite you to work your way through the text and define each word twice. The first is how do you define it, be your own dictionary using your context and lived experience. The second is how might it have been defined by the biblical authors.  You don’t have to know for sure. This is an experiment of imagination, trust, and faith not a history assignment. I am just curious if finding and playing with multiple definitions helps you find a new message in this ancient text.

For example, the first word is “Now.” For me, I define “Now” as modern context, June 30, 2022, but to the author of Mark “now” may be 70CE when the gospel was roughly written, or maybe since Jesus is talking “Now” is somewhere in the lifespan of Jesus. See what I mean about different definitions and how they inform our reading? Let’s now work our way together through this passage of Mark 7:10-13:

10 “Now Moses said, ‘Honor your mother and your father’ and ‘Whoever speaks evil of mother or father must surely die.’ 11 But you all say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘A Korban—gift-offering [to God]—is whatever support you might have had from me.’ 12 Then, you all release them from any obligation for mother or father. 13 Thus you all make void the word of God through your tradition that you all have handed on. And you all do many things like this.”

Friends, I hope that thinking about how we define words helps open you up in new ways to our still speaking God. A God who is always present, always moving, and always loving.  I carry you with me on my journey and ask for your continued prayers as well. What a gift it is to serve God in this beloved community.

Shalom Y’all
Rev. Stephanie

Simple Prayer: O God, Fill my cup.  Amen