“Rooted in History: Stay” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

February 10th,2022 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Friends,

Black Lives are Holy. Black Life, Lives, History, Culture, Dreams, Family, Safety, Prosperity, and Truth not only matter but are vital to God’s creation we are called to share and the kindom we are called to build. As we continue to grieve the loss of Amir Locke and every life taken in this pandemic of racism and white supremacy, the c/Church must model and require change and demand accountability. It must also recognize, value, and center the differences of the faith lives and lived experiences of its Black members and leaders. These differences are how we will know the kindom of God most fully. To deny them is to deny Jesus. The Park will not be silent or deny the lived experiences of Black and Brown people like Amir – like Jesus – nor will we be resigned to inaction through our privilege. We will continue to say Black Lives Matter and understand it as a holy statement that tethers us to the lived experiences of Jesus and the fullness of our faith.

Y’all, every week I struggle with how to open this newsletter. So much happens in the life of the church, and in our individual and collective lives that blanket statements seem insufficient and rarely are we all in the same emotional space. Birthdays and funerals, new relationships and renewed fears, award nominations (Congrats Traci and Ahmir!) and dreams deferred, hope and grief – they all happen simultaneously every day. Meaning we contain multitudes not just in ourselves but in our community as well. And so, as I say most weeks, I hope you have found yourself warm and cared for this week, but I hope that the warmth and care show up for you in ways that are specific to where you are physically, spiritually, and emotionally and attend to your unique needs. Because I do hope you are all warm, but I hope the generator of warmth for our Black siblings is one of comfort and support, and I hope our white siblings are warm with the fire of justice, anger, and urgency because the system of white supremacy has once again murdered Jesus. And I hope that the care we all receive is the care that you need, and not the care that others think you want. We are and we contain– multitudes. And with that, I hope you will join us for worship this week (online at 11am) and share with us who you are in full. But most of all, I hope you know that wherever you find yourself emotionally located, spiritually rooted, or physically planted – God is with you. God will always stay.

This week’s passage is the continuing story of the widow, her family, Elijah, and God from 1 Kings that we read last week, and in light of this week’s events – the multitudes- I couldn’t help but notice something that I am curious if you notice too. So, let’s read together and see what the Spirit of our still speaking God reveals to you.

17 After [the miracle multiplying the meal and oil], the child of the woman—the owner of the house—became ill and his illness was so overwhelming that there was no breath left in the child. 18 And she said to Elijah, “What is between me and thee man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to kill my child!” 19 Then he said to her, “Give me your child,” and he took the child from her bosom and carried the child up into the room upstairs where he, Elijah, was staying and laid the child on his own bed. 20 Then he cried out to the HOLY ONE OF OLD, “HOLY ONE my God, have you actually wrought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn by killing her child?” 21 And Elijah stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried out to the MOST HIGH, “HOLY ONE my God, let this child’s soul come into him again.” 22 And the MOST HIGH GOD listened to the voice of Elijah and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 Then Elijah took and brought the child down from the house’s upstairs room, and gave the child to the mother and said, “Look! Your child lives.” 24 So the woman said to Elijah, “Now this I know, you are a man of God and that the word of the HOLY ONE OF OLD in your mouth is truth.”

1 Kings 17:17-24 (Year W)

What did you notice? For me, the thing I am most curious about is – why did Elijah go upstairs? Which leads to a bigger question of why do we hide our emotions? I am grateful that the narrator of this story tells me that Elijah was emotional and had a reaction to this woman’s grief that overtook his body, mind, and spirit. He cries. He questions God. He prays. He begs. He stretches. And we as the readers know this, but does the woman?  How might she have grown in her faith and her relationship to God had she seen Elijah cry, question, and pray- and God answer? What might change in Elijah’s faith, leadership, and even personhood had he been emotionally open with the woman and her child? Of course, cultural practice and context plays a big part, but for me, this passage is in part a call to remind us that we all contain multitudes. Yet society has long expected men to hide their emotions to be seen as worthy of respect. But the result of that expectation was never respect, but a denial of the fullness of the human experience to the detriment of men’s mental and emotional health and their relationships. And yet, Elijah’s cries are not secret- at least not to us. And because we know the part Elijah tried to hide, we know that God can take our anger, our grief, and our inquisitions and will love that much more.

Friends, you contain multitudes and you were created whole, but none of us were created complete. God uses scripture, relationships, and beloved community to meet us where we are and to speak to us anew; so, that the God within us and amongst us, can be known and shared in ways that help each of us grow into our physical, spiritual, and emotional fullness. We hope that you will share the multitudes of who you are and who God is calling you to be with our community. And finally, when you feel like Elijah, and feel the need to leave and hide how you feel from others, we hope you will share with us the miracles that you and God are doing together. Because God will always stay. And so will we.

Shalom Y’all
Rev. Stephanie

Simple Prayer: O Holy One, help me share me in my fullness . Amen.