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The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, January 22, 2021

A progressive Christian experience...
Welcoming and affirming the LGBT community...

As a spiritual community following Jesus Christ we are called by the Holy Spirit:
  • To create meaningful, inclusive Community;
  • To be God’s voice and hands in Service to our neighbors and Creation;
  • To be a Witness of God’s love in and for the world;
  • To deepen our relationship with the Divine through Worship.

Food For Thought

Do you hear God’s voice speaking to you? What does that question even mean? If someone told us they were literally hearing the voice of God we might very well question their mental health. Or we might be reminded of TV preachers who have claimed God said we should give financially to their causes. Doubtful messages, at best. But, I believe God does speak to us all the time. The question is, are we listening? Is there so much noise going on around us that it drowns the Divine voice out? The world provides a cacophony of voices making demands on our time and our loyalties. Have we become lost, wandering away from the Divine in our lives, no longer able to hear God calling out to us?

The Bible tells us of the story of the young child Samuel who hears a voice calling to him in the quiet of the night but doesn’t realize it’s God and doesn’t know how to respond. The next time he hears the voice, he’s told, answer by saying, “your servant is listening.” Once he hears God’s message, Samuel then does what God asks even though it is difficult for him and as a result the story says he grows with God, known to the people of Israel as a prophet, one who speaks truth. The story of Samuel recommends three things we might do to better hear God’s voice in our lives.

First, we need to find time and space away from the busyness and chaos of our world. Maybe a walk in the woods where we hear only the birds and squirrels and the swaying of the trees. Or time in silent meditation with phones and TV’s turned off, perhaps even in the dead of night when the passing of cars is quieter. Time spent listening only to our own breathing. If God’s call doesn’t come to us as a literal external voice but more as a feeling or the whisper of our sub-conscious (or we might say the Spirit within), then we will need to make an extra effort to hear.

Second, we need to put ourselves in the role of a servant like Samuel. This means listening with humility. It’s not about us and our fears, but it’s about God and God’s desires for us. It means we stop trying to tell God what we think, we stop trying to make God in our image – no more gun-toting white supremacist deity – and begin to follow God’s path of love, peace, and justice, becoming a servant not only to God but to our neighbor.

Third, to declare that we are ready to listen is to tell God, to confirm even for ourselves, that we are not only ready to hear what God is saying to us, but we are ready to respond to what God is saying to us. When we read the Biblical stories we realize that responding to God’s call almost always means speaking out and standing up for peace and justice. It means loving our neighbor (which includes nature). If what we think we’re hearing from God is not ultimately about helping others, being compassionate and caring for each other and for Creation, then we should seriously question whether it is God speaking or our own selfish egos. Of course, Jesus tells us to love our neighbor and enemy both, but love requires compassion and caring. It does not require or even ask us to accept destructive ideas and actions. Love demands we reject the corrupt and destructive ways of wealth and power. Jesus himself, the incarnation of God’s love, was willing to confront and speak truth to power and so should we.

God is always seeking us, whether we know we’re lost or not, whether we think we’re looking for God or not. God calls out to us, hoping we will hear, stop, and turn. That we will respond as the listening servant with love and compassion. To what is God calling us this day?

Blessings,
Rev. Ken Arthur
 

P.S. This reflection is inspired by the sermon from January 17, 2021, “The Listening Servant.” Video and/or audio recordings of this and other past sermons can be found at https://phoenixchurch.org/home/phx-sermons/.

Be sure to check out our online discussion forum where you can drop in and contribute written comments to ongoing discussions at your leisure. If enough people are interested, this could be another useful tool to keep us all connected. To help us test this concept go to https://phoenixchurch.org/forum and create an account for yourself. This is very much a work in progress so let us know if you have questions or problems with the site.
 

The ONA Team will meet at 1 pm on Tuesday, February 2, 2021, to talk about our next project. We’ll gather on Zoom. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.
 

Steering Committee’s next meeting is tonight, Friday, February 12, at 7 pm via Zoom. Anyone is welcome to attend. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.
 

The Spirit(ed) Talk discussion group will meet at 7 pm EST on the first and third Mondays of the month for an open discussion regarding topics related to spirituality. On the second and fourth Mondays, Linda will host a discussion intended to be more secular in nature, although the topics may end up being very similar. We’re calling this “Spirit(ed) Talk” since the 2nd and 4th Mondays might not be about “spirit” but they should still be “spirited” discussions. As part of these changes we are using a new Zoom connection ID. It is no longer the same as Sunday worship. We’ll use this new connection info for ALL future Spirit(ed) Talk meetings, no matter which Monday it is. Please contact the church office for the Zoom info if you haven’t received it yet and would like to attend.
 

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are not ready to re-start in-person services yet. Our Steering Committee continues to re-evaluate on a monthly basis. In the meantime, continue to keep in touch with each other via phone, text, etc. and be sure to join us for Sunday Worship online! Thank you for your continued patience and support!
 

Pastor’s office hours are now by appointment until further notice. Meeting online is preferred via phone, FaceTime or Zoom. In-person meetings will only be considered in emergency situations.

 

Covid-19 Information: For those in Kalamazoo County, here is a helpful link from the county Health Services:https://www.kalcounty.com/hcs/covid19.php.

 

Please remember the churches and people of the Southwest Association, Michigan Conference, United Church of Christ, in your prayers.

For January please remember:

  • Congregational UCC, Galesburg, MI and Rev. Whitney Brown

  • First Congregational Church, St. Joseph, MI and Rev. Jeffrey Hubers

  • St. John’s UCC, Niles, MI, as they mourn the loss of Pastor Ray Fulbright, who passed from this life on January 3, 2021.

  • Southwest Member in Discernment, Ms. Melanie Johnson, as she continues the process of preparing for possible ordained ministry in the future.

Also remember and pray:

  • For victims of racism and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)

  • For those who live in privilege, that we may have the courage and compassion to fight racism

  • For those who are ill, whether it be Coronavirus or another ailment

  • For those in at-risk categories such as the aged and those with compromised immune systems

  • For caregivers, health care workers, and the hospitals and organizations they work for

  • For those that work in situations where they are at heightened risk from Coronavirus

  • For all of us as we navigate the questions and issues of living through a pandemic

  • For students, teachers, school staff, and parents in the midst of a pandemic

  • For all whose employment has been affected by the pandemic

  • For our leaders, that they may act wisely and compassionately for the good of all

  • For the future of our nation, that we may be united in compassion for each other

  • For the victims and perpetrators of violence

If you would also like to make a personal prayer request to be included in the Flamings, please email the request to office@phoenixchurch.org. Do not include information unless it is ok to make it public.

 

Worship begins at 6:00 pm on Sundays via Zoom. While we’re meeting online communion will be observed every Sunday. If you wish to participate, have something to eat and drink with you as we gather together online. Sermons will be posted online on Friday with a short summary and discussion time during Sunday worship. Check https://phoenixchurch.org/home/phx-sermons/ for new reflections and to view older ones.

 

Phoenix Community Church UCC
2208 Winchell Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49008

Phone: 269-383-3222

Office Email: office@phoenixchurch.org

Web Site: http://www.phoenixchurch.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PhoenixChurch  

If you would like to donate to the church, checks can be mailed to the church office or you may visit our website and click on the "Give" button in the right hand column or visit https://tithe.ly/give?c=2821191.

Peer Ministers for 2021 are Linda Cross, Arlene Scholfield, and Marvel Spencer. Please contact a peer minister if you need assistance or just a listening ear.

 

 

Also see our online calendar at: https://phoenixchurch.org/home/calendar/. Most events are currently being held online via Zoom. Note that if you don’t have a computer, you can also call in to Zoom on a phone (connection or long distance charges from your phone service may apply). If you need the connection information for an event contact the church for more information.
 

Recurring Events

Sundays, 6 pm: Worship

Mondays, 7 pm: Spirit Talk (except 5th Mondays)

Thursdays, 3:30 pm: Book Study

One-Time Events

Tuesday, Feb. 2: 1 pm, ONA Team

Friday, Feb 12: 7 pm, Steering Committee

 

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