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The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, February 28, 2020

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

It’s not difficult to understand why mountains are sacred to so many ancient and modern people. Looking up at their grandeur, their wildness, it’s not hard to feel the majesty of something so much bigger than yourself. When we’ve gone up that mountain and are looking across a vast area, soaking in the beauty of God’s Creation, whether it be lakes and forests or desert or even a city that lies below, we are often humbled by the understanding that there is more to this world then us and our lives.
 

In the Bible, mountains and wilderness are often understood to be where God can be found. God is everywhere, but if we want to get even closer to the Divine Presence, if we want some private conversation time with God, we go to the mountains. Moses and Jesus both experience life-changing encounters with God on a mountaintop. Moses ascends a mountain to receive God’s instructions for his people and Jesus goes up a mountain to pray and is transfigured in the company of Moses and Elijah. In both of these encounters, although God is present on those mountaintops, God is also hidden by clouds.
 

The clouds and fog of life often hide God’s presence from us. Sometimes we shroud God in projections of ourselves, acting like God was made in our image instead of the other way around. Sometimes we box God up in our doctrines and dogma. Or perhaps God may feel hidden because we have a hard time seeing God’s hand at work in our lives. But there is also a very real hiddenness to the Divine. No matter how hard we try to know God, there is always this sense of mystery, this sense that we just can’t ever know God completely, that we never fully arrive. Maybe that’s why we often refer to our spiritual life as a journey.
 

If you’ve ever traveled, you know that journeys often involve a lot of waiting: in lines, in traffic, in airports. In his mountain experience, Moses waited six days for God to speak. Six days of just waiting there for something to happen on a cloudy mountain. How long would we, who are products of a culture of instant gratification, have lasted before we gave up? Is God also hidden from us because we too often give up too soon? Give up on prayer or meditation too soon because we don’t sense anything happening? Give up on scripture too soon because we don’t understand it and the interpretations others have given us don’t make sense? Give up on church too soon because we went one Sunday and we didn’t feel “connected”? Perhaps part of the spiritual journey is cultivating more spiritual patience.
 

Jesus also waited six days. He told his disciples that some of them would see the Kin-dom of God before they died and then, we’re told in the next breath, six days later Jesus experienced the transfiguration with three of his disciples as witnesses. The transfiguration is about the Kin-dom of God! It asks us to pay attention not only to the endpoints of Jesus’ life, his birth and resurrection, but to what he did and said while he was here teaching, preaching, and healing. God even spells it out plainly: “This is my beloved child – listen to him!” To walk the path of Jesus, we actually have to listen to what he tells us, to follow his example as best we can. Sadly, I think many Christians these days will find that surprising. Saying, yes, I believe in Jesus is an easy thing. Saying, yes, I’ll walk this earth the way Jesus walked it – that’s not so easy.
 

This Lent we might spend some extra time listening to Jesus and reflect on and prepare for what it means to live in God’s Kin-dom of hope and justice, peace and love. Maybe this Lent we might consider engaging a new or renewed spiritual practice: maybe meditate every day, read the bible everyday, go for a daily walk in the woods, engage a stranger in positive conversation every day, make a daily list of things we’re grateful for, etc. What might we do during this season of reflection to take another step on the journey, to draw ourselves closer to God and the Kin-dom?
 

Of course, we don’t spend our whole lives in the joyful elation of what we call mountaintop experiences. The challenge that Jesus models for us is to bring that mountaintop experience into the valleys with us, into the lows and the nitty-gritty of life. Just as God draws us in close, to show us the Kin-dom, God sends us out again that we might take the Kin-dom with us to a world in need. Don’t give up too soon because God is there, hand outstretched, waiting to speak with us, to show us the Kin-dom that we might be refreshed and renewed, that we might live a life of hope and justice, peace and love, and bring God’s healing light to all we encounter.
 

Blessings,
Pastor Ken
 

This reflection was inspired by the sermon, “On the Mountaintop,” from Sunday, February 23, 2020. Although this sermon was not recorded due to an equipment malfunction, audio recordings of most sermons can be found at https://phoenixchurch.org/home/phx-sermons/.

 

 

The Timid Poet Open Mic is back! Our first open mic of the year will be tonight, Friday, February 28, 2020. Doors open at 6:30 pm and readings will start at 7 pm. To sign up for email notifications about future events, please visit http://timidpoetunderground.blogspot.com.
 

Join us for Spirit Talk, a time of relaxed discussion over the refreshment of your choice. This is a great opportunity to talk about whatever spiritual questions have been on your mind. We meet on the first and third Mondays of the month. The next gathering is March 2 at 7:00 pm at the Main St. Pub on Westnedge Avenue in Portage.
 

Lent, a season of reflection and turning to God, is full of opportunities to worship and reflect as a community in addition to normal Sunday worship services. See below for our schedule. All events are at 2208 Winchell Ave except for Maundy Thursday.

Taize Prayer Services, March 11 & 25, April 8, 6 pm – Contemplative service of prayer and chanting.

Movie Night, March 10, 6:45 pmTitle to be announced. We’ll gather at 6:45 pm and the movie will start promptly at 7 pm with a short discussion to follow. Bring a snack to share.

Maundy Thursday Love Feast, April 9, 6 pm – We will join Skyridge Church of the Brethren (394 S. Drake Rd) for their traditional Love Feast with a light dinner, communion and foot washing (optional). Please RSVP @ office@phoenixchurch.org.

Good Friday Worship, April 10, 8 pm – We cannot afford to ignore the darkness in our world. This powerful service recounts the tragedy of the last hours of Jesus' life through scripture and music while modern readings remind us of the evil and despair that still exists in our world today. This evening we sit with the darkness, yearning for the light that returns Easter morning.

Easter Sunrise Worship and Breakfast, April 12, 7 am – Short outdoor service followed by breakfast (available until 8:30 am). Sign up at church to bring a dish.

Easter Worship, April 12, 11 am (CC-DOC) and 6 pm (Phoenix) – Christ is Risen! Come and celebrate!
 

Steering Committee meets next at 7 pm on Friday, March 13, in the church office. Anyone is welcome to attend these meetings. A potluck dinner and Congregational meeting will be held after worship on Sunday, March 15.
 

An Ecclesiastical Council has been called by the Southwest Association of the Michigan Conference United Church of Christ to consider Rev. Mike Tupper for Privilege of Call. This is one of the last steps for Rev. Tupper to receive full standing as a minister of the United Church of Christ. The Ecclesiastical Council will be held at 1 pm on Saturday, March 14, 2020, at Phoenix Community Church. Rev. Tupper will give a presentation to be followed by a question and answer period. Please come and support him during this process.
 

Pastor’s Office hours for March will be 1:30 to 3:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, except that there will not be any office hours on Tuesday, March 17. If you stop by and the front door to the church is locked please ring the bell. We don’t want to miss your visit but we are unfortunately not able to leave the doors open if no one is upstairs to monitor them (our office is downstairs). Other meeting times can also be arranged by making an appointment.

 

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

For March please remember:

  • First Congregational Church, Constantine, MI, and Rev. Kathy Schuen.

  • Pilgrim Congregational Church, St. Joseph, Michigan, and Rev. David Stout.

  • Retired clergy no longer serving in active ministry: Rev. Devon Allen, Rev. William Bertsch, Rev. Robert Manning, Rev. Chris Noffke, Rev. Robert Persenaire, Rev. Curtis Plummer, Rev. Terry Tessari, Rev. Barb VanEck and Rev. Richard Warner.

Folks often make personal prayer requests during Sunday worship and at our Wednesday prayer group. 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. Communion is observed on the first Sunday of the month. Sermons from previous weeks are available online at https://phoenixchurch.org/home/phx-sermons/.
 

Mar. 1: “Led by the Spirit”

Mar. 8: “Born from Above”

Mar. 15: “Living Water”

Mar. 22: “By the Light”

 

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  

Peer Ministers for 2020 are Linda Cross and Arlene Scholfield. Please contact a peer minister if you need assistance or just a listening ear.
 

 

All events are at 2208 Winchell unless noted otherwise. Also see our online calendar at: https://phoenixchurch.org/home/calendar/.

Sundays, 6 pm: Worship

Tuesdays, 1:30 am - 3:30 pm: Pastor's Office Hours (except March 17)
Wednesdays, 4 pm: Prayer Group
Thursdays, 1:30 am - 3:30 pm: Pastor's Office Hours
Thursdays, 3:30 pm: Book Study

Friday, Feb. 28: 6:30 pm, Timid Poet Open-Mic
Monday, Mar. 2: 7 pm, Spirit Talk @ Main St. Pub, Portage, MI
Tuesday, Mar. 10: 6:45 pm, Movie Night
Wednesday, Mar. 11: 6 pm, Taize Prayer Service
Friday, Mar. 13: 7 pm, Steering Committee
Saturday, Mar. 14: 1 pm, Ecclesiastical Council
Sunday, Mar. 15: 7:15 pm, Potluck Dinner and Congregational Meeting
Monday, Mar. 16: 7 pm, Spirit Talk @ Main St. Pub, Portage, MI
Wednesday, Mar. 25: 6 pm, Taize Prayer Service
Friday, Mar. 27: 6:30 pm, Timid Poet Open-Mic

 

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