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The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, August 14, 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

Most of us have felt inadequate to some task at some point in our lives. Maybe we didn't think we had the skills necessary. Or maybe we were just wore out and not sure we had the energy to go on. Even Jesus felt the need to rest and re-energize. The gospel of Matthew tells us that after hearing of the death of his cousin John the Baptist, Jesus tried to escape into the wilderness where he could grieve, rest, and pray. But the crowds followed him, wanting to hear him teach and to experience the healing they had heard about. I imagine that Jesus probably wasn’t feeling up to dealing with the crowds that day but he found something within himself and had compassion for them.
 

I suspect that what kept Jesus going was his trust in God. He doesn't trust that God will take care of the crowd and then leave. No, he trusts that God will give him the strength to care for the people and he, despite his grief, spends the entire day teaching and healing until the evening meal. At that time, the people were hungry and needed food and the disciples looked at what food they had and said “it’s not enough.” So they went to Jesus and asked to send the crowds away so they could go home and eat. But Jesus says no, we'll feed the people. There's no need to send them away. And in response, the disciples complain that they only have five loaves of bread and two fish for thousands of people. Jesus tells them to bring their nothing, bring whatever they have no matter how meager they think it is. And he turns to God and trusts that their nothing will be enough. Trusting in God, nothing becomes something. And the people were fed with much food left over.
 

This story asks us to turn to God in trust. Trust that when things seem hopeless, hope can be found in God. Trust that miracles are possible. To live like Jesus is to live an active trust. Not to trust that God will have someone else take care of the problem, but to trust that God will give us the wisdom and strength we need to do it. To trust that God can make something out of what looks like nothing, that with God the seemingly impossible becomes possible.
 

Do we, like the disciples, find ourselves falling prey to thinking in terms of scarcity? Saying things like: I’m not smart enough, I don’t know how to do that, we’ve never done that before, we don’t have enough money, we’re too small of a group, we’re too tired… Many of our world’s problems are also based on this fear that we don’t have enough. We fear immigrants because we think they’ll take our jobs and we don’t believe we have enough to share. We focus so much on wealth because we think there will never be enough. No matter how much money we make, we always think it’s not quite enough. We see this in churches too. Whether it’s a church of 20 or 200 or 2000 it’s not uncommon to find churches thinking we’re not big enough or we don’t have enough budget to do what God is calling us to do.
 

But what could we accomplish if we trust that what we have IS enough? If we trust in God’s abundance? Maybe, just maybe, everyone gets fed and we find ourselves transformed into the loving children of God, a people who never give up, a people assured of God’s love, who give that love freely to the world. Within each of us lies untapped and overlooked potential. We may not see it ourselves, but God can see it. And with God, nothing becomes something – God sees abundance where we only see scarcity – and the impossible becomes possible. Let us put our hope and trust in God, an active trust that God will give us the strength and wisdom we need for our ministry, that we need to make a difference in this world.
 

Blessings,
Rev. Ken Arthur
 

Note: This reflection is inspired by the sermon, “God’s Abundance,” from August 2, 2020. This and other sermons can be heard at https://phoenixchurch.org/home/phx-sermons/.

 

When will we gather in person again for worship? Because there has been an increase in COVID-19 infection rates recently, Steering Committee decided that we will not begin in-person services in August. We will re-evaluate for a possible September start-up at Steering Committee’s August meeting. 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!
 

Book study continues online every Thursday at 3:30 pm. We’re currently reading “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” by James Cone. We read together during our meetings so it isn’t necessary to buy the book if you don’t want to. Please join us via Zoom. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.
 

Steering Committee will meet tonight, Friday, August 14, at 7 pm via Zoom. Anyone is welcome to attend. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.
 

Join us for Spirit Talk on Monday, August 17, at 7 pm. We’ll meet online via Zoom for this open discussion time. This is a great opportunity to talk about whatever spiritual questions have been on your mind. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.
 

A Congregational Meeting is scheduled for after worship on Sunday, September 13.
 

Donations to Phoenix Community Church: Many thanks to everyone who continues to support the church in whatever way they are able! Even though we’re doing church differently at the moment, the normal costs of a church community continue. If you are able to make your usual, or even additional, offerings at this time it would be much appreciated. Checks can be mailed to the church office (address below). Some might want to set up “bill pay” with their bank so that their offering is automated. At this time we don’t have a mechanism for making online donations.
 

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.
 

Register to Vote! This is an important election year. Please remember to register and vote in our fall elections! For Michigan residents you can find more information and register at the online Michigan Voter Information Center: https://mvic.sos.state.mi.us/.

 

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

For August please remember:

  • Wide Awake UCC, a new church start in Benton Harbor, MI, and Rev. Dr. Oscar Varnadoe

  • First Congregational Church, Union City, MI, and Rev. Don Mason

  • SWA Church & Ministry Committee: Mr. Dale Muyskens, Chair; Rev. Deborah Kohler, Rev. Bob Bond, Ms. Michele Bush, Rev. Jennifer Fair, Rev. Dr. Scott Luppe, Rev. Kyle Tade, Mr. Ken Warren, Mr. Doug Stahnke, Rev. Ken Arthur (registrar)
     

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 returning to “normal” routines

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

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  

Peer Ministers for 2020 are Linda Cross and Arlene Scholfield. 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 online
Thursdays, 3:30 pm: Book Study online

One-time Events:
Friday, Aug 14: 7 pm, Steering Committee online
Monday, Aug 17: 7 pm, Spirit Talk online
Monday, Sep 7: 7 pm, Spirit Talk online
Friday, Sep 11: 7 pm, Steering Committee online

 

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