The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, January 8, 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

Where is God? In the midst of a global pandemic, where is God? In the midst of violence in our city and wars between nations, where is God? In the midst of job loss or death, in the face of poverty, racism, sexism, and homophobia, where is God? In the Bible King David wants to build a temple for God because to that point the symbol for God’s presence had resided in a tent. But God responds that no temple is need, saying that the people do not need to care for God but God will care for them. David was trying to honor God by building a temple, but it was also, in a way, an attempt to box God in, whether David realized it or not. David thought he knew what was best for God rather than listening to and following what God desired. God reminds us that God won’t stay in our boxes. God will not be controlled. God tells David, “I have been with you wherever you went.” God is not tied down to one place. God is everywhere. The Divine is everywhere we go because the Divine goes with us.

If we can’t feel and see God with us, perhaps it’s because we’re not really expecting too. We think we’ve successfully put God in a box, to be pulled out only in emergencies. But God isn’t in the boxes we create. The Divine walks with us and fills our very being. The birth of Jesus also reveals this truth to us. God is not some far-away unapproachable entity. The Divine is not hiding in some heaven or some temple. The Divine comes to us in a small child born in a manger. God is with us and knows what it means to be human because God exists in the flesh of this world. God knows our pain. God knows our joys. God walks with us, even in unexpected and unanticipated ways, like the birth of the child Jesus.

And the really good news? When we realize this, when we truly understand that God is with us, always and forever, it opens up possibilities, the possibilities of new birth and new life. When an angel appears to Mary, the mother of Jesus, she is assured that as unlikely as her pregnancy seems, all things are possible with God. What we think is impossible often turns out to be possible – and how much more so when the power of God is with us. Our main limitation is thinking something can't be done. Saying no. Giving up. What have we said no to in our lives out of fear, defeated before we even tried? But God is with you. God is with us. And nothing is impossible with God.

God's love came into this world as a little baby. Vulnerable. Helpless. That this baby was God seems impossible. And yet this is the promise of Christmas. That this vulnerable, helpless baby is God's love come into the world to show us the Way as a light in the darkness. This vulnerable, helpless baby brings the hope, peace, joy, and love that makes the impossible happen. Wonderful, unexpected things happen when we trust God. When we say yes to the impossible. What is God calling us to say yes to in this new year? What greatness is God calling us to give birth to?

Rev. Ken Arthur

P.S. This reflection is inspired by the sermon from December 20, 2020, “Possibilities.” Video and/or audio recordings of this and other past sermons can be found at

Steering Committee’s next meeting is tonight, Friday, January 8, at 7 pm via Zoom. Anyone is welcome to attend. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.

We’re Open and Affirming. Now what? Phoenix Community Church is hosting an online discussion, “Life After ONA,” at 7 pm on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 so our Southwest Association churches can share our collective wisdom on how we are living out our commitments as Open and Affirming (ONA) communities of faith. Seven of our 19 Association churches have officially declared themselves ONA. But what happens after that official declaration? How has it changed our church (if it has)? What are we doing to reach out and welcome the LGBTQ community? How do we affirm LGBTQ people who are already part of our church? Where have we fallen down on our commitments? How can we renew our energy for making an inclusive and expansive welcome? These are just some of the questions we’ll talk about on January 12. Note that there won’t be a presentation. We’re hoping instead that we’ll each bring the wisdom of our own experiences to share and learn from. If you would like to attend, email the church office for the connection information.

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.

Another experiment we’re trying is an 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 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 Book Study group has resumed, beginning a new book: “The Rise and Fall of the Bible” by Timothy Beal. You don’t need to purchase the book to join us as we read together during our 3:30 pm Zoom gatherings every Thursday. The connection information for meetings is the same as for Sunday worship.

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:

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 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 for new reflections and to view older ones.


Phoenix Community Church UCC
2208 Winchell Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49008

Phone: 269-383-3222

Office Email:

Web Site:


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

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: 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(ed) Talk discussion group (except 5th Mondays)

Thursdays, 3:30 pm: Book Study

One-Time Events

Friday, January 8, 2021: 7 pm, Steering Committee

Monday, January 12: 7 pm, Life After ONA

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