The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, May 8, 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

As we continue in this uncertain time of a global pandemic, many people continue to struggle. We are experience fear and grief. We’re starting to get antsy from staying home so much. Disturbingly, some people are in denial or acting out in violence. At times like this we might find great comfort in the knowledge that God walks with us even through the darkest valleys of life. I think it is just as important to remind ourselves that God is within the stranger. It is too easy to forget that we are all God’s beloved children when that stranger feels threatening to us because of what they are saying or how they are acting. That doesn’t mean we have to agree or accept their claims or actions but perhaps a little empathy and understanding would help. Jesus does tell us after all, that all of God’s desires for us are based on the commandment for us to love our neighbor.

In their grief at Jesus’ death, the disciples Cleopas and his unnamed companion also fail to recognize Christ in the stranger on the road to Emmaus (Luke, chapter 24). It’s only through the breaking of bread, sitting down to share a meal together, that they recognize Jesus in the stranger they’ve been spending all day with. It’s not just in church that we find the risen Christ, the presence of God. It’s in our every day activities, walking and eating, where we encounter something Holy as we enter into relationship with those we meet along the way. We come together as church communities to experience the Divine but it is only the beginning of the experience.

Christ is in the stranger we see on the street and at the store.

And in the grocery store clerk who still has to report to work in the middle of a pandemic.
And in the nurse caring for patients in an over-taxed health care system.
And in the homeless person who has nowhere to stay home in.
And in the single mother who lost her job because her employer had to shut down.
And in the protestor who out of fear or denial demands everything be returned to “normal.”

There are times when we too are disappointed that life hasn't turned out the way we wanted or expected, when it feels like our hopes have been dashed and life, and God, have not lived up to our expectations. Often we are too caught up in our lives, sometimes in disappointment and sadness but also just in the busyness of living, to recognize Christ and the love of God. The good news, though, is that Christ walks with us even when we don’t recognize him. Christ is still there, sharing our stories, our grief, and our pain. Then, in the breaking of bread together, in some unexpected intimate glimpse of humanity, we finally recognize Christ in the stranger. We are suddenly turned in a new direction, seeing and understanding in a new way.

What would it mean for us today if we learned to see Christ, to see the Divine, in everyone we met? In those who are oppressed or needy? In those who we don't like very much? In someone we disagree with, who doesn't hold our political, ethical, or religious views? In someone who doesn't like us or what we stand for? If we can see the Divine in people who are “other” to us, I think the world could not help but be a less violent, more peaceful, more caring place. How could we bomb or let die that which is precious and holy to us? It seems like our world right now is at such opposite ends with no middle ground but how could we be so rude or angry or violent with those who are different than us or disagree with us, if we could truly understand that they too are precious and holy?

Pastor Ken

P.S. This reflection is inspired by the sermon from April 26, 2020, “Recognizing Jesus.” A recording of this and most other sermons can be found online at


Due to the ongoing guidelines regarding the current COVID-19 pandemic, all Phoenix Community Church in-person activities are suspended until further notice. We are not closed, we’ve just moved online for now. We look forward to the day, hopefully soon, when we can resume in-person gatherings. In the meantime, it’s best for everyone if we do what we can to keep each other healthy. It’s difficult being apart so let’s try to keep in touch with each other via phone, text, etc. That is especially important for those who aren’t able to join the online gatherings. Thank you for your continued patience and support!

Book Study has started a new book, “Shameless: A Case for Not Feeling Bad About Feeling Good (About Sex),” by Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber. Please join us online at 3:30 pm on Thursdays for reading and discussion. We read together during the meeting so there is no need to buy the book if you don’t want to.

Steering Committee will meet on Friday, May 15, at 7 pm via Zoom (Note that this is a change. The meeting was originally scheduled for May 8). Anyone is welcome to attend. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.

Join us for Spirit Talk on May 18 at 7 pm. We’ll meet online via Zoom for this more 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.

The Timid Poet Open Mic tentatively scheduled for May 29 has been canceled. We may do something online instead, but that hasn’t been decided yet.

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:


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

For May please remember:

  • First Congregational Church, Kalamazoo, MI, and Revs. Nathan Dannison and Sarah Schmidt-Lee.

  • Portage UCC, Portage, Michigan, and Revs. Mary Kay Schueneman and Kyle Tade.

  • UCC Clergy serving churches outside the UCC: Rev. Julie Kline (First United Methodist Church, Kalamazoo) and Rev. Ruth Moerdyk (Skyridge Church of the Brethren, Kalamazoo)

Also remember and pray:

  • 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 and health care workers

  • For hospitals, that they may receive the supplies they need

  • For those whose jobs have been lost

  • For those that continue to work and are thus more at-risk, such as grocery store staff

  • For those who are struggling to feel connected to others

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

  • For churches and their leaders struggling to be community in new ways

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:

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: 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.

Sundays, 6 pm: Worship (online via Zoom)

Thursdays, 3:30 pm: Book Study (online via Zoom)

Friday, May 8: 7 pm, Steering Committee (online via Zoom)
Monday, May 18: 7 pm, Spirit Talk (online via Zoom)
Monday, June 1: 7 pm, Spirit Talk (online via Zoom)

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