The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, May 14, 2021

A progressive Christian experience...
Welcoming and affirming the LGBTQ 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

This last year has been very difficult for most of us. We all know the long list of issues we’ve had to deal with: pandemic, racial injustice, division and political upheaval, economic and housing uncertainty, illness and grief, isolation, and on and on. And all of that at levels many of us have never experienced before. The Psalmist proclaims God is our shepherd, our protector and provider. The gospel of John tells us Jesus is the Good Shepherd, one who has come to lead us to abundant life. An abundant life isn’t an abundance of wealth or possessions but speaks to the quality of life. An abundant life is a life lived not in fear but in joy. It is a life of inner peace. No matter what we endure, it’s a life where we care for and support each other, where we know God’s loving presence is with us.

The image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd brings us a much needed reminder and assurance that with all we’ve been through and all we still have ahead of us, God is at our side, walking with us, feeling our pain, guiding us, and lending us the courage and strength we need to not only survive but to thrive. The Good shepherd also protects us so we can rest when we need to. What a wonderful promise! I know right now I’m feeling the need for rest, to give my worries, anxiety, and tiredness over to God and say “can you carry this for awhile?” Knowing our needs will be met and being able to rest, God leads us to a sense of peace so that our souls will be renewed and restored.

It can be tempting to think of Jesus’ flock as the good church-going folks, the “in” group who God favors. But Jesus reminds us of the “other sheep,” those not in our in-groups, the marginalized, the outsiders, those not like us, and he reminds us that these too are God’s beloved children. We are meant to be united in God’s love, to care for and support each other, to band together for the good of all. One “flock,” united in God’s love incarnate. For me, this image of the good shepherd, gathering his flocks to care for and love them, is immensely comforting. Often when I’m reflecting on scriptures like this, I also like to ask myself “what am I being called to do?” And of course, if Jesus is our model, then we too are called to be good shepherds, to gather and care for all of God’s children, no matter who they are or where they are in life.

And I believe that to be true. That is what we are called to do. But this week, I invite us to just know that it is ok to be a sheep once in a while. To stop and rest. To let our fears go. To give God’s goodness and mercy time to catch up to us. Sometimes we just need to say: Help me, God. Let me rest. Take my worries from me for just this moment. Restore my soul so that I can get up again and continue the journey. That is my invitation to all of us this week: To know that you are loved. That you are enough just as you are, that you are God’s beloved child and it’s ok to rest.

Rev. Ken Arthur

P.S. This reflection was inspired by the sermon from April 25, “The Good Shepherd” It can be viewed along with recordings of other past sermons at


Steering Committee’s next meeting is tonight, Friday, May 14, at 7 pm via Zoom. Anyone is welcome to attend. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.

The Book Study Group will begin a new book, “Thank God for Evolution,” by Michael Dowd, on May 20, 2021. We will also begin meeting in the evening, every Thursday from 6:30 pm until 8 pm via Zoom. Please join us for great discussion on how science and religion can fit together. We read together during the meeting so there is no need to buy the book if you don’t want to. Anyone is welcome to attend. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.

The Spirit Talk discussion group meets via Zoom at 7 pm EST on the first and third Mondays of the month for an open discussion regarding topics related to spirituality. The next meeting is Monday, May 17. Please contact the church office for the Zoom info if you would like to join in the discussions.

The ONA Team will meet via Zoom at 1 pm on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, to discuss future plans. Anyone is welcome to attend. The connection information is the same as for Sunday worship.

A return to in-person worship services is closer than ever! We are tentatively planning on returning to worship together in the sanctuary on Sunday, June 6. A final decision will be made at tonight’s Steering Committee meeting. We plan to have the option to attend services either in-person or via Zoom for those who are unsure or live at a distance. Details will be communicated to everyone next week.

The Rummage Sale scheduled for April was canceled due to rain. We hope to reschedule for later in the summer.

Pastor’s office hours are by appointment until further notice.


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:

  • Wide Awake UCC, Benton Harbor, MI, and Rev. Dr. Oscar Varnadoe.

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

  • Retired UCC Clergy: Rev. William Bertsch, Rev. Bob Braman, Rev. Dr. Deborah Kohler, Rev. Robert Manning, Rev. Caroline Meyers, Rev. Dr. David Moffett-Moore, Rev. Chris Noffke, Rev. Tom Ott, Rev. Robert Persenaire, Rev. John Peterson, Martha Schimmelpfenneg, Rev. Barb Van Eck, and Rev. Richard Warner

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:


Help support the church: 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

Thursdays, 6:30 pm: Book Study

One-Time Events

Friday, May 14: 7 pm, Steering Committee

Monday, May 17: 7 pm, Spirit Talk

Monday, June 7: 7 pm, Spirit Talk

Friday, June 11: 7 pm, Steering committee

Sunday, June 13: 7 pm, Congregational Meeting


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