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The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, July 17, 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

Fear, anger, greed, resentment… these are passions which can drive us apart, which make us suspicious and estrange us from each other and from God. We might even call them the passions of injustice because they send us into a me-first way of thinking, forgetting about God’s commandment to love our neighbors and even our enemies. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, says we can follow these passions and serve injustice or we can serve God and righteousness. There’s really no other option. We’re always doing one or the other.
 

When we are ruled by the anti-social passions of fear, anger, etc. we become instruments or tools of injustice. We can see how easy it is to give into the passions of injustice. We’re constantly bombarded with messages that increase our fear and make us angry and resentful. We see it in politics: the demonization of immigrants and asylum seekers for example. We’re lied to and told they’re all criminals in order to manipulate us, to make us fearful and angry. And so we become a people that accepts the caging of children – we become tools of injustice, which leads to death, a spiritual death, and all too often a physical death for the victims of that injustice.
 

What if, when we were fearful or angry, we turned to God and what we might call the passions of justice: love, generosity, and forgiveness? What if, instead of separating immigrant families and putting children in cages, we actually helped those families stay together and find better lives than what they were running from? What if we turned to compassion and generosity instead of fear and anger? Paul tells us we have a choice: if we want to move from death to life, then stop serving injustice and become a servant to justice, to righteousness in God. One way we can do this is through welcoming others.
 

Christ can be found in all of God’s children. We are sent to each other, to learn from and care for each other. Do we welcome the prophet and the justice-seeker and therefore welcome God into our midst? Or do we turn them away out of our fear and therefore continue to serve injustice? Elsewhere Jesus teaches us that how we treat the least of these, that is, those in need, is how we treat Jesus himself. How do we treat the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who suffer the daily oppressions of racism? How do we treat the poor who can’t afford health care? How do we treat the immigrant who flees to escape violence? How do we treat the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people who are ostracized and discriminated against? They are the prophets, the truth-tellers, and justice-seekers of our day.
 

We can welcome them by listening to their stories, by helping them find justice, by stopping our service to the passions of injustice: fear, anger, greed, and resentment. We welcome these prophets and justice-seekers by instead living out of the passions of justice: trust, love, generosity, and forgiveness. We create a grander, more inclusive welcome in our lives when we care for each other, and especially those in need, respecting and loving them as God’s beloved children, as our sisters and brothers.
 

What do we choose: Death or life? Injustice or justice? Selfishness or compassion? Every day we have to make that choice. What shall we choose today? Will we welcome the prophets and justice-seekers? Will we ourselves become prophets and justice-seekers, healing and proclaiming the kin-dom of God in harmony with the Divine?
 

Blessings,
Rev. Ken Arthur
 

Note: This reflection is inspired by the sermon, “Death to Life,” from June 26, 2020. This and other sermons can be heard at https://phoenixchurch.org/home/phx-sermons/.

 

When can 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! We also have our picnic tomorrow and will try to plan another outdoor activity for August. Thank you for your continued patience and support!
 

Time for a Summer Picnic! Everyone is invited (weather permitting) to a socially-distanced picnic at 5 pm on Saturday, July 18, at the church. Please bring lawn chairs, your own plates and utensils, and a food dish to share. Burgers, hot dogs, and veggie burgers for grilling will be supplied. Everyone is also asked to make sure we keep our distances and wear face coverings (when we’re not eating) as we are still in the middle of a pandemic.
 

Join us for Spirit Talk on Monday, July 20, 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.
 

Book study for July 23 is cancelled. We will resume reading “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” by James Cone on July 30, meeting via Zoom at 3:30 pm.
 

Pastor Ken will be on vacation from July 20 through July 27. If you need assistance while the pastor is unavailable, contact a peer minister or our moderator, Angie Willard.
 

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

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.

 

A Service of Installation for Rev. Mike Tupper will be held at 2 pm on Sunday, August 2, at First Congregational Church in South Haven. Mike will be officially installed as their Associate Pastor. Please note that although this is an in-person service, we are still in a pandemic and everyone is asked to take appropriate precautions (masks, 6 feet apart, etc.).
 

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 July please remember:

  • First Congregational Church, Athens, MI, and their leadership, Deb Brandt and John Blaskie

  • St. John's UCC, Watervliet, MI, and Pastor Dani Veenstra

  • Association Council: Rev. Caroline Meyers, Moderator; Rev. Mary Beth Moran Cross, Vice Moderator; Rev. Adam Bohland, Secretary; Ms. Kristi Blythe, Treasurer; Rev. Ken Arthur, Registrar; Rev. Ruth Moerdyk, Liaison to MI Board of Directors and SWA Search & Call Minister; and Ms. Melanie Johnson, Member-At- Large
     

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.
 

Sundays, 6 pm: Worship online
Thursdays, 3:30 pm: Book Study online (except July 23)

Saturday, July 18: 5 pm, Summer Picnic @ 2208 Winchell
Monday, July 20: 7 pm, Spirit Talk online
Sunday, Aug 2: 2 pm, Installation Service for Rev. Mike Tupper @ FCC, South Haven
Monday, Aug 3: 7 pm, Spirit Talk online
Friday, Aug 14: 7 pm, Steering Committee online
 
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