Formation Resources: A Beloved Community

by: 
Bob Scott, Kathryn Carroll, Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

Contemplative photo by Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

It happens to me when I’m on vacation, even after a three-day weekend, and especially right now in our present discombobulation — that I sometimes have to check my phone for the day and date. That’s why I’m grateful that my work includes the cycles of the liturgical year. Even though we’re often working ahead by weeks or months, the Lectionary provides a sort of internal, or primal, rhythm that centers me, or rocks me on the waves of our human story — in God’s space and time. As we ask in Godly Play, “I wonder which part of the story is most about you?” “I wonder which part of the story we could leave out, and still have all of the story?”

Every Sunday, you are invited into the story, and we hope that these resources help you to wonder along…

Kathryn Carroll
Interim Program Manager, Children & Families

 


 


This Sunday
 

To prepare for Sunday, see this week’s readings.

 


Adult Learning 
 


Contemplative photo by Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

What Do We Owe One Another?

Bob Scott

Do you remember earlier this summer when we looked at the word apocalypse? Today it connotes “disaster.” Originally it meant “revelation” or “unveiling.” When Jesus says to be brave, because “nothing is covered up that won’t be uncovered” (Matthew 10:26), he uses the word apokaluptó.

This morning I scanned the newspaper headlines and found what feels like a daily apocalypse: “COVID19 reveals inequities in…” Fill in the blank: healthcare, economics, education, law enforcement, representation. You name it, we’re learning more about it, and a lot of what we’re seeing disturbs us. For those who are left out by the inequities of the system, it’s a public confirmation of crushingly familiar experiences without any promise of redress. For those who benefit from the imbalances… Well, what is it? An inconvenient truth? A reproach? A wake-up call?

Our response to these revelations will depend on how we answer the question Paul addresses in this week’s epistle: What do we owe one another?

He makes a profoundly simple statement in Romans 13:8: “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” When Paul says “the law,” he means the commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. They were meant as a guide for how to live together as a people who love God and neighbor.

If the ancient Israelites had the law, how do we know what we owe one another today? The big, societal questions are both important and urgent. To address them, though, we need to look at ourselves and our relationships. In today’s gospel, Jesus teaches an approach to dealing with personal conflict that’s rooted in a strong sense of community. It assumes that we owe one another our best efforts at reconciliation. It’s based on truth telling and listening. It acknowledges that, no matter how sincerely we try, we may not get there. But try we must, because our personal conflicts have cosmic significance (“whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven”).

If our debt to one another is love, how do we pay it? What currency will we use? Here’s my list: Listening, even when resistance kicks in. Respect for experiences that differ from my own. Willingness to speak difficult truths. Searching faithfully for a way to say yes, while being prepared, for the sake of truth and integrity, to say no.

I admit that my list is incomplete, even as I acknowledge that I’m in arrears on many of these items, if not all. I pray for the wisdom to catch up on my accounts and to expand my understanding. What’s on your list?

 


Adult Practice
 


Contemplative photo by Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

An Evening Prayer

Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

Fill us with your Spirit, Divine Beloved,
as we lift our hearts to You this night.
Guide us in the morning light,
to walk in your way,
and to tell the truth,
to ourselves and to others,
about whether we are actually 
on the path of Love.
May we incarnate the world 
that we deeply desire and long for 
through loving action in our daily lives, 
in our families and partnerships, 
in our communities and connections,
for the Family of God 
and for all of God’s creation. Amen.

 


Children and Families
 


Contemplative photo by Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

Staying in the Room

Kathryn Carroll

So…is God present in conflict as well as in peace? This has been a summer of discontent with much sound and fury, but has it signified anything? Some people feel that our “freedom,” comfort, and peace was only recently disrupted; first, by politicized grievance-manufacturing, to the more recent and real pandemic and a more universal outrage over chronic racial injustice. All this while, many others had never known anything that resembled freedom, comfort, or peace. But they went unheard. Why are these voices that were once hiding or silenced being heard now? Are we listening?

After months at home and less-divided family time, we are all facing the prospect of rejoining public life, separate from our friend or family pods. Things will look unfamiliar. Personal safety and common good have become more interdependent. We may feel less in control than ever. We may feel the weight of personal responsibility more than ever. And we’ll probably be more aware of those who are ill-equipped for any of it. And yet, every family and every individual will face all of it from their own, unique vantage point, including our children.

Parents, as tough as this is for you, and I know it feels excruciating at times, I think that we have an opportunity to not only mitigate long-term trauma for children, but to equip our youngest generation to become more resilient, more resourceful, and more civic-minded than their predecessors. A Beloved Community could be in their hands because it is within our grasp.

In the Gospel today, Matthew 18:15–20, Jesus lays out a strategy for conflict resolution in his beloved community. The passage ends with the well-known phrase, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” We often reference this phrase when we’re talking about conducting worship or other church gatherings. But in context of the rest of the scripture, I hear something a bit different. I think Jesus is saying that we can only grow in love — together. No matter our differences, we have to stay in the room. We have to listen. We have to hear each other.

Family Worship: Home Edition

See Family Worship: Home Edition to see this week’s activity for children and families.

 


Song of the Week
 

Each week, we’re sharing a song of the week to help you go deeper with each Sunday’s theme. The playlist will be updated weekly, and the song of the week will sit on top.