Dear U Park Family,
Over the past year, I’ve heard from number of people about their sense of hopelessness. The pandemic, our country’s political bitterness, environmental destruction, the ongoing agony of racism, and much of the news from around the globe can paint a picture of a world in decline. I’m not certain that’s the most realistic understanding of our situation. But even if it is, those painful realities in the news can also conceal the ways that God is at work.
This weekend, our worship will focus on words from the prophet Ezekiel. Even by the standards of ancient Hebrew prophecy, with its arcane visions and lurid symbolism, Ezekiel is in a class of bizarre all his own. After the destruction of Jerusalem, the loss of the sacred temple and the exile of Israel’s rulers and military, Ezekiel is also enraged, and his prophetic oracles show it. But beneath the anger and the weird imagery (some of it not suitable for church), Ezekiel makes a helpful point about hope and despair. In the vision we’ll read on Sunday, Ezekiel is led to a valley full of dry bones, the remains of long-dead warriors. He hears God’s voice asking him, “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel responds with the Ancient Hebrew version of “God only knows.” “You know, O Lord,” he says. And then he watches in amazement as the bones begin to assemble into skeletons, to grow sinews and flesh and skin, to breathe and stand.
Ezekiel doesn’t cause this mass resurrection. He just witnesses it. Perhaps it’s a reminder to us that nothing is impossible, that God is always working toward new life. I hope you’ll join us for worship this Sunday on our YouTube channel – our last online only worship before we gather in person on May 30!
We’re talking about revitalization and renewal this weekend because Sunday is Pentecost – the day that’s often called “the birth of the church.” There’s a great deal of renewal to celebrate this year, especially the fact that we will be confirming five young people on Sunday. Our confirmands started their classes in January, and have been meeting for two hours on Zoom (!) each Sunday since. Rahdearra Paris Woods, our Director of Journeys in Faith, adapted the normal confirmation process so that the class could be conducted online. Each confirmand has worked with an adult mentor from our congregation. They’ve done homework and even written a beautiful confirmation class creed that will be part of our worship on Sunday. Confirmation is one of my favorite moments in the life of the church; it reminds us of the new life and hope taking shape in our faith community.
The next few weeks will be both sad and celebratory, as we say goodbye to Rahdearra and wish her well in the next chapter of her ministry. She has contributed tremendously to the life of our congregation. In addition to her work with children and youth, she’s done a lot behind the scenes without seeking any recognition or credit. Rah’s last Sunday in church will be June 13, and she’ll be preaching the two Sundays before. We’ll have a basket at church for cards and well wishes; if you’d like to add yours, you’re welcome to drop it by or to mail it to her at the church: 2180 S. University Blvd, Denver, CO 80210.
May you discover new life and hope this springtime – I hope to see you in worship soon!
Grace and Peace,