FILM SCREENING: Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church

Sunday, April 9, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm, The Park

THE PARK TO HOST SCREENING OF LGBT CHURCH DOCUMENTARY, CO-SPONSORED BY UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

All are welcomed to attend a public screening of the acclaimed BET.com documentary, HOLLER IF YOU HEAR ME: BLACK AND GAY IN THE CHURCH.  This one-hour film chronicles the lives of queer black men and women who express their journey with faith and sexuality. Produced by Clay Cane, HOLLER IF YOU HEAR ME offers a wonderful point of departure for our post-doc panel discussion focused on the role and function of masculinity in predominately black sacred spaces.  Joining us for the discussion will be Indiana University Professor Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones, Dr. Tony McNeill, Artist-in-Residence at The Park, and Minister Charles Anthony Bryant, Minister of Music, First Corinthian Baptist Church of NYC.  Dr. McNeill and Min. Bryant are profiled in the documentary.

Plan to join us!  Light refreshments will be served in the Sanctuary of Park Avenue Christian Church. This event is free and open to the public.

“We Make too Much of this Poor Life” – Lenten Reflection for March 28 by Matt Fitzgerald

March 28

“Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals.” Psalm 146:3

Jesus is demanding. Grace brings stitches, but it will cut you first. So we look for God in easier places.

Liberals find God in natural beauty, as if the One walking toward Golgotha and my lakeside vacation are the same. We’ve made God so tame.

Conservatives find God in the Bible, as if they could smell His breath by getting close enough.

In both cases we take something controllable and turn it into God. We aren’t two camps. We’re two wings on the same bird, flying away from Christ and his intensity.

God is not scripture, creation, politics, success, pleasure, beauty, art, church, family, the pursuit of social justice, or anything else that we grant ultimate significance. None of those things are God.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t wonderful. Smart people worship good idols. But even the best false god gets crushed when saddled with colossal expectations. There is love that only God can give. My family is too frail to carry it.

Name what you’ve made more important than God. Take the weight off its shoulders and it might stand up a little taller.

Let beauty be beauty, don’t worship it. Let your family be your family, don’t expect everything from them. Let work be work, don’t let it define you. Let our nation be our nation, not something to kill for.

Let life be what it is: a beautiful gift full of trouble, days of joy and contradiction, expiring in our hands. Life isn’t everything. We shouldn’t try to wring eternity from existence.

If we can find the faith to hold the reins lightly, the ride might get lively. As Charles Spurgeon says, “We make too much of this poor life, and this fondness costs us dear.”

Prayer

Dear Lord, forgive our overburdened gods. Then let them leap to life.

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United Church of Christ Stillspeaking Devotional Published by Pilgrim Press. Shared with permission of the publisher.

SERMON ON VIDEO: Rabbi Jordie Gerson on building the Mishkan, the Tabernacle

“Build something bigger and bolder. Build because people have turned away from boldness, from radical acceptance because they were afraid. Just build. Build today because not everyone can, not everyone has the resources, because building is a privilege not open to everyone: people of color, people in danger, trans people, women…build for all of us.  Build so that God’s presence will come into our midst, as we truly come into each others.”

Sponsor a Chair and Help Make The Park a More Welcoming Sanctuary Than Ever!

Park Avenue Christian Church 201Dear Friend,

As part of our ongoing work to restore and beautify Park Avenue Christian Church we will be purchasing and installing new chairs that will transform the appearance of our church and enable all who use it to be more comfortable and supplement the seating capacity for services and community events.

This can only be made possible through the generous support we have received from members of The Park community like you. This year we are specifically seeking sponsorships to fund the purchase and installation of our new chairs.

This is where we hope you can help us.

You and/or your family can sponsor a chair that will be adorned with a plaque that honors your sponsorship. Sponsoring a chair is a great way in which you can help The Park in its life and ministry, and to be part of its future. You may choose to dedicate your sponsorship to the memory of or in honor of somebody you love.  We will send you a commemorative photo of the chair with the plaque you have sponsored by email.

We hope that you will be able to join us in supporting the refreshment of our sanctuary in any way you can. We are specifically seeking donations of $500 per chair but other options are available in the listing below. Whatever you can give, we will still highly appreciate your support.  In church, you can use the return envelope provided to send a Check (Payable to “Park Avenue Christian Church”).  Or  you can donate online at http://www.parkavenuechristian.com/chairs/.  You can also make other payment arrangements by calling our office at 212.288.3246.

If you would like to support the project but can only donate a small amount, this will be equally welcome.

We will be grateful for any support you can give.

Thank you!
Yours Faithfully,
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The Rev. Kaji Dousa

PS. If it has been a while since you have worshiped with us, we would love to see you on a Sunday at 11 am. If you would like to speak to me or to have a visit, know that we have the time, energy and interest to know you well. Meanwhile, know that you are loved by a church that is having a wonderful time following Jesus in New York City.

“Diving Deeply” – Lenten Reflection for March 27 by Donna Schaper

March 27

“A voice from heaven said…Saul, why do you persecute me?” Acts 9:4-5

I live a very safe life and am white enough to trust the police. That being said, I often feel persecuted. My persecution is called trivialization  I putter my piety. I neglect the divine on behalf of the immediate. I play penultimate, not ultimate Frisbee. I stay in the shallows. I keep God alive in my heart only to forget about what God might want from me on a regular basis. That is a version of spiritual privilege. I know I am baptized and blessed with the deep water of Jesus’ Christianity. I know where I’m supposed to live. I just don’t get there most days, most of the time. That is what it means to be a generalist at religion, an amateur at faith, and a second stringer spiritually. I get to play in the game after the others have already won it. I feel more than a little persecuted by the heavy demands of faith and the great shallowness of not knowing what to have for dinner.

I have been thinking of adopting a nickname — Rip Van Twinkle—which would allow me to dive more deeply into my days. Rip came back after twenty years’ sleep and found that everything had changed.

I woke up one day and realized that I had become old. I woke up one day and realized that most of my life was over. Instead of diving deeply, I had been sticking my toes in one shallow pool after another. Why, God asks me, did I consent to persecution of the divine? I didn’t really consent. I just fell asleep.

Prayer

Spirited Jesus, during this Lent let us realize we were offered twinkle and took temptations instead. Help us.

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United Church of Christ Stillspeaking Devotional Published by Pilgrim Press. Shared with permission of the publisher.

Easter is Coming and Time for Easter Lilies!

 

For Easter Sunday and Sundays following Easter we would like to fill the sanctuary with lilies. Park members and friends are cordially invited to assist in this effort by donating lilies in memory or in honor of special people. Envelopes are also available in the pews should you wish to make a gift to help defray the cost of seasonal decorations. Donations large and small are welcome; we are joyfully grateful for your participation.

The cost for each lily is $35.00. The lilies will remain in the Sanctuary for several Sundays or if you would like to take your lily and share it with a sick-and-shut in, please let us know and feel free to do so.

When you donate lilies, please list the names of the persons you desire to remember or to honor. Also, indicate the number of lilies you are donating.

For questions or concerns, please call the church, (212) 288-3246, extension 102 or send email.

“The Enemy at the Table” – Lenten Reflection for March 26 by Vince Amlin

MArch 26

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies . . . .” Psalm 23:5a

There is a restaurant in Pittsburgh called Conflict Kitchen. Every few months the place changes its entire menu, but it always serves the cuisine of a country with which the United States is in conflict.

As I write this, the food of the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois Confederacy, is on offer. Diners can start with succotash, then move to cranberry and juniper braised venison, and wash it down with Okdeahgi’, a root tea. They can also hear Haudenosaunee “perspectives on Indigenous sovereignty, economic and environmental conflict, and cultural erasure.”

I’ve always heard the words of Psalm 23 as a comforting invitation to a familiar feast. But what if I am the enemy at the table?

I think of the confusion and self-consciousness of sitting down to a meal I don’t know how to eat. My first time negotiating crawfish or tamales. The discomfort of eating with my hands on low stools at an Ethiopian restaurant. The embarrassment of chewing on an edamame pod for minutes until I realized I was only supposed to eat the beans.

Looking in on the table of my enemy, I may see God’s grace received through dishes I cannot even pronounce. De-centering my own experience, I may recognize God’s goodness and mercy served with utensils I don’t know how to use.

And if I am lucky enough to be invited by my enemy to sit down at her table, and wise enough to humbly eat the food of her heart, what mystery may I learn about dwelling in God’s house my whole life long?

Prayer

Strange One, fill my cup with an unfamiliar grace. Show me your greatness, overflowing my bounds.

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United Church of Christ Stillspeaking Devotional Published by Pilgrim Press. Shared with permission of the publisher.