Sunday Sermon Preview: “Lean In,” by Rev. Dr. Peter Heltzel

Dear Friends of The Park

Living the Christian life in New York City is difficult. Many move to the Big Apple to seek fame and fortune, but may end up broke and broken-hearted.  We are all struggling to survive.  Sometimes the struggle seems like more than we can bear. Yet, the Scriptures call us to carry on and hold each other up in the power of the Spirit.

The struggle for survival in NYC is particularly acute for women, as they seek success. Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government, business and the church.  This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead author Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, analyzes why women struggle for senior leadership roles today and argues that they need to “lean in” to achieve their full potential.

When we look at Holy Scripture, Deborah stands out as a woman who leaned in and stepped up to lead the people of Israel. Deborah was a mighty judge, who adjudicated very difficult problems among the people of Israel. One day she asked a Barak, a strong military commander to lead the army into battle, for God had declared to her that they would be victorious. Yet, Barak did not want to go to battle without Deborah by his side. Deborah leaned in to any fears she might have had, and they rode into battle together. While they were victorious in battle, another woman named Jael became a leader in this struggle. Sometimes when we lean into leadership, we open up the opportunity for others to “lean in” to leadership too.  For her compassionate and courageous leadership, Deborah was called “the mother of Israel” (Judges 23:37). What can we learn from Deborah about leadership today? How can we reconcile her leadership emerging in the context of a war with brutal violence? How do we respond to the victims of violence today?  What does she teach about God who is our loving mother?  These are some of the questions I will consider, as we look to Deborah as a leader who leaned in.  Whatever you are struggling with, be you female or male, bring it to The Park and we will examine the Scriptures together to learn how to lean in to our struggle, so we can find true surrender to our God and the movement for love and justice.

Look forward to breaking the bread of God’s Word with you on Sunday!

Readings on Sunday: Judges 4; 5:7, 24-27 & John 14:1-14

Peace,
Rev. Dr. Peter Heltzel