Celebrating Juneteenth

“The Ethiopian Eunuch by Lauren Wright Pittman”

Kindred in Christ,

As we continue our Pride Month series, Building a Church Without Walls, we will also honor Juneteenth in various segments of our worship gathering this coming Sunday! Along with our country, we celebrate this national holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in our country and reminds us to continue the work of dismantling white supremacy and oppression in all its forms.

To help us reflect deeper on these themes, we will consider the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-39). While not given a name in the book of Acts, he is referred to as Qinaqis in many African traditions. Biblical scholars, such as Rev. Dr. Mona West, point out that by the time of Jesus, the term “eunuch” had become a way to refer to various “sexual minorities” in that culture, and eunuchs were excluded from temple worship. Yet, Qinaqis comes to a point where he boldly asks, “Look! Water! What would keep me from being baptized?”

Above is a depiction of Qinaqis embracing his baptism—a grace-filled symbol that reminds us that we are all equal and free in God. Even in the face of religious and political systems that seek to deny our humanity, may we remember our baptisms and participate in the ever-flowing stream of Divine freedom in our lives.

Alongside you,

Rev. Paul Ortiz

Happy Pride Month! 

Happy Pride Month! ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🖤🤎
Pride often gets a bad rap in religious spaces, yet being proud of our gender identity, sexual orientation, and ethnicity can help us connect deeper with ourselves, others, and God. Check out this video where Pastor Paul helps us reflect on the importance of being proud of who God created us to be.

Building a Church Without Walls

We are excited to celebrate the move of the Spirit and God’s image in the LGBTQIA+ community with our series Building a Church Without Walls! Join us as we explore how to live deeper into the gospel’s bold vision of inclusion and love. You can join us online or in person. RSVP for in-person HERE

From Prayers to Action

Kindred in Christ,

This past week, as I sat in the grief of another mass shooting, this time in Robb Elementary in Uvalde, TX, I once again saw a similar argument on my social media feed. As people mourned the violent massacre that took the lives of 19 Latinx children and two teachers, I saw some people offer their “thoughts and prayers,” and others insist that prayers are not what is needed, rather we need (they insisted) immediate changes to our policies.

Sadly, prayer in our culture often becomes the end of action, rather than just the beginning. Prayer, as people point out, becomes as a way of feeling like we did something about pain in the world, rather than actually doing something that helps bring change. But what if prayer was meant to be so much more?

I actually find this popular form of prayer not only a disservice to those who are most hurt in our world, but a disservice to the real intent of prayer. For prayer is supposed to open us up to a God that will ask us to take action (through voting, organizing, and acts of compassion) and live in a way that helps our prayers for justice to become a reality in our communities.

I am reminded of the words of Oswald Chambers, “To say that ‘prayer changes things’ is not as close to the truth as saying, ‘prayer changes me and then I change things.” May we open ourselves up to the God who is with us in the heartache of this world and is transforming us into agents of God’s love in action.

Alongside you,

Rev. Paul Ortiz

Between Grief and Joy

Kindred in Christ,

After missing a couple of weeks due to being sick, and then recovering just in time for my week-long family vacation in Hawaii (see some photos above), I am excited to be back with you and preaching this Sunday! A big thank you to all who stepped in and stepped up while I was away. I am thankful in particular to Rev. Judy Schultz, Leo Pacheco, Chris Vincent, Graham Whitehouse, and Dave Campbell for helping our worship services continue in meaningful ways.

This Sunday we will reflect on the transitional spaces that we often find ourselves in, especially during this pandemic, between grief and joy, between losing the things that used to ground us and embracing the new thing that God is bringing about in our lives. By considering Mary Madelene’s encounter with the resurrected Christ (John 20:11-18), we will explore the importance of mourning the past while welcoming the future—a pattern central to the disciple’s encounter with the resurrected Christ. I hope you will join us as we continue in our series Made New.

Alongside you,

Rev. Paul Ortiz