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Thoughts from Pastor Dan

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the Sabbath, they were watching him closely…He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid.  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” –Luke 14:1, 12-14, NRSV

 

Luke’s gospel, more than any other, highlights the importance of food sharing, banquets, and parties (which is a big reason why Luke is my favorite gospel).  At this dinner gathering, Jesus is the unlikely guest giving some even more unlikely advice: “When you host a meal like this, don’t invite the usual suspects.  Instead, invite those who are typically out of sight and mind for you, mainly because they are out of sight and mind for our society.”  Potent counsel from the guest for whom are called to make room in our hearts and minds each and every day.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

Today’s midweek devotional is offered by Rev. Mary Wilson, Pastor of Church of the Savior, Austin.  Along with other clergy and laity from the churches that attended the National Youth Event with our Friends Church youth group, Rev. Wilson paid a visit to the standing memorial at Pulse nightclub in Orlando on July 28th.  She shared her reflection on that sacred morning with her local Hill Country News, our UCC’s South Central Conference e-newsletter, and today with our Friends Congregational Church family.

 

I recently attended a national youth event in Orlando, Florida.  Although not particularly convenient, I took the time with three other adults to visit the Pulse nightclub, site of the single largest mass shooting in our history. 

 

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Today's Midweek Message is from Rev. Dr. Don Longbottom, our Designated Conference Minister for the South Central Conference of the United Church of Christ.

Rev. Longbottom will be preaching this Sunday,  Aug 14, 2016.   Don't miss this opportunity to meet Rev. Longbottom.

Here's a little more about our new Designated Conf. Minister

 

 

Dare To Forgive: A Devotational

 

I love the story of the little boy whose dad happens to be a minister so he is well versed in scripture.  The boy and his mother have been shopping and little Mikey has been misbehaving.  You know the drill.  Demanding this and that, running off, being a general pain.  They are driving home and little Mikey, sensing mom’s displeasure says.

 

“When we ask God to forgive us, He does, doesn’t He?”

“Yes God forgives.”

“And when God forgives us, He buries our sins in the deepest sea, right mom?”

“Yes, that is what the bible says.”

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

Today’s midweek devotional is from Sunday’s (7/31) sermon, “Withholding What We Believe,” which reflects on the youth group’s experiences at the United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ’s National Youth Event (NYE) last week in Orlando, Florida.

 

The theme of NYE was “Believe.”  At our first worship service, the youth were invited to answer this simple question: What do you believe?  Here are some of the responses they tweeted in response… 

I believe we are loved unconditionally.

I believe that God created and loves all people, and all means all.

I believe life is hard but we can get through it.

I believe youth are not the future of the church.  Youth are the church right now!

I believe that I am more than me.

I believe that Black lives matter.

I believe that despite all the problems that happen today, the world is still a good and beautiful place.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

Today’s devotional originally appeared in Saturday’s “Faith and Values” section of The Eagle

 

The stranger sat on his motorcycle in our church parking lot, never taking his helmet off.  From inside the building, I watched him aim his Smartphone at the church and then busily tap on the device.  After a few minutes, I walked outside to approach him.  The stranger looked up at me apprehensively.  “Are you playing Pokémon Go?” I asked.  He squinted happily.  “Yeah,” he replied.  And from there the two strangers, who otherwise might never speak to each other, had a friendly conversation.

 

Our church is a “Pokémon Gym” on the newly released, location-based game, where players find virtual creatures in the real world.  It’s brought a slew of Pokémon players our way; unlikely guests from all walks of life.  Yet, thanks to a virtual reality game, here we are: strangers engaging each other in actual human conversation across our societal differences.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

It’s been one year today since Sandra Bland, a Black woman pulled over for a minor traffic offense and then arrested, was found inexplicably dead in her cell at the Waller County Jail.  For the last few days, activists steadfastly demanding justice for Bland’s unfathomable death have been holding vigil outside the jail where she spent her final hours.  An image of Bland is projected onto the wall of the jail during the night, and at daybreak supporters observe Holy Communion together, honoring justice for Sandra Bland by remembering Christ.

 

Not being able to camp out at the jail but still wanting to be present in some supportive way, a couple of church members and I took a few water bottles left over from the “Pride, Peace, Prayers for Orlando” vigil last month, loaded them into a large cooler of ice, and headed to the jail yesterday afternoon.  We figured that with the sun beating down on the people camped outside the jail, at least we could bring them some cold water.

 

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Dear Church Family,

A friend of mine put something on Snapchat where she wrote over a completely black image, “No matter what you’re going through, it can’t stop where God is taking you.” At first it sounded terribly close to one of the ten clichés that the religion and spirituality site Patheos suggests Christians stop saying: “God never gives us more than we can handle.” But “what you’re going through” doesn’t imply that God is some mythological character steering every situation and circumstance toward our ultimate fate. There are pitfalls in life—to put it mildly—but God is our ever-present help in the storms as well as the sunshine of today, tomorrow, and the ever after, not the calculating puppeteer of “what you’re going through.” And where God is taking us was, is, and evermore shall be the Shalom of peace.

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Dear Church Family,

 

When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” –John 20:22

 

And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. –Acts 2:2

 

Greetings from Waco, Texas, where the 13 youth and 4 adult volunteers from Friends Church are on a mission trip with five other youth groups from Austin through an organization called Mission Waco.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

 

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words frighten children into the closet.”  These were the words she cried into a microphone that were received by a sea of snapping fingers, affirming moans, and vehement head nods.  She was one of many poets who courageously took the stage at Revolutions in Bryan on Sunday night for “Mic Check Poetry Presents: LGBTQ+ Vigil & Voices.”

 

The gathering of some 200 people celebrated Pride Month, but the celebration was overshadowed by lament.  After the shootings in Orlando that claimed the lives of 49 LGBTQ persons and allies, and injured 53 others, the spirit of the gathering was one of anger and sorrow, providing sanctuary for so many who feel justifiably under fire.

 

The first round of poets was a “closed list specifically for LGBTQ+ individuals.”  This was a time and space in which this straight Gen X Christian pastor was invited to shut up and listen.  I embraced that unspoken mandate.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

In response to the announcement about a prayer vigil happening at our church due to the horrific shooting in Orlando, a Facebook friend of mine posted a frustrated sentiment: “Holding a vigil is a nice gesture, but it does nothing to prevent another massacre.  We need stronger gun control laws!”  While I don’t dispute my friend’s cry for us to get a better grip on the ridiculous amount of mass shootings in our country, I still believe that holding a prayer vigil goes a million miles in that effort of preventing future violence.

 

The Apostle Paul instructs the Romans, “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”  The patterns of this world are predictable.  They’re easily swayed by divisive, fear-mongering tactics.  We are insecure about what we don't understand, be it the fact that our friend’s son has a boyfriend, or that our co-worker identifies as transgender and is visibly transitioning week by week, or that the parents of our child’s friend at the public school they both attend are undocumented immigrants, or that our neighbor down the street is Jewish and the family next door to us is Muslim.  How quickly our insecurities about our own ignorance make us uncomfortable and then morph into resentment and hatred at the sight of the first bumper sticker sentiment that “others” those who differ from us! 

 

This Week @ Friends (DP)

Sunday - Aug 28th

Aug
28


Wednesday - Aug 31st

Aug
31


7:00-pm 8:30-pm

Thursday - Sep 01st

Sep
1


5:00-pm 9:00-pm

Saturday - Sep 03rd

Sep
3


10:00-am 12:00-pm

Sunday - Sep 04th

Sep
4


9:15-am 10:15-am

Sep
4


10:30-am 11:45-am

Monday - Sep 05th

Sep
5


7:30-pm 8:30-pm