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Thoughts from Pastor Dan

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

When the famous minister William Sloane Coffin’s son died in a severe weather-related car accident, he later reflected on his tragic loss and said, “I have learned that God provides minimum protection and maximum comfort.”  One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Psalm 99:11-12.  I’ve always heard it as an assurance of Divine protection: “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.  On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”  When a boy in our congregation was minutes away from having a tumor removed from his brain, I put my hand on his head and prayerfully spoke those words from the psalmist.  But are those words empty if, as Rev. Coffin testifies, God provides minimum protection?

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

Today’s midweek devotional will (hopefully) appear in Saturday’s Eagle.

 

I used to think the Psalm that says “be still and know that God is God” was meant to comfort me.  It was the holy insistence that my Rock and my Redeemer had everything under control, and I could rest assured in that carefree being.   I’ve discovered that Psalm to be more about an inward communion with God that leads to outward expressions of holiness extending beyond the parameters of what I think I am meant to be and do.

 

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Dear Church Family,

 

In the “Neighbors in Need” mission moment on September 28th, Stewardship Committee Chair Tom Vogel said, “This is a generous church.”  I bear witness to that affirmation.  As the purple t-shirt says, our barbecue event has been a tradition in the Brazos Valley for 30 years.  Part of that tradition has been fundraising for endeavors outside of our congregation that resonate with our church’s mission.  In years past, the barbecue has been a fundraiser for Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, and Slumber Falls Camp, the UCC encampment in New Braunfels.  Each year, the generosity of our congregation and friends of our church have provided enough money in ticket sales for the barbecue (and purchasing leftover brisket and sausage) to contribute net earnings to the endeavors we support.  After a two-year hiatus from our decades-old tradition, we discerned that it was time to shake it up a bit and widen the net of generosity.

 

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Dear Church Family,

 

Climate change is in the news lately.  The UN Climate Change Summit is taking place, prompting Climate Week in New York.  On Monday, tens of thousands of people marched through Manhattan demanding action.  President Obama announced plans to utilize executive powers to fight climate change.  Such global, unified action is good.  But climate change isn’t something that’s just a blip on our newsfeed this week; it’s on our hearts constantly and in our mind obsessively.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

 

In the sermon I preached last week, I ended the message with a question, “You worship a God of deliverance and salvation.  That is your faith.  What difference does it make?”  Faith is a gift.  If we do not utilize that gift with some measure of consistency, then, like any other gift, it becomes another of our possessions that is called out at the end of this life by the famous line from a classic play of the same name: “You can’t take it with you.”  Faith is not a possession we cling to and carry around for our own preservation.  It’s a gift that we use, by God’s grace, for the betterment of our neighbor and ourselves mutually.  It’s meant by its very nature to make a difference.

 

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Dear Church Family,

 

About 30 years ago, members of our now 35-year-old congregation were moving into a church building after holding worship services in school gyms and cafeterias.  The grounds around their new church home had no trees, so the congregation took it upon themselves to plant some and raise them from seed.  Those trees now pepper the grounds of Friends Congregational Church, providing shade and giving our children places to climb and play.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. –Matthew 18:18, NRSV

 

Let me start this midweek devotional with a shameless plug: Tonight our church is starting a midweek worship service, 6pm.  These Wednesday services hope to foster community building and faith formation.  In other words, in an environment of friendship and safety, we’re going to ask engaging questions and have open conversations together about God, et. al.  Tonight’s theme in particular is “Imagining God.”  It asks a question that’s floating around the Millennial-minded Christian blogosphere these days: How big is your God?

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

Thousands of people flocked into Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis on Monday for the funeral of Michael Brown, which was also called his “homecoming” service.  Among the many images that struck me from that day of mourning was the picture of a sea of people clad in their traditional Sunday best holding their hands up in the air as they poured into the sanctuary.  An eye witness to Brown’s murder reported that the unarmed 18-year-old ran from a police officer with his hands in the air yelling, “Don’t shoot!” when he was gunned down.  Service attendees holding their hands up was a sign of more things than words can describe: solidarity, defiance, protest…hope.  Although it meant different things for many people, what that image looked like to me was a sign of promise.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

Last week I offered a devotional, “Breaking the Cycle of Violence,” where I shared thoughts on depression and how we as a society stand to be more educated about it.  The midweek message was dedicated to Robin Williams, but in hindsight it was dedicated to so many others who have taken their lives or attempted suicide under the ambiguous yoke of depression.  A dear friend of mine and seminary peer, Rev. Todd Simmons, read that devotional and offered some words of reflection for my further understanding.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

“Doesn’t it make you angry?” he asked.  A childhood friend of mine had recently died from an apparent suicide by drug overdose.  “It’s selfish, don’t you think—your friend killing himself?”

 

This sentiment resurfaces every time a celebrity takes their own life.  News of Robin Williams’ death by self-inflicted asphyxiation went public and social media exploded with judgments against the epic actor and comedian.  Scathing commentary on Twitter about Williams’ presumed selfishness was so toxic that Williams’ daughter deactivated her Twitter account for her own well being.  A radio personality and a cable news anchor decreed that Williams’ suicide was selfish.  Worse yet, we hear again the religious assertion that if someone takes their own life, they’re simply not leaning heavily enough on their faith.

 

This Week @ Friends - gCal

Sunday - Oct 26th

OCT
26

Sun. School
9:15 am - 10:15 am

OCT
26

Worship
10:30 am - 11:30 am

OCT
26

New Member Class
11:45 am - 2:30 pm

OCT
26

Living the Questions
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

OCT
26

Leadership Retreat
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

OCT
26

On Fall BREAK - Circle of Friends Book Study
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Tuesday - Oct 28th

OCT
28

Morning Meditation / Centering Prayer
7:30 am - 8:30 am

Featured Events

This Week @ Friends (DP)

Sunday - Oct 26th

Oct
26


9:15-am 10:15-am

Oct
26


10:30-am 11:30-am

Oct
26


5:00-pm 7:00-pm

Tuesday - Oct 28th

Oct
28


9:00-am 9:30-am

Wednesday - Oct 29th

Oct
29


6:00-pm 7:00-pm

Oct
29


7:30-pm 9:30-pm

Thursday - Oct 30th

Oct
30


7:00-pm 9:00-pm