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Thoughts from Pastor Dan

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

This week’s devotional is written by Linda Fitzwater. Linda is the Chair of the Spiritual Development Committee, sings in the Chancel Choir, and is a regular attendee of and occasional lay leader for the Midweek Faith Formation Service (6pm, Wednesday nights). She is also the proud Confirmation mentor for Juliana Avila, a 6th grader in the Friends Church youth group.

 

It has now been a few days since our church’s beautiful Easter celebrations and I have been wondering what does it mean when we say that we are an Easter or Resurrection People? I have been especially thinking about the idea of rising. Rising seems to be a popular word lately both in the pop/activist culture as well as in our religious/ spiritual lives.

 

As we celebrated Easter we read the Resurrection story that is found in all of the gospels. From the JB Phillips paraphrased New Testament it goes like this:

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

Today’s midweek message comes to you a day early to remind you of tonight’s “Theology Unplugged” gathering at C&J’s Barbecue, 6pm. Details below.

 

This week’s devotional, written by Pastor Dan, first appeared in the “Faith & Values” section of Saturday’s The Eagle: http://www.theeagle.com/news/faith_and_values/love-manifests-itself-in-apologies/article_95555138-c7a0-5a1a-a0f9-b78265d1a392.html.

 

An 11-year-old boy on his knees poured water over his mother’s feet. Drying them with a towel, he said to her, “As Christ served you, now go and serve others.” The woman then took the place of her son. Crouching down where he had been, she faced another boy, this one not her son. She took his feet in her hands, held them over the basin, washed them, dried them, and said to the child, “As Christ served you, now go and serve others.” That young man turned around and washed his father’s feet. I asked him later, “Have you ever washed your dad’s feet?” “Um, no,” he said with a sheepish grin.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

This week’s devotional is offered by Rev. Trent Williams, Associate Pastor of Friends Church.

 

"While Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, 'Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.' And they scolded her. But Jesus said, 'Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.'" -Mark 14:3-9

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

But Jesus said to him, “I assure you that on this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”

But Peter insisted, “If I must die alongside you, I won’t deny you.” And they all said the same thing.Mark 14:30-31, Common English Bible

 

We were enjoying some rare fellowship together over lunch when he asked me, “What is the greatest thing you’re doing right now?” I chewed on the fried pickle in my mouth as slowly as I could, searching for an answer. Why couldn’t I readily find something to say? I do a lot. My friend sitting across from me at that table does a lot. We all do a lot. But what are we doing that’s great? I was troubled by my hesitancy.

 

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 Dear Friends Church Family,

This week’s devotional message is written by Oscar Guardiola. Oscar joined Friends Congregational Church in May and has been actively involved in the 20s & 30s Group and the Faith Inclusion and Disabilities Awareness Team.

During this time in our lives and in the world, we constantly find people that have different beliefs and views than we do. How do we respond when talking with someone with opposing views? Lately, I've seen a lot of people attacking each other and calling each other horrible things from both sides of the aisle just because they think differently. I don't think that's how it should be done when encountering a different point of view. Attacking and name-calling only leads to more division and we don't need any more of that.

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

This week’s devotional originally appeared in the “Faith and Values” section of  Saturday’s Eagle. Today’s Midweek Message comes to you a day early  as a reminder of tonight’s Theology Unplugged fellowship (details below).

 

“See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God.” Earlier this week I discovered a new appreciation of this verse from Revelation, the last book in the Bible.

 

We were on a camping trip at Huntsville State Park. You couldn’t ask for more beautiful days, but the nights might’ve been a bit less cold. Still, when you emerge from your tent to see an expansive mist hovering over the lake with a majestic heron flying over it all, your obsession with temporary comforts fades back into the pointlessness from whence it came.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

In the 2016 movie Dough, an old Jewish baker is struggling to keep his business afloat when a young Muslim boy becomes his unlikely apprentice.  The teenage boy lives with his mother, who works a menial job to make ends meet for them.  With good but desperate intentions, the boy reluctantly agrees to sell cannabis for a drug dealer, doing so by dropping subtle doses of it into the dough at his Jewish mentor’s bakery.  It sends sales sky high, appears to save the bakery, and places the boy’s mother and him on safer financial ground.

 

The old baker, set in his ways of keeping to his own culture and religion, finds himself letting his ideological guard down as the apprentice and he share the suddenly profitable labor of his resurrected bakery.  But when the man finds out that the reason for his bakery’s success is that the boy has been pharmaceutically enhancing the challah, he lashes out at the boy, saying that he should’ve known better than to trust a Muslim.  The boy cries devastated tears as he runs out of the bakery, his relationship with the old man deeply severed.  The old man demolishes his own bakery and stumbles to the ground under his own agony, ripping his shirt open in lament over what he feels as a betrayal.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 
 

Today’s devotional is written by Friends Church member Pam Engler. Pam is a retired Christian educator who co-chairs the Fellowship Committee and the Faith Inclusion and Disability Awareness Team. She enjoys volunteering for Meals on Wheels, the Brazos Church Pantry and helping some second grade students at Crockett Elementary School improve their reading skills. Pam and her husband Cady have two grown children and two grandchildren.

 

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear.  Be still, and know that I am God!” –Psalm 46: 1-2a, 10a (NRSV)

 

I recently attended a conference for volunteers and professionals in educational ministry in the church.  The theme of the conference was God with Us in the Chaos.  When this theme was chosen two years ago the planning team had no idea how much chaos we would be experiencing in the early months of 2017.  It seems like every time you turn on TV or radio news, check out internet updates or read a newspaper the word chaos is found.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

The devotional for this week originally appeared in the “Faith & Values” section of The Eagle on Saturday, 2/18/17: http://www.theeagle.com/news/faith_and_values/strive-for-the-will-of-god/article_f97d0bd3-6a1f-58f9-a1bc-2f2ff260f2b2.html.

 

Nearly 60 clergy from Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi gathered for a retreat in New Braunfels this week. Pastors, chaplains, and ministers from the South Central Conference of our denomination, the United Church of Christ, met for only 25 hours to talk about the present and future of the Church, to meditate on the stories of Jesus, and to worship the God of us all. Who said retreats were for rest? Especially these days, when the sacred paints of neighborliness and truth run in a messy blur down the canvas of our human condition, there is seldom rest for those who vow “to accept the joy and the cost of discipleship” (taken from the UCC’s Statement of Faith).

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

This week’s devotional is written by Associate Pastor Trent Williams.

 

"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." I John 4:7

 

This past weekend, my husband John arrived in town with our two dogs in tow after driving some 23 hours from Philadelphia. Ever since I arrived as your Associate Pastor in October of last year, I've been eagerly anticipating when they would be able to join me, and now that they are here life feels more complete. It certainly makes this a special Valentine's Day, although we usually focus more on February 16th each year, which is the anniversary of when we began dating. Still, this is a special week, and thoughts of love are all around us. Whether you have a special someone to call your Valentine or not, we as human beings are made for love, and we all need to be told on a regular basis that we are loved.

 

Love is a word that we use a lot in church and in our culture, and it's an important word. But I sometimes wonder whether we really know its meaning when we use it. Do we mean the first flush of romantic feelings that come with a new relationship, do we mean the deep and intimate knowledge of one another shared by a couple that's been together for a lifetime? Do we mean the self-giving love of a parent for a child, or perhaps that mysterious power lying at the heart of all things that we call God?